Is Obama Secretly Awesome on the Drug War?

No. But his policies might have some awesome unintended consequences. You may be aware that the Department of Justice has recently invaded the state of California. The state’s well established medical marijuana community is being destroyed by the DOJ’s enforcement of Federal drug laws. The Obama administration’s choice to prosecute these “crimes”, that are not crimes in the state of California, is a betrayal of his campaign promises, and a reversal of two years of policy. As awful as this is it might have some salutary effects.
In November 2010, California voters rejected Proposition 19, which would have legalized Marijuana (ed- fully legalized and taxed like alcohol). This was a bit surprising. If any state would be pro-legalization, surely hippy-dippy California would be the one? Medical marijuana has been legal in California for years.
Surprisingly, this hurt the legalization vote. Medical marijuana users already had access to marijuana. They were leery of a change in the system that might endanger their supply, or put it in the hands of larger corporations. Many farmers and owners of medical marijuana dispensaries were also reluctant to wholeheartedly support legalization efforts. They did not want the competition. Much of legalization’s natural constituency, users and producers, was at best ambivalent about Proposition 19.
Eric Holder’s Department of Justice put the final nail in the coffin. The DOJ threatened to rigorously enforce the federal drug laws if Proposition 19 passed. This didn’t just mean legalization wouldn’t happen, it meant that California’s medical marijuana system would be crushed as well. Marijuana was already functionally legal in California, why risk what they had?
The DOJ’s invasion of California this past fall shows the folly of that approach. Holder got what he wanted, and then invaded anyway. Small businesses have been destroyed, people are being arrested for providing a service to their community, and patients can no longer access the medicines they need. This is all horrible, but there is a silver lining.
The pro-marijuana community in California will not be fooled again. The DOJ has already done its worst. The next time California decides a marijuana legalization proposition they will be much more likely to vote for it. Proposition 19 lost by a small margin, 46% to 54%. Obama’s heavy-handed approach is likely to have moved that 4% and more. Thanks to the DOJ, we may see individual states legalize marijuana as soon as this year.
Rob has put together a series of videos to advocate legalization that can be found here