Gary Newsom, the Lieutenant Governor of California, came out with some fighting words against the war on drugs.
Gary Newsom quotes from a huffingtonpost article on March 11, 2013
“It’s disappointing,” the former San Francisco mayor said to host Josh Zepps of the Obama administration’s renewed crackdown on California’s medical cannabis operations. “The fact that we’re having raids, the likes of which wouldn’t have even happened in the Bush administration, has been frustrating.”
“I am sick and tired of politicians saying one thing in private and saying another in public. It’s time to tax and regulate [marijuana]. The consequences of this war on drugs is an abject failure; it has disproportionately hurt the African American and Latino communities. It’s time for politicians…to do the damn right thing on this.”
Here’s a clip of then Senator Obama admitting to smoking weed ‘frequently’ when he was younger.
Let’s look at this from two angles. First, opponents against marijuana use propaganda to scare people into thinking you can’t smoke pot and be successful. I would say President Obama has been successful, and I would say Michael Phelps, the greatest swimmer in Olympian history is successful, and we’re all aware of the notorious ‘fiasco’ of him getting caught taking a hit from the bong.
I’m certain there are people that chose, and choose today a life of smoking pot that prevents them from reaching their ‘potential’, insofar as society expects of people. That isn’t to say they won’t be successful, but perhaps they won’t reach the pinnacle of their field, or maybe they’ll wind up in a 9-5 job working middle management, when they could have become a CEO. That’s certainly possible, it’s almost inevitable such examples exist.
But you know what really hurts people’s potential? Being arrested and thrown in prison for marijuana offences.
The next angle is foreseeable. Blatant hypocrisy. The last three President’s of the United States have admitted to smoking pot. We know some of the founding fathers grew it in their backyards, be it for the purposes of using hemp, or simply to get high. But how can Obama, our hoped for progressive President, be fiercer on the war on drugs than the Bush administration?
What Political Sense Is to Made Of This Crackdown?
First, I don’t see how it makes any political sense. President Obama’s base that got him elected in 2007 campaign were predominantly progressive, and it was progressives who voted him back in – with some measure of disappointment and reluctance – in 2012. He’s not pleasing his base by going after medical marijuana, and leaving States that have chosen to legalize it for medicinal, and now recreational purposes, to wonder when the next raid will happen.
I understand he’s now working with the worst congress perhaps in US history, a congress that would see Roe vs Wade overturned, child labor laws abolished, and a host of other draconian policies reinstated if they could have their way. But the congress has not forced his hand when it comes to his executive decisions concerning how to exercise federal power throughout the states concerning the war on drugs.
I can only imagine it’s to appear more centrist so that conservatives will stop calling him a radical – one of many policies he’s perpetuated perhaps for this reason – but when will he learn, if indeed this is even the reason, that his haters will always hate him, no matter how much he bends to their will. Negotiation after negotiation has shown this. The more he gives, they more the republicans demand.
This Hypocrisy Ruins Lives
Freedom is a precious thing. In the words of the Queen from the movie 300, “Freedom isn’t free at all, that it comes with the highest of costs. The cost of blood.” Soldiers have died throughout American history – and the history of perhaps every country – to win and to maintain freedom. These same soldiers could return from war, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, and decide to smoke pot – perhaps they don’t live in a State where you can get it medicinally – and wind up in prison, their freedom lost from them.
A basic freedom of humans should be to alter their consciousness, be it through meditation, marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms or LSD, to name a handful of examples. These drugs in particular are not harmful to our bodies, but there is scientific evidence to the contrary, and their psychological benefits were studied rigorously – and still are to a lesser degree – prior to becoming restricted substances. MDMA was used for marriage counselling at one point, and there’s evidence now to show it may work remarkably in the treatment of soldiers suffering from PTSD.
These plants, fungi and certain psychedelic substances could lead us into discoveries in neuroscience, psychology, and any number of sciences. There is far more potential for these substances to be our allies than our enemies, but when we as a society demonize them, and those who choose to use them, we’re not committing a war against drugs, we’re committing a war against freedom, and against human beings.