Calif. marijuana initiative irks Washington

California voters will have the chance November 2nd to decide whether to legalize the use of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older.  The measure, known as “Proposition 19,” will not even be voted on for another six weeks; but already there are those urging the federal government to take action against it. 

 If voters in the Golden State decide to thus liberalize their state’s laws, the United States Supreme Court will almost certainly be called upon to decide whether the so-called “commerce clause” in the Constitution has any limits at all to reach even purely personal behavior that has no effect whatsoever outside the boundaries of a single state.  Ironically, this would be the second time since 2005 the Court has used a liberalized California marijuana law to extend federal power to criminalize personal behavior. 

Five years ago, in a 6-3 opinion, in which only Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, William Rehnquist and Clarence Thomas dissented, the Court struck down California’s medical marijuana law that similarly had been passed by voter referendum.  Of those three, only Justice Thomas remains on the Supreme Court bench now.  As the only sitting Justice who votes consistently to limit federal power regulating personal behavior (especially measures enacted under the guise of the commerce clause), he can be counted on to support the rights of adult Californians to smoke a joint in the privacy of their own home.  Beyond Thomas, however, finding Justices willing to limit the reach of the commerce clause will be a difficult task.

Since the late 1930s, the Congress repeatedly has passed legislation using the commerce clause as the “hook” with which to justify all manner of mandates on state governments and limits on personal behavior.  Republican and Democratic presidents alike have shown virtually no hesitancy in signing such legislation into law.  And, with precious few exceptions, the federal courts have upheld such measures.  In this manner have all three branches of our government conspired to twist a single phrase in the Constitution — designed originally to guard against any one state from impeding commerce with or into any other state – beyond all logic.

In a clear illustration of the disdain which many in this country have for limited federal power, every one of the nine former administrators of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – the agency primarily responsible for enforcing federal drug laws – sent a letter last month to Attorney General Eric Holder, sounding the alarm bell over Proposition 19.  In their letter, the former DEA heads urged Mr. Holder to assert the commerce and “supremacy” clauses in the Constitution as grounds from which to actively oppose the pending California measure; and on which to base a lawsuit challenging it. 

In their letter also, the DEA bosses likened the brewing California marijuana crisis to the situation in Arizona, where the Attorney General currently is prosecuting a lawsuit against that state to enjoin its enforcement of an immigration law empowering state officers to stop, question, detain, and arrest individuals if they think they are here illegally. 

In fact, these two cases have nothing in common.

Unlike immigration laws — an area in which the federal government enjoys explicit and plenary constitutional power — the feds’ power to jail individuals for using controlled substances is at best a power shared with state authorities.  It is a power based not on any express or implied authority in the Constitution, but only tenuously on the power to tax and – you guessed it – to regulate interstate commerce.

What is at stake here is not protecting an exclusive federal power against usurpation by a state. What is involved here is nothing loftier than preserving the raw power of Washington to enforce personal behavior norms by the citizens in California or any other stat

87 comments Add your comment


September 20th, 2010
6:58 am

Fine article! Thanks for revealing yet another perspective on “Big Brother.” I appreciate all they do for us (not).

Karl Marx

September 20th, 2010
6:58 am

The real issue is prohibition. In the 1930’s prohibition was tried and the result was ramped organized crime and corruption resulting in it’s repeal. The Feds are using a different method for outlawing drugs but the result is the same. Organized crime and corruption.

One Man's Myth

September 20th, 2010
7:39 am

“If voters in the Golden State decide to thus liberalize their state’s laws, the United States Supreme Court will almost certainly be called upon to decide whether the so-called “commerce clause” in the Constitution has any limits at all to reach even purely personal behavior that has no effect whatsoever outside the boundaries of a single state. Ironically, this would be the second time since 2005 the Court has used a liberalized California marijuana law to extend federal power to criminalize personal behavior. ”

Sure, we followed THAT along.

What is Barr smoking? Or did he dabble in witchcraft? Satanic reasoning uses the logic of the worst case scenario to weaken the legal justification of any law. “We want small government because look how they trample upon our liberties when they regulate poisons.” or “Abe Lincoln was unamerican when he suspended the writ during the civil war, the dirty rat.”

Syntactically challenged, and stoned is no way to go through life, Barr.

Better: “If California legalizes marijuana, the inevitable crazy-con appeals to our Supreme Court will rely on the precedence set by the Interstate Commerce Clause in our constitution, through which Chicken Little was successfully prosecuted for tranporting McNuggets across state lines for immoral purposes.”

There. Your entire argument, and the rebuttal, in a tweet. You would have had room to report how scientists are using DNA forensics to zero-in on exactly what part of a chicken the McNugget comes from, and how a break-through is imminent, after Mankind has waited for so many generations to learn the origin. Personally, I think it’s the same place they get the chicken tenders from. But that’s just me.

We best wait for the science.


September 20th, 2010
8:05 am

Unlike most of your fellow conservatives, you actually have principles that don’t flex whichever way the wind blows when it’s conveniant. Kudos to you Bob!


September 20th, 2010
8:12 am

One Man’s Myth: Bob’s argument is pretty easy to understand. The government should stay out of our homes and let us smoke pot if we want. I get the point of yours. Seems to be “I’m a jerk” but not much else. You might want to work on your own syntax. Those who live in glass houses and all….

The Interstate Commerce Clause is frequently abused. If we followed it strictly, this country might be a very different place. For better or worse, I couldn’t say. But I would like to smoke weed rather than drink when I go out. It’s safer.

Conservative Christian

September 20th, 2010
8:21 am

Register. Vote. Share the links. Change the world.
As a Christian who takes seriously Jesus command to do unto others what I would have them do unto me, I know that if my child were using marijuana, I would want to work with him or her as a parent rather than seeing him or her with a criminal record, in jail with the sexual predators, lose their college financial aid, and all of the very real harm that would be caused, not by marijuana, but by the law. I would hate for that to happen to any kid, but it does, every day.
Likewise, if my aging parents were to try a little marijuana to ease the aches and pains of growing older, I would not want to see the police confiscate their home and sell it under the property forfeiture laws. I would hate for that to happen to any aging parent, but it does. Register to vote. Just google your state name and the phrase “voter registration”. You have to register well in advance of election day; All of these links use the usual h t t p : / / w w w prefix:
Others: Google your state name and “voter registration.”

College students: You can usually register as a citizen of either your hometown or your college residence town. Share the voter registration info through your student newspaper, twitter, etc.

5 minutes. Change the world. Share the links.

George Carlin

September 20th, 2010
9:02 am

If the State can sell a little weed, the Feds will see all the tax revenue California will be generating from selling grass and will want a toke off of that pipe. The State will also spend less money enforcing and prosecuting people for an arcane law. Wouldn’t it be groovy if AAhhhnuld could bail out the State’s budget woes just from selling a little weed? And tonight’s forecast still calls for widely scattered dark.

The Pilgrim

September 20th, 2010
9:18 am

I think pot was legalized in DC too, because they are smokin lots o dope in the Oval office.

Bonnie Norwood

September 20th, 2010
9:48 am

The United States’ drug policies are a farce. They spend so much money to keep marijuana illegal while selling drugs themselves that is a lot worse. This drug is methadone. There are methadone clinics all over the United States that were started to get heroin users off the streets and from using dirty needles. However, they now prescribe it to people who are addicted to just about anything including prescription drugs. If you are pregnant, they give you a larger dose for the baby. This program is supposed to cure addictions by substituting their minor drugs with a drug (synthetic heroin) that is more powerful and more addicting than most of the things it is prescribed for. Methadone is prescribed by a regular doctor and patient have to see the doctor and a counselor regularly. This is supposed to help them beat their addictions and finally weaned off the methadone. I know of many methadone addicts, including my 30-year-old daughter, who are never encouraged to come off the methadone and use someone else’s urine to pass drug tests designed to make sure they are not taking other drugs. It is like the United States is saying, “don’t buy drugs unless you buy them from us.


September 20th, 2010
9:53 am

A Libertarian is just a Republican who smokes pot and has gay friends.

Prohibition Does Not Work.

September 20th, 2010
10:00 am

It is simply time we stopped turning casual hemp users into criminals. It is time that we stopped footing the bill to arrest, convict and pay for incarceration of hemp users and dealers. It is time we taxed pre-packaged hemp like alcohol and cigarettes. It is time we cut the backbone of hemp funding from drug cartels.

At least THIS part of “the War on Drugs” is a costly boondoggle that we can no longer afford. Politicians used hemp as a way to boost their image as being “tough on crime”. Government lied, over and over again, about the affects of hemp. Ever see “reefer madness”? It was so blatantly false that it left my high school class of 1979 wondering what ELSE the government was lying about.

When you turn common folk into criminals for no real reason (hemp laws, the 55mph highway speed limit, etc), you breed widespread contempt for law enforcement. Enforcement of sensible, LEGITIMATE laws brings respect for law enforcement.

For the purposes of : respect for law enforcement, reduction in the cost of government, increase in sales tax revenue, reduction of crime and reduction of funding crime syndicates, increase in personal liberty, marijuana should be legalized immediately nationwide.

Bryan G.

September 20th, 2010
10:18 am

In light of the suit against the Arizona law, you would think that the DOJ would have to sue California just to stay “logically consistent”, right?


September 20th, 2010
10:23 am

The amazing thing is: They are putting up SO much more of a fuss about Cannabis than they did about ALCOHOL, which can’t be defended under any circumstances. It is SHEER INSANITY!

The difference is, in some cases, Cannabis can actually be good for you and is proven to be so by scientific studies – all ignored! Alcohol is good for disinfecting things – that’s it.

I have an alcoholic brother that gets on the telephone and causes untold grief to my family, week after week, without end. I would GIVE ANYTHING if he would use Cannabis instead! Alcohol is the single most destructive drug in America, but it’s given the nod of approval. Talk about sending messages!!!

As Charleton Heston said in Planet of the Apes – IT’S A MADHOUSE!!! A MADHOUSE!!!!


September 20th, 2010
10:25 am

The worst thing about marijuana is the drug war laws. . If don’t like pot then don’t smoke it, but get your nose out of other peoples’ lives and go drink your alcohol.


September 20th, 2010
10:32 am

The government has no say in any transaction between me and a plant.


September 20th, 2010
10:37 am

Any argument for tax revenue is bogus. If legalized growing for personal consumption were to happen, there would cease being any money in it.
Pot truly grows like a weed. Even the most unforgiving of gardeners will be able to easily grow some good stuff…on a small piece of land. If you can grow tomatoes, you can grow pot. If most everybody is growing for personal use, there will be no commercial market, only a barter type market.
Where is the tax revenue for that?


September 20th, 2010
10:39 am

Register. Vote. Change the world.

California citizens can register at:
Just print the form and mail it in.

Others: Google your state name and “voter registration.”

College students: You can usually register as a citizen of either your hometown or your college residence town. Share the voter registration info through your student newspaper, twitter, etc.

5 minutes. Change the world. Share the links.


September 20th, 2010
10:46 am

“If you can grow tomatoes, you can grow pot. If most everybody is growing for personal use, there will be no commercial market, only a barter type market.
Where is the tax revenue for that?”

A lot of people grow their own tomatos, but there is still a market.


September 20th, 2010
10:49 am

As long as private prisons employ lobbyists, we will never legalize pot and disrupt that revenue stream for both politicians and private prisons.


September 20th, 2010
10:55 am


The tomato analogue is just to illustrate how easy pot can be grown. Also, pot stores with a lot less effort than tomatoes.
I stand by my point. The price would plummet until the gubment weed was the fringe, and the vast majority would simply grow and trade with friends.
Pot would already be legal, except for the gubment’s inability to tax and control.


September 20th, 2010
11:06 am

You’re really mischaracterizing Gonzales v. Raich in paragraph 3. They didn’t strike Proposition 215 down – it’s still alive and well and being enforced and built on in California. All they did is confirm the right of Congress to continue to ban marijuana for purely personal use under the Commerce Clause.

Prohibition Does Not Work.

September 20th, 2010
11:14 am

While a LOT of people would grow their own, many more simply would buy. It is what it is. Why does anyone buy tomatoes , apples, peppers, cucumbers, etc, etc. These are things that are EASY to grow, fruit profusely, and can supply a family for half a year on just a few plants. Yet, people still spend $5-$10 every week during the summer months for these vegetables and fruits. Further, just about 50% of people live in urban/metro areas. They don’t have the room. Why do people spend $30 a week for lawn care when they could do it themselves? Or spend $20 on an oil change when they could do it for $10?

Your argument falls short, shaggy. A hundred million people purchase things at retail every day that they could grow, cook, build,maintain themselves.


September 20th, 2010
11:14 am

So as long as the Feds say “No” about any issue that they have interstate commerce authority over (which is everything) then its end of discussion as decided by the Feds and not the voters…music please: “and I am proud to be an American where at least I know I am free of voting.”


September 20th, 2010
11:17 am

Life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness.

Make it all Legal

September 20th, 2010
11:30 am

I think CALIFORNIA should vote and legalize SLAVERY of anybody if they are able to pass anything that is FEDERALLY ILLEGAL.

CALIFORNIA should also vote and legalize CHILD LABOR while they are at it.

They are in this for the MONEY, right?

With slavery and child labor, those can BRING in LOTS of money for the state for CHEAP LABOR.

Imagine having a lot of things assembled and manufactured in CALIFORNIA because slavery and child labor is BACK.

That is the will of the people if they legalize it. FREEDOM! Liberalized Laws! THE FEDERAL people cannot stop this.

While CALIFORNIA is at it, they should legalize PROSTITUTION.

PROSTITUTION will give a LOT of revenue to the state. People from other states will go to CA to get their prostitutes and they will pay state taxes. THAT IS SO Good for the economny of CA. All the women and girls will have guaranteed jobs. All the children and slaves will have guaranteed jobs. No one will force anybody to work as a slave, prostitute or in child labor. They can all apply for the jobs because they will be available. It is good for CALIFORNIA.

CA might as well legalize all UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS to have a pool for SLAVES.

Really, this is the beginning of PROSPERITY in CALIFORNIA if CA puts slavery, child labor, prostitution, legalization of undocumented immigrants in the BALLOT.

Let’s do it. I think the CA people are STUPID enough to pass them.

Dan R.

September 20th, 2010
11:31 am

Also, the CSA explicitly says that it doesn’t “occupy the field,” so you’d have to find positive conflict for a preemption problem. Does Prop 19 “require” (not just allow) something that federal law forbids, or forbid something that federal law requires? No.

Despite the Court’s crappy position on commerce clause authority, even granting the feds the right to regulate here, you’re still not going to find any constitutionality problems.

Section 903;
“No provision of this subchapter shall be construed as indicating
an intent on the part of the Congress to occupy the field in which
that provision operates, including criminal penalties, to the
exclusion of any State law on the same subject matter which would
otherwise be within the authority of the State, unless there is a
positive conflict between that provision of this subchapter and
that State law so that the two cannot consistently stand together.”


September 20th, 2010
11:36 am

A Libertarian is a persom who believes in Liberty,a Republican is actually a Fascist pretending to stand for Liberty. I vote Libertarian!

Repeal Medical Marijuana

September 20th, 2010
11:37 am

Why does CALIFORNIA need to legalize marijuana when practically ANYBODY including 18 year olds can get medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is LEGALIZED marijuana. Anybody can get it. In fact, may people from out of state are driving to California, getting their post office boxes in CA to have a CA address so they can get their medical marijuana cards. So if you see a lot of OUT OF STATE license plates in CA, those are the SCUMBAGS who want their medical marijuana.

Really, if Prop 19 does not pass, just pretend that you have chronic pain and get your medical marijuana card. Medical marijuana is NOT regulated at all. Anyone can get a medical marijuana card and you can even get it refilled with pot from street dealers. The cops will not know where the pot came from as long as you have a prescription bottle. Those medical marijuana are not in protected shrinkwrap and don’t have tracking numbers..

So all is NOT lost if Prop 19. You have medical marijuana available to 18 and above as a fall-back.


Prohibition Does Not Work.

September 20th, 2010
11:39 am

So some idiot who goes by “Make it all Legal” equates legalization of Marijuana to child labor, slavery and prostitution? WTF?

Repeal Medical Marijuana

September 20th, 2010
11:40 am

Why does CALIFORNIA need to legalize marijuana when practically ANYBODY including 18 year olds can get medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is LEGALIZED marijuana. Anybody can get it. In fact, many people from out of state are driving to California, getting their post office boxes in CA to have a CA address so they can get their medical marijuana cards. So if you see a lot of OUT OF STATE license plates in CA, those are the SCUMBAGS from outside of CA who want their medical marijuana.

Really, if Prop 19 does not pass, just pretend that you have chronic pain and get your medical marijuana card. Medical marijuana is NOT regulated at all. Anyone can get a medical marijuana card and you can even get it refilled with pot from street dealers. The cops will not know where the pot came from as long as you have a prescription bottle. Those medical marijuana are not in protected shrinkwrap and don’t have tracking numbers..

So all is NOT lost if Prop 19 passes. You have medical marijuana available to 18 year olds and above as a fall-back.



September 20th, 2010
11:45 am

If Jesus’s blood turned into pot instead of wine, marijuana would already be legal.


September 20th, 2010
11:45 am

So Dan R– you’re comparing marijuana to slavery and child labor? Wow. Class act that is.

People who are against legalizing weed don’t want to “protect” anything. NO LAW would be safe enough. Those of us who smoke responsibly, we (in the eyes of small brained prohibitionists) simply must stop because it offends others… to the point where they think we are criminals.

The reality is that people who are trying to keep marijuana illegal are trying to hold on to the last socially accepted bigotry. Live and Let Live. And that means letting people smoke in their homes if they don’t want to.

And yes, using the “WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN” argument is about as fallacious as making comparisons to Hitler. Prohibitionists: the days when you can get away with this crap are coming to an end. Maybe not this year, but this decade prohibition will end.

Legalize all

September 20th, 2010
11:46 am

Why is it very wrong for Pro-Prop 19 to legalize child labor, slavery and prostitution? Really. Double-standards, here.

Open Market

September 20th, 2010
11:49 am

There will be a market for marijuana.

There will also be a market for all of the other uses of hemp. Paper, clothes, rope, etc….

This could even help put some American farmers to work.


September 20th, 2010
12:10 pm

If California legalizes pot, then the illegal immigrants wont be visiting the homeland as much. They wont see their children grow up…how inhumane.

Al Gore

September 20th, 2010
12:11 pm

What about the significant impact that more people smoking pot will have in contributing to global warming.


September 20th, 2010
12:13 pm

You can make your own alcohol! But almost everyone buys it at a store… You can grow your own tobacco but most buy it prerolled. Proof there will still be a market people are lazy you wana wait 4 months for your weed or buy it at a store? Enough said


September 20th, 2010
12:14 pm

Maybe if CA legalizes pot, all the potheads will move there.


September 20th, 2010
12:29 pm

Marcos the moron making sure everyone knows it. Best read up “friend” i.e. homo.

One Man’s Myth McGibberish. It adores tyrannical dictators. It loves warrentless imprisonment and needless death.

One Man’s Myth for President of everyone. Hooray for the jack azz tell-it-all.

The Taxman Cometh

September 20th, 2010
12:31 pm

Marcos@ 9:53 “A Libertarian is just a Republican who smokes pot and has gay friends”

AND doesn’t play GI Joe all over the world.

Aunt Bea

September 20th, 2010
12:36 pm

I make a pretty mean batch of brownies. Just ask Goober.


September 20th, 2010
12:38 pm

Shaggy…you just stick with growing your own hemp and tomatoes. The rest of us will figure out how to make a profit on it.

PS – It won’t grow like a weed…it has to be carefully cultivated in a hot climate. That is why there are so many “grow rooms”.

Jillian Galloway

September 20th, 2010
1:12 pm

We need to demand laws based on logic and reality rather than on irrational fears of what might theoretically happen!

850,000 people were arrested last year for marijuana offenses while at the same time marijuana use went **up** by 8%. We taxpayers get *nothing* back for the $40 billion a year we pay for the prohibition!

Keeping marijuana in Schedule I alongside heroin diverts $10 billion a year to the sadistic, murderous cartels and undermines all the hard work of parents to keep our kids away from dangerous drugs. We need to speak up and demand marijuana be controlled with the same laws as alcohol!


September 20th, 2010
1:14 pm

OH WEED BROWNIES!!! Liberal laws. Liberal potlucks at SCHOOLS!!!!

In one high school, there was a potluck and these high school students brought WEED BROWNIES to the potluck for everyone to eat. No one knew that they were WEED BROWNIES.

Basically, everyone was wondering why many of the students and adults got high during that POTLUCK at the school.


September 20th, 2010
1:16 pm


You are a moron. I couldn’t care less about a profit. If you want profit, keep it illegal and prices stay high.

There are so meny grow rooms, because they make a BIG profit, you nitwit.


September 20th, 2010
1:20 pm

Mari-Cheesecakes laced with marijuana.

The school function decided to have a potluck and these high school students learned how to make cheesecake in their culinary class. So when there was a POTLUCK at the school, they served their mari-cheesecakes. No one could understand why everyone was uncontrollably laughing.


September 20th, 2010
1:45 pm

Shaggy you are just upset because you are too stoned to know that you are talking out of your pie hole. All the profit you now say exisits will be an excellent source of previously untapped tax revenue. Oh…I forgot…I’m a moron…you said everyone will start growing their own…just like home brew and tobacco…silly me. I may be a moron but you are still a dope. Go back to your tomatoes and your Playstation.


September 20th, 2010
2:03 pm

Scooby: You’re wrong, it will grow like a weed, because it is a weed. But the wild stuff won’t be as high quality or with as high of a yield as the cultivated stuff.


September 20th, 2010
2:25 pm

Ok…marijuana is a freakin weed that will be lining the medians of our highways. We will spend millions of dollars cutting this wild prolific shrub that will take over like Kudzu. Legalizing it will be a bad idea because it will overtake our lawns like crabgrass. Smoking it will be of no use because this wild shrub, unless carefull cultivated in pristine conditions, couldn’t get a nun high. Buy shares of Ortho…if pot is leaglized, Roundup is going to fly off the shelves to turn back this plauge that decriminalization will bring upon the lands.

malcolm kyle

September 20th, 2010
3:41 pm

Here are some facts concerning the situation in Holland:

”Cannabis coffee shops” are not only restricted to the Capital of Holland, Amsterdam. They can be found in more than 50 cities and towns across the country. At present, only the retail sale of five grams is tolerated, so production remains criminalized. The mayors of a majority of the cities with coffeeshops have long urged the national government to also decriminalize the supply side.

A poll taken earlier this year indicated that some 50% of the Dutch population thinks cannabis should be fully legalized while only 25% wanted a complete ban. Even though 62% of the voters said they had never taken cannabis. An earlier poll also indicated 80% opposing coffee shop closures.

It is true that the number of coffee shops has fallen from its peak of around 2,500 throughout the country to around 700 now. The problems, if any, concern mostly “drug tourists” and are largely confined to cities and small towns near the borders with Germany and Belgium. These problems, mostly involve traffic jams, and are the result of cannabis prohibition in neighboring countries. “Public nuisance problems” with the coffee shops are minimal when compared with bars, as is demonstrated by the rarity of calls for the police for problems at coffee shops.

While it is true that lifetime and “past-month” use rates did increase back in the seventies and eighties, the critics shamefully fail to report that there were comparable and larger increases in cannabis use in most, if not all, neighboring countries which continued complete prohibition.

According to the World Health Organization only 19.8 percent of the Dutch have used marijuana, less than half the U.S. figure.
In Holland 9.7% of young adults (aged 15–24) consume soft drugs once a month, comparable to the level in Italy (10.9%) and Germany (9.9%) and less than in the UK (15.8%) and Spain (16.4%). Few transcend to becoming problem drug users (0.44%), well below the average (0.52%) of the compared countries.

The WHO survey of 17 countries finds that the United States has the highest usage rates for nearly all illegal substances.

In the U.S. 42.4 percent admitted having used marijuana. The only other nation that came close was New Zealand, another bastion of get-tough policies, at 41.9 percent. No one else was even close. The results for cocaine use were similar, with the U.S. again leading the world by a large margin.

Even more striking is what the researchers found when they asked young adults when they had started using marijuana. Again, the U.S. led the world, with 20.2 percent trying marijuana by age 15. No other country was even close, and in Holland, just 7 percent used marijuana by 15 — roughly one-third of the U.S. figure.

In 1998, the US Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey claimed that the U.S. had less than half the murder rate of the Netherlands. “That’s drugs,” he explained. The Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics immediately issued a special press release explaining that the actual Dutch murder rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people, or less than one-quarter the U.S. murder rate.

Here’s a very recent article by a psychiatrist from Amsterdam, exposing “Drug Czar misinformation”

Now let’s look at a comparative analysis of the levels of cannabis use in two cities: Amsterdam and San Francisco, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health May 2004,

The San Francisco prevalence survey showed that 39.2% of the population had used cannabis. This is 3 times the prevalence found in the Amsterdam sample

Source: Craig Reinarman, Peter D.A. Cohen and Hendrien L. Kaal, “The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy”

Moreover, 51% of people who had smoked cannabis in San Francisco reported that they were offered heroin, cocaine or amphetamine the last time they purchased cannabis. In contrast, only 15% of Amsterdam residents who had ingested marijuana reported the same conditions. Prohibition is the ‘Gateway Policy’ that forces cannabis seekers to buy from criminals who gladly expose them to harder drugs.

The indicators of death, disease and corruption are even much better in the Netherlands than in Sweden for instance, a country praised by UNODC for its “successful” drug policy.”

Here’s Antonio Maria Costa doing his level best to avoid discussing the success of Dutch drug policy:

The Netherlands also provides heroin on prescription under tight regulation to about 1500 long-term heroin addicts for whom methadone maintenance treatment has failed.

The Dutch justice ministry announced, last year, the closure of eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty. There’s simply not enough criminals


September 20th, 2010
3:57 pm

been tokin and recently vaping the blessed and righteous herb since ‘67.

looks like NOW is the time to end the vile drug war on people and bring some much needed healing to the nation.

this is all about our constitutional right to life liberty and the pursuit of hippieness.

I look forward to fussing over some beautiful backyard plants and sharing with friends.


September 20th, 2010
6:13 pm

reminds me of the abortion debate, if you don’t support abortion don’t have one, if you don’t support marijuana use then don’t use marijuana, don’t tread on me, leave me be to do as I please….it’s called freedom!

Brian Cuban

September 20th, 2010
9:16 pm

This is a terribly researched and written article. Lets take the most glaring misstatement. The Supreme Court has NEVER “struck down” California law on this issue. The Supreme Court Case you referred to ,Raich v. Gonzalez held that the federal government, under the Commerce Clause can reach into purely local state activities as to the enforcement of FEDERAL LAW. It had no effect on the viability of Proposition 215. What’s more, this will likely NOT be a commerce clause issue if the federal govt sues. The Commerce Clause has nothing to do with validly enacted state statutes. It has to do with the ability of the federal govt to use Federal law to reach local state activities. This will be a supremacy clause and preemption issue. The issue will be whether the Federal Govt intended to completely occupy the Drug Enforcement field as they intended in for example, Immigration.


Brian Cuban

Jimmy James

September 20th, 2010
9:30 pm

Basically marijuana should be legal and regulated for adult use because it is not harmful and is in fact useful for a number of medical problems. Then the question becomes why won’t the government reschedule cannabis and allow its sale?

We know the federal government has been wiping its feet on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights since at least WWII, and especially the cold wars for the last 60 years. Either the government is corrupt or the Constitution is meaningless and void.

What actions does each result demand? Shall we be governed by an illegal government or shall we write a new Constitution?

Kerry Wolf

September 20th, 2010
10:50 pm

In response to Binnie Norwood’s comments regarding methadone clinics–you are completely wrong in your assumptions. Methadone is not intended as a quick detox aid, to be taken for a few days or weeks and quickly tapered off to achieve a “drug free” state. That is not and never was the purpose of the treatment. Patients in methadone clinics have usually already been through countless abstinence based rehabs without lasting success–that is why they are there. The problem is not getting through the withdrawals–if it were we could throw them all in a holding cell for 3 to 5 days (the time it takes the body to rid itself of heroin) and they would emerge cured, never to use again.

But as we all know, that does not happen. This is largely due to permanent changes that often occur in the brain chemistry of long term opioid addicts–changes in the brain’s ability to produce endorphins, our NATURAL opiates. Without this chemical, patients who are abstinent experience severe depression, anhedonia, anxiety, physical exhaustion and extreme irritability. This often drives them to relapse as it is an extremely miserable way to go through life.

Methadone corrects this imbalance in the brain chemistry without causing any euphoria or high in stable patients. It enables them to feel normal, to function normally, and to go about their work and activities normally. However, it is not a cure for endorphin deficiency–there is no cure. It only works for as long as it is taken, just like with any other medication for a chronic brain chemistry imbalance. Many if not most require long term–even life long–treatment to maintain their recovery.

As for it being too strong–that is also untrue. Methadone is appropriate for both heroin addicts and those heavily addicted to Rx opiates.


September 20th, 2010
11:04 pm

unbelievable. legalization is obviously the only that this whole charade will ever be set free. condemnation does not liberate…it oppresses. legalization is the only way people will be set free.

Eric Glasgow

September 21st, 2010
12:44 am

Dear Mr. Barr: The Constitution does not mention immigration. You may be thinking of naturalization, which is something entirely different.


September 21st, 2010
6:36 am


At least you know that you are a moron.

Jimmy 62,

Yes, the fabled “ditch weed”, left over from WWII Hemp production. However, I am not commenting on just letting it grow “wild”. That strain was originally grown for rope, with long fibers, and no attention to flowering. It is still grown today for the same reason.

It’s cousin Maryjane, will grow just a hardy as a weed, except the characteristics are reversed. Lower growing plants that are less useful for fiber and posessing more, resinous flowering parts. Then, the males are removed from the patch, and the remaining females put even more energy into the flowering parts. The fabled sinsemillia.


September 21st, 2010
8:54 am

Shaggy: I bow to your superior knowledge. But I’ll put my hand rolled joints up against yours any day!


September 21st, 2010
9:02 am

The commerce clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, the states and with Indian tribes. Now, let us say that Indian tribes were growing marijuana, Congress can regulate that. Now, let us say that a foreign nation like Mexico was bringging in Marijuana to the U.S., Congress could regulate that. However, what about home grown marijuana, it is not being transported any place except from the marijuana patch to the consumers lungs,that is not interstate commerce, or import commerce. Congress is overstepping their authority in my humble opinion. Now don’t quote me, big brother is aaaaaalllllllll oooooover.


September 21st, 2010
9:19 am

Shaggy…you reveal yourself as a typical neophyte that when you don’t have the brains to be able to support your position, the fall back response is to call the other party names. Put down your Game Boy and go have some cereal toddler.


September 21st, 2010
10:37 am


No, the difference is, I made my point…then named you for the nitwit that you are. You then were reduced to babbling, because you really couldn’t form a cohesive argument. I am done with you. Go make some profit or something.


September 21st, 2010
11:23 am

Will do…don’t get any cereal on your bib or drop your sippy cup.


September 21st, 2010
11:47 am

Let God will be done thru this blog


September 21st, 2010
11:55 am

Was this column published in the print edition?

I hope so. The AJC acts as if marjuana legalization isn’t a hot topic across the nation.

Cheech Philosophy

September 21st, 2010
12:06 pm

Does anyone know how to spell the onomatopoeia that describes the “Swish” sound of somebody toking on a joint, man?


September 21st, 2010
1:51 pm


kaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh …….

Sharon Ravert

September 21st, 2010
1:52 pm

Is this article in the print version? There are many good points here. I am a Christian republican/independent mother of two very successful and intelligent independent thinking daughters that I could not be more proud of. I am a small business owner and I am a proud member of Georgia NORML. Mothers need to learn about this subject. Although Cannabis is not addicting, learning about it quickly becomes addicting. We must protect our children and grandchildren from these insane drug laws. I was born in Atlanta and grew up here so I feel I have a good perspective about the changes that have happened in my 45 year life span. In the 60’s 70’s and 80’s we had lots of drug rehab centers and almost all of the churches helped tremendously with addicts. Now we have changed our ways and closed down most of these places and replaced them with prison cells, (for profit prison cells) and large courthouse. People that are for less government and people who have an opinion in favor of abortion- should both take a hard look at their core principles. How can someone who is okay with abortion tell me I can’t not put what I choose into my own body as long as I do not cause anyone else harm or commit a crime while under its influence? How can someone who is for less government be for military-like police squads busting down your door because someone your kids brought home from school got busted after leaving your house? Do we not own our home and our own bodies in this country anymore? Why is it that nobody uses their real names or emails on here when discussing this issue? I liken this movement to the Gay rights movement somewhat. Everyone is scared to come out of the closet. I guess I should be afraid of retaliation, but I am so sick of this war on our young people, I just don’t care anymore some ones got to say it. We are losing an entire generation of our young people to this war. Please join me in the spreading of knowledge and please continue looking for the person that does not agree and change their minds. The internet has too much information on this subject to stay ignorant. The prohibitionists are saying the same thing they have been saying for 70+ years. It is getting old. I sometimes wonder if President Obama knew what he was doing when he laughed at the most asked question in his first “Town Hall meeting” concerning legalizing taxing and regulating marijuana. I would like to think he is smart enough to know that by laughing it would awaken the “sleeping giant” and the “mothers”. Women played an integral part in the repeal of prohibition of alcohol. I hope our President wanted this to happen. I hope he wanted to have this discussion as he did before he became President when he said the drug war was an utter failure. It is a sad day in my town when another child is kicked out of college because he or she chose to smoke a joint instead of taking an adderall, a xanax or chugging a beer or doing a shot of liquor. How can it be okay if you rape and kill someone and do your time and can apply for Federal Financial aid to go to college as long as you didn’t smoke a joint after you are done killing them? It is a sad day when another neighbor loses their kids to the foster care system or gets shot over this weed. We in Georgia can play a critical part in this change. People in the country joke about Georgia and say that we are so backwards and we will be the last state to do anything. Let’s be the next one. Consider this– If you have a child in college, every President of this great country of ours has admitted to smoking pot, since our children have been alive. The only difference in becoming President and being a non-productive member of society that cannot get financial aid to better themselves and cannot get a job because they have a marijuana conviction, is the difference in getting caught and not getting caught. Please explain that to your children. You can overcome an addiction, but not a conviction. I have raised my children by always speaking the truth and being as non-judgmental as humanly possible and I plead with you parents, do not lie to your children. They will more than likely try cannabis one day and know that you lied to them and don’t forget they have access to the internet. They are not stupid. If you lie to your child about marijuana, they may think you are lying about meth, adderall, alcohol… etc… all of the things they can overdose on in less than 24 hours and die. There has never been a single death of overdose of marijuana. The LD 50 is astronomical. Educated yourself Georgia and then educate everyone you know. Don’t be afraid. I have been talking about this for years and have found only one person that didn’t agree. She is 70 years old and will be coming with me to the next meeting. You will be surprised who agrees. Talk in your church, talk to your local judges. Get the conversation going and keep it going. On the economic side we have spent 70 years and billions on this “War on Drugs” and they can’t seem to keep it out of our kid’s schools. They can’t keep it out of the prisons. How will they ever keep it out of every house in America? This war is very expensive and has no end. They will just keep asking for more money from the tax payers. Drug dealers do not pay taxes and they don’t care about or card our children….Let’s have a common sense rational discussion on this. For me this is not about getting high. This is more about protecting my future grandchildren at this point. If I find a joint in my child or grand-child’s bedroom, I want to handle it with my family, friends and church and professional doctors. I don’t want them to be put into a system and called a criminal for the remainder of their lives by someone who has to uphold the laws in order to keep their job even if they don’t personally agree with them. The most recent polls show that 78% of Americans think that medical marijuana should be legal federally and depending on the polls you look at 48%-51% of Americans think is should be legalized for recreational use for those over 21, like alcohol, the much more dangerous, yet socially acceptable drug. So why is it that 100% of our congress and our President will not even consider it? Join the discussion. Get active..

Brian Cuban

September 21st, 2010
2:39 pm

Eric-True the Constitution does not mention immigration BUT the Supreme Court has ruled that the Congressional power to regulate naturalization, in Article 1, Section 8, also includes the power to regulate immigration

Harm Reduction

September 21st, 2010
3:05 pm

Marijuana and anabolic steroids should be legalized. Neither have been PROVEN to be more deadly than alcohol or tobacco.


September 21st, 2010
3:27 pm


Great post.

I just have one bone to pick……..

Could you divide it up into paragraphs next time? It just makes it easier on the eyes when reading long articles.


I’m just wondering, because it seems like every AJC article about marijuana is INTERNET-ONLY.

Sharon Ravert

September 21st, 2010
5:21 pm

Sorry Tim. I agree. After seeing it. I thought the same thing. Next time my friend.


September 21st, 2010
6:57 pm

Here are 2 excerpts from ‘Why We Must Fix Our Prisons’
PARADE – March 29, 2009
(For the full story, search Google for the title above.)

“Justice statistics also show that 47.5% of all the drug arrests in our country in 2007 were for marijuana offenses. Additionally, nearly 60% of the people in state prisons serving time for a drug offense had no history of violence or of any significant selling activity. Indeed, four out of five drug arrests were for possession of illegal substances, while only one out of five was for sales. Three-quarters of the drug offenders in our state prisons were there for nonviolent or purely drug offenses. And although experts have found little statistical difference among racial groups regarding actual drug use, African-Americans–who make up about 12% of the total U.S. population–accounted for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison.”

“In 1984, Japan had a population half the size of ours and was incarcerating 40,000 sentenced offenders, compared with 580,000 in the United States. As shocking as that disparity was, the difference between the countries now is even more astounding–and profoundly disturbing. Since then, Japan’s prison population has not quite doubled to 71,000, while ours has quadrupled to 2.3 million.”

* * *

And from CBS News:

Sarah Palin Calls Marijuana “Minimal Problem”
June 17, 2010
(For the full story, search Google for PALIN and MARIJUANA)

Former Alaska GOP Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday night that law enforcement should not focus its energy on the “minimal problem” of marijuana.

Palin made the comment during an appearance on the Fox Business Network with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

The libertarian Paul said enforcing marijuana restrictions specifically and the war on drugs more generally is a “useless battle,” a point Palin somewhat agreed with, though she was clear that she does not support legalization.

“If we’re talking about pot, I’m not for the legalization of pot,” Palin said. “I think that would just encourage our young people to think that it was OK to go ahead and use it.”

“However, I think we need to prioritize our law enforcement efforts,” Palin added. “If somebody’s gonna smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody any harm, then perhaps there are other things our cops should be looking at to engage in and try to clean up some of the other problems we have in society.”

Palin then urged law enforcement to “not concentrate on such a, relatively speaking, minimal problem we have in the country.”

Barring Logic

September 21st, 2010
9:20 pm

Barr – Do your fellow conservative republicans agree with you? I am guessing that the Tea Party folks will agree, but the religous republicans are very against recreational drugs.

I think you lose a number of your ‘followers’ on this one.

So California legallizes pot. Let them. They can collect all kinds of tax money and maybe balance their budget!


September 22nd, 2010
3:21 am

Mexico should just legalize marijuana farming and export to the USA. They are missing out on the medical marijuana opportunity. They could be earning a lot of money right now. Mexico does not need to legalize pot use. But at least legalize pot export to the USA because many Americans are dependent on POT. This will create many jobs for the Mexicans. Mexico should do this NOW and take advantage of the legal export of pot to the USA. The USA would not have to stink up their lands and can get the pot for real CHEAP wholesale prices from Mexico.
Here is the deal:
1. Vote yes on Prop 19.
2. Mexico legalizes production of marijuana for export.
3. USA uses Mexico as wholesale supplier.
4. Repeal Medical Marijuana Program SHAM
5. FDA investigates use of marijuana for treatment and approves whatever can be approved.
6. Bug Congress to make marijuana legal.
7. Everyone’s happy – the entire USA is stoned. Perfect.

You really want to vote Yes on Prop 19?


September 22nd, 2010
6:19 am

Just why would we want to out source something that will be just as cheap if done right here in the US by US citizens?
How do you see pot farming as “stinking up their lands”? Cannabis is kind of like clover, in that it fixates nitrogen in the soil, making the soil more fertile and requiring much less fertilizer.

If the Mehicans would just stop bowing to the Catholic church and wear a condom, their people problems would be solved. They breed like violence loving flies, and the machismo illusion causes even more babies that need some place, plus resources, to live.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really have anything against Mehicans…as long as they stay there and fix their own country.


September 22nd, 2010
2:13 pm

Wow, for a lobbyist with the Marijuana Policy Project Mr. Barr is confused. Prop 215 was not struck down by Raich v. Gonzales. Also it didn’t particularly extend the scope of the commerce clause because the precedent in Raich came from a 1941 SCOTUS ruling in Wickard v. Filburn. In Wickard the farmer that was the principle in the case was arguing that the Feds had no jurisdiction over wheat that was grown for non-commercial purposes, and the SCOTUS found that it was using a mind bending set of logic to give the Feds power over just about anything they decide they want to

For a former lawmaker it is stunning that Mr. Barr believes that the Feds will take any action against Prop 19. The fact that Prop 215 remains the law of the land despite the SCOTUS having 3 opportunities to strike it down, which they most certainly did not do.

C’mon Mr. Barr, what in the world would be the grounds of such a suit by the Feds? Will they next sue all 50 states to make them pass a law punishing Federal income tax evasion?

The Arizona immigration law is stepping directly on a Constitutional power assigned to the Federal government.

Prop 8 is a violation of Constitutional mandate of equal protection of law in the 14th amendment.

Prop 19 is something the Feds don’t like. [game show buzzer] Sorry Bob, the Federal government disliking something isn’t grounds to strike down a lawfully passed ballot referendum. Perhaps the Feds can come up with some novel, twisted theory that ballot initiatives are unconstitutional and strike Prop 19 along with every other ballot initiative passed in California or the other states that have passed laws using the ballot initiative. That’s just not going to play in Peoria if they try such absurdity.

As with Prop 215 the Feds can’t be stopped from coming into California and enforcing their law using their (borrowed) resources. But there is absolutely no way that the Feds can get Prop 19 overturned after it passes. It is cut and dried black letter law and the precedent dates all the way back to the 1920s when the State of New York ‘opted out’ of the 18th amendment by repealing all its state laws against the manufacture and distribution of drinking alcohol.

Perhaps I’m missing something? Well ’splain it to me.
from a post above: “Pot would already be legal, except for the gubment’s inability to tax and control.”

The California Board of Equalization reported collecting between $50 million and $100 million in 2009 from sales tax imposed on medical cannabis. All patients under the protection of Prop 215/SB420 are legally entitled to grow their medicine. Now what was that flapdoodle that everyone would grow it so there would be no tax revenue? Aside from that you’ve most likely have never tried to grow top shelf cannabis. It is far from easy. Oh, it’s also absurd nonsense to claim that cannabis is a weed. The definition of a weed in simply ‘an unwanted plant’. The definition of a weed doesn’t require a plant to be large to be a weed. Algae is a weed and that plant is microscopic. Soleirolia soleirolii also called Mind Your Own Business is a weed and is extremely slow growing. Another thing to consider other thing to consider is how it came to be called a weed. This came about in the early part of the 20th century and was used as propaganda to promote the criminalization of cannabis.

David Staples

September 22nd, 2010
4:46 pm

Marcos – I’m a Libertarian, but I don’t smoke pot. I do support the legalization of it though. I especially support the legalization of industrial hemp. They grow it in Canada, make products out of it and then export them to the US. Why can’t we just grow the raw materials here?


September 22nd, 2010
5:55 pm


When someone makes an analogy, using “like a weed”, it does not equate describing something “as a weed” you long winded dope.
Weeds grow fast, with very little care. Some of them are better known as “wildflowers”, because they have pretty flowers.
Yes, cannabis grows LIKE a weed. It IS that easy to grow good stuff on marginal land.

Something that is SO EASY to grow, pray tell, where is the revenue coming from. The price will plummet to what it has always been worth, maybe the price of a few ears of corn. There will be no money in it, and all of the criminal element instantly dissolves or moves to meth, coke, politics, or anything else that has a hyper inflated price that makes it worth it to them.

That is how it should be. Now if stupid and lazy people want to pay for inferior government or commercial issue, by all means let them pay. The price of that will still be cheap. It’s called supply & demand. However, it does not change the characteristics of the plant.



September 23rd, 2010
12:55 am


I know what it takes to grow superior herb, which is the only kind worth tokin. It isn’t that easy to grow aaa herb unless you are dedicated.

oakland looks like they have a good working model. the bigger ops are unionizing and paying a living wage to their workers to grow top grade stuff.. these are necessary built in costs to prop the oz price but mj’s price should be at least half of current market value and win win win all around. most people will likely prefer to let the pros grow.

personally, i am looking forward to perfecting backyard strains and sharing.

just sayin


September 23rd, 2010
6:33 am


I think your “personally” statement will turn out to be the rule, which will induce free market, supply & demand prices. Cheap.

I stand by the plant characteristics that make weed, like a weed. I don’t doubt any dedicated gardener’s ability to amp up the plant, however I do know that good, better than commercial grade crops, can come from marginal land, with little effort.

Think digging a hole in the middle of a thicket, putting a few clones in some readily available potting soil, come back in late summer, early fall. If the spot is right and enough water is available, you will have done something very easy that far surpases anything coming via Mexican cartels. Now, if you are able to better care for a similar configuration, because it is legal (no thicket, just a 4′ X 8′ minimally amended plot), you will easily have enough superior backyard bud, for you and plenty to trade. That’s easy.

barking frog

September 23rd, 2010
7:11 am

Californians must comply with Federal Law. That’s
why we are the United States.


September 23rd, 2010
1:09 pm


you do know what you are talking about for sure. i continue to vape the best.

looks like cali is going to legalize, and we shall soon see about prices.



September 23rd, 2010
1:12 pm

barking frog

real life is much more complex than that.


September 24th, 2010
2:51 pm

@barking frog
According to the Tenth Amendment, the government of the United States has the power to regulate only matters delegated to it by the Constitution. Other powers are reserved to the states, or to the people (and even the states cannot alienate some of these).


September 25th, 2010
7:06 pm

I for one am completely against this terrible drug. I’ve seen the studies that I and other taxpayers funded that show unequivocally that this dangerous drug causes white women to seek sexual intercourse with negroes. I mean what kind of world would we live in if it were popularized for WHITE women to seek sexual intercourse with NEGROES????!!!!! The only thing worse than this awful drug is that awful, satanic JAZZ music!!! I mean there is no way in AMERICA there is anything more dangerous than WHITE women who listen to JAZZ and then smoke MARIHUANA with NEGROES!!!

Any other argument is just plain wrong, you see, because the above is the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD!!! They wouldn’t ever base a law on something flat-out false or disregard testimony from licensed medical doctors. I mean, they wouldn’t base a decision on testimony from someone like, say, Stephen Colbert!!!

If you live in California and you DON’T support this measure then you are flat-out an enemy of humanity. No ifs, ands, or buts. Come up with any argument that you like. ALL the real (i.e. peer-reviewed) science shows that this is perhaps the most innocuous substance people ingest on the entire planet.

The only reason that this and other substances remain illegal is it’s government’s way of showing you that even if they can’t possibly police something, that still doesn’t mean they won’t use every angle they can to ass rape their own population. Specifically ass raping the black population in the same manner that they’ve legally done since 1492. God bless America. That isn’t hyperbole, by the way. What do you think happens in prison? ASS RAPE.

gixxer guy

September 27th, 2010
7:59 am

Thinking. It’s always the same thing. To think is to go crazy.