Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Speech

Have you heard the speech?

"Politicians get reelected talking tough regarding the war on drugs," says Gray. "Do you want to hear the speech? Vote for Gray. I will put drug dealers in jail and save your children."
And who is this Gray guy anyway?
All right, tell me this doesn't sound a little strange:

I'm sitting in Costa Mesa with a silver-haired gent who once ran for Congress as a Republican and used to lock up drug dealers as a federal prosecutor, a man who served as an Orange County judge for 25 years. And what are we talking about? He's begging me to tell you we need to legalize drugs in America.

"Please quote me," says Jim Gray, insisting the war on drugs is hopeless. "What we are doing has failed."
Well, it is a good thing some one has finally noticed.
So here he is in coat and tie -- with a U.S. flag lapel pin -- eating his oatmeal and making perfect sense, even when talking about the way President Obama flippantly dismissed a question about legalizing marijuana last week during a White House news conference.
Here is about a minute of the news conference with Obama dismissing his online supporters who are asking too many marijuana questions.

And evidently there are a lot of folks on the net who don't like this guy's attitude. There is even a list of them.

Here is one I particularly liked:
[Comment From Karen] Not sure making fun of the "online audience" for asking is the best way to have handled that.

[Comment From Josh] Probably not, he turned the question into a joke [...]

Matthew Burton: Josh is right. There will be blowback from this.

[Comment From Karen] Now how many million people feel that they weren't taken seriously? Frustrating. [...]

Matthew Burton: He made it even more likely that the most popular questions in future town halls will be about marijuana

[Comment From Josh] The fact that he made light of one of the most popular questions being asked does not say a whole lot for mr. obama

Joan McCarter: It was a simplistic response on the pot question, particularly in light of the border violence that Napolitano talked about yesterday. There's a connection he could have drawn to give a serious answer.
For a serious answer on anything we are going to need a serious President. That may take a while. Three Years 9 months and 3 weeks more or less.

Despite Mr. Obama's snub of his supporters it looks like the intent of Congress is to get Drug Law Reform by disguising it as Prison Reform and appointing a commission and then getting a report after 18 months. Not exactly on the fast track.
Even as President Barack Obama slapped down the hopes of American marijuana consumers as to his position on legalization, Senator Jim Webb (D-Va) was quietly preparing to introduce major legislation which has the potential to dramatically alter US drug laws.

Calling the US criminal justice system "a national disgrace," two US senators called for a top-to-bottom review with an eye on reforms aimed at reducing America's vast prison population.

Senator Webb, backed by Republican Senator Arlen Specter, introduced legislation to create a blue-ribbon panel that would conduct an 18-month assessment and offer concrete recommendations for reform.

Sen. Webb's legislation enjoys not just bipartisan support, but "quiet encouragement from President Barack Obama," reported The Virginian-Pilot.

"America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace," Webb said, noting that the United States has five percent of the world's population but 25 percent of the world's prisoners.

According to a document released by Sen. Webb's office, "Its task will be to propose concrete, wide-ranging reforms to responsibly reduce the overall incarceration rate; improve federal and local responses to international and domestic gang violence; restructure our approach to drug policy; improve the treatment of mental illness; improve prison administration, and establish a system for reintegrating ex-offenders."
When you consider that self medication for mental illness has a lot to do with chronic drug use (you can find out more about that at Treatment vs Recreation), what he is basically planning (if he actually follows the science) is a gutting of the drug control regime as we know it.

And not a minute too soon. In fact when the report finally comes out (they are always late) the next Congress will be in session and that may be too late. Events in Afghanistan and/or Mexico may alter the timetable.

OTOH consider that Senator Webb has been working on this project since October of 2007. So maybe things are going as fast as they can. Sadly.

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