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February 26, 2010 -- Huffington Post (US)

Obama Continues Bush-Era "Drug War" Hypocrisy

By Jesse Ventura

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive


In my new book, American Conspiracies, I included a chapter called "Your Government Dealing Drugs." It traces the history of how the CIA has funded a lot of its operations over the years with drug money, and still looks the other way in places like Afghanistan -- where President Hamid Karzai's own brother is getting regular CIA payments while being simultaneously involved in the heroin trade. Meantime, according to reports by Congress and the Treasury Department, American banks are "collectively the world's largest financial beneficiary of the drug trade" -- with an estimated inflow of about $250 billion a year!

The hypocrisy is staggering when you consider that the Obama administration's "drug war" budget has about twice as much money going into the criminal justice system than to treatment and prevention. This is despite President Obama having said many times that drug use needs to be looked at as a health issue. In California, where you can get a prescription for medical marijuana, the L.A. County District Attorney claims that state law doesn't allow dispensaries to sell it -- and they recently busted a popular distributor and charged him with 24 felonies!

In January, President Obama nominated a holdover from the Bush years, Michele Leonhart, to head up the Drug Enforcement Administration. She has a history of cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries, and most recently denying the research application of a University of Massachusetts botanist. This is a ludicrous appointment, since Attorney General Eric Holder has already ordered federal agents not to go after medical marijuana outlets. So is the administration talking out of both sides of its mouth? What follows is an excerpt from American Conspiracies:

But isn't it high time for complete reform of our drug policy? We've got a shadow economy happening, friends. One hundred million Americans have sampled marijuana, and that includes almost half of all the seniors in high school. More than 35 million Americans have tried cocaine at some point, and almost as many have taken LSD or other hallucinogenic drugs.

Meantime, we've got "grows" or "gardens" of pot springing up all across our western states on public lands -- and that includes almost 40 percent of national forests. About 3.1 million marijuana plants were confiscated in national forests over a one-year period, September 2007 to September 2008, carrying a street value calculated at $12.4 billion.

I mean, how stupid are we? Go back to Chicago and Prohibition, when Al Capone became more powerful than the government because we'd outlawed the selling of liquor. Legalize marijuana, and you put the cartels out of business! Instead, we're going to further militarize our border and go shoot it out with them? And if a few thousand poor Mexicans get killed in the crossfire, too bad. I don't get that mentality. I don't understand how this is the proper way, the adult answer, when they could do it another way.

Eventually, after thousands more people get killed, they'll probably arrive at the same answer: legalization. Because there's nothing else that will work.

And legalization would go a long way toward giving us a more legitimate government, too -- a government that doesn't have to shield drug dealers who happen to be doing its dirty work. There are clearly people in government making money off drugs. Far more people, statistically, die from prescription drugs than illegal drugs. But the powers that be don't want you to be able to use a drug that you don't have to pay for, such as marijuana. Thirteen states now have voted to allow use of medical marijuana. Thank goodness Barack Obama just came out with a new policy stating that the feds are not going to interfere as long as people are following state law. That's a great step toward legalization.

You can't legislate stupidity, is an old saying I used in governing. Just because you make something illegal doesn't mean it's going away, it just means it'll now be run by criminals. But is using an illegal drug a criminal offense, or a medical one? I tend to believe medical, because that's customarily how addictions are treated, we don't throw you in jail for them. In a free society, that's an oxymoron -- going to jail for committing a crime against yourself.

The government is telling people what's good for them and what's not, but that should be a choice made by us, not those in power. Look at the consequences when it's the other way around.

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