– Jim McDermott has added his name to the small but growing list of Congressmen who are finally speaking up about the need to legalize marijuana as part of the response to our nation’s economic mess. Mary Ann Akers at the Washington Post writes about Howard Woolridge, the lobbyist for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. The conventional wisdom has long been that there’s a danger for politicians to embrace McDermott’s position because of the voters, but for some reason, Ron Paul keeps getting re-elected by wide margins in one of the most conservative parts of the country. The problem is not that voters will reject it. It’s that politicians and special interests (law enforcement agencies, prison lobbies, and pharmaceutical firms) have a strong interest in holding it back.
– A major bust in Belltown brought charges against 32 individuals for drug dealing. The answer to the PI’s question is No. Arresting people does not fix an area’s crack problem. Here’s my question: How many more decades will this approach have to fail before we finally recognize that it always fails?
– I’m having a lot of trouble understanding the logic inside Obama’s Justice Department. This week, they recommended that Charles Lynch, the medical marijuana dispensary owner who was raided by the Bush Justice Department, be sentenced to 5 years in prison. This is only weeks after Eric Holder said that Obama would no longer target those in medical marijuana states like Lynch who follow state law. The Times article quotes U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien as saying that Lynch was violating state law, which is clearly bullshit. Not only did Lynch have the mayor of the town at his side when he opened his dispensary, but during the trial, the Federal Prosecutors went out of their way to prevent the jury from knowing that he was following state law.
So to sum up the Obama Administration’s DOJ stances: We won’t prosecute people for torture because that’s looking towards the past, but we will honor previously-imposed mandatory minimum sentences for things that we no longer think should be enforced. I’m sorry, but that’s every bit as bad as the Bush Administration was. On issues of civil liberties, Obama and his fellow Democrats need to start getting serious or they’ll start bleeding independent voters before 2010.
– PubliCola writes about how Civil Liberties legislation fared in Olympia this session.