Medical Pot Opponents Take Aim at the First Amendment

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

The Obama administration is now threatening to prosecute media outlets that publish ads for medical marijuana. Stunning. I expected Obama to be a disappointment on these issues, but not to this degree. (Thanks to Libby for the link.)

Meanwhile, law enforcement officials in Los Angeles have pressured the RAND Corporation to remove from its website a study showing no link between medical marijuana dispensaries and crime.

 

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24 Responses to “Medical Pot Opponents Take Aim at the First Amendment”

  1. #1 |  FTP | 

    Despicable.

  2. #2 |  Lucy Steigerwald | 

    Hey, if the other Amendments don’t mean shit to them, why the First one? Why not just fully devote your life to fucking over sick people and diminishing the freedoms of the rest of us?

  3. #3 |  Vertov | 

    This is about a power structure (namely, the Department of Justice) not-too-gently reminding California that its in charge of drug policy.

    To DOJ, those pot dispensaries in California are a mockery of national drug laws, and thus of law enforcement in general. Its ridiculously easy to find a doctor that will agree to writing up a prescription for marijuana.

    I personally approve of this gray market since it makes more people realize how hysterical and unrealistic current drug policy is, but all the DOJ sees are people laughing at them.

    During Prohibition, there were exemptions for sacramental wine and such – to the DOJ, this is like someone opening up a “church” that hands out a bottle of Jack to each parishioner each week.

    DOJ wants to enforce the law and be “respected,” and Obama, who is one of the most pro-Establishment presidents we’ve had, is backing it up to the hilt.

  4. #4 |  John Jenkins | 

    It’s actually an interesting question under existing First Amendment jurisprudence whether a charge is possible for publishing an advertisement for the purchase of illegal drugs. It’s sort of a crossroads of crime-facilitating speech (see: http://www2.law.ucla.edu/volokh/facilitating.pdf) and the commercial speech doctrine.

    I’m pretty much a free speech absolutist, so I think that both doctrines are incorrect, but I think there is a colorable argument under existing law that you could prosecute someone for placing an ad or publishing an ad for illegal drugs under federal law. I did note that one U.S. Attorney quoted in the article seems to back down from the stronger position in the update to the article.

  5. #5 |  Bob | 

    From the article:

    “The actions of the Department of Justice are simply baffling.”

    No, it makes perfect sense if your ultimate goal is a Police State and the Federalization of all prisons.

  6. #6 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Excuse me, but from the very first Obama struck me as an Academic Intellectual Far Left Liberal, On Each. such vermin love to enforce laws on others that they fully expect to be exempted from themselves (it goes with the Student/Faculty division, and poisons that entire faction of Liberalism). He also quite quickly displayed the sort of ego that absolutely HATES any questioning of its authority. Whatever his opinion of Pot, the states that are legalizing medical marijuana are challenging his authority, and therefore his (enormous) ego.

    So, from where I stand, Obama’s behavior is pretty much what I expected.

  7. #7 |  albatross | 

    Reason #234 why Barrack wont be getting my vote next November.

  8. #8 |  Veritas | 

    @ #7

    Sure, we just need a candidate on the ballot who is (A) less dangerous, (B) electable, and (C) not bugshit insane.
    Pickings are looking awfully slim these days.

  9. #9 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    RAND corporation is connected enough to tell LEOs in Los Angeles to pound sand and leave research to the adults. Funny how often the same types of suits will cite RAND Corp studies when it suits their agenda.

  10. #10 |  Don't comment much | 

    #4 John Jenkins wrote:

    It’s actually an interesting question under existing First Amendment jurisprudence whether a charge is possible for publishing an advertisement for the purchase of illegal drugs. It’s sort of a crossroads of crime-facilitating speech (see: http://www2.law.ucla.edu/volokh/facilitating.pdf) and the commercial speech doctrine.

    I think that hits the nail on the head.

    There may be ways for publishers and citizens to combat this, that are both legal and politically effective. Some ideas:

    1. “Tombstone” adverts. These would just give the name and address of the MMJ organization. They would not contain any text stating that MMJ could be obtained there, or even mention MMJ. Therefore they are not advertising any federally illegal activity.

    2. Adverts by fully identified individuals, along the lines of “I am John Doe, 123 Any Street, … I found excellent MMJ at …”. These would be mere statements of past fact, not advertising or inducing others to present federally illegal activities. If the feds want to arrest John Doe for obtaining federally illegal MMJ, they’ll need more evidence than his extrajudicial confession to meet the corpus delicti rule and try him. Even if they do try him in federal court, Californians are unlikely to convict him for simple possession, and the trials would likely spark political outrage.

    3. Adverts giving names and publicly available contact information for every DOJ attorney responsible for the policy, stating something like “These are the people responsible for perfectly California-legal MMJ outlets, such as ABC Collective at address XYZ, DEF collective at … etc. being unable to advertise their California-legal goods. Please contact them and tell them what you think of their actions…”

    These, and many other civil forfeiture actions are utterly outrageous. Most decent people think them entirely at odds with the principles and rights enshrined in the Constitution. Only prosecutors don’t think so yet. But few have ever accused them of being decent people.

  11. #11 |  albatross | 

    Veritas:

    No, it needs to cost Obama to have pissed all over his supporters. It needs to be seen to cost him, hopefully to cost him the election. Because 2012 isnt going to be the last election we ever have, and I’d like the next candidate I vote for to get a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach when he thinks about betraying a whole bunch of the stuff he ran on now that he’s in office and the other party is noticeably more nauseating than usual. I’d like the next guy who gets into office by pretending to be the guy who is going to push back on the police state at home, empire abroad, impunity for the powerful agenda to fear his base even more than he fears being called unserious or soft on terror by some mouth-breather on Fox or CNN, perhaps even more than he fears crossing the intelligence services or the pentagon. Ideally, he will be thinking “Gosh, I sure wish I could cave in on this retroactive immunity for torturers thing, because those guys can play pretty rough, but if I do, I’ll lose the next election just like Obama did in 2012.”

    If it costs nothing to piss all over your base as long as you can point to Michelle Bachman and say “see, shes even worse than me,” then amoral career politicians like Obama will keep a steady stream of liquid coming down on his supporters.

  12. #12 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    #6 C.S.P. Schofield:

    When Obama was in the Illinois senate, he pushed through a bill that required the police to record interrogations and confessions in capital cases. This looked to me as though he actually cared about civil liberties.

    ****

    An upcoming attempt to use jury nullification in a marijuana case. I had no idea that you could ask for nullification at a trial, but it turns out that you can if you represent yourself.

    From a previous trial: “And yet, Forchion’s desperate arguments—and his undeniable charisma—appeared to have some effect. One juror started crying after his compelling opening statement, insisting she couldn’t convict him. She got tossed from the jury.” I didn’t know judges could do that.

    More First Amendment: “As a condition of his parole he was forbidden to talk publicly about marijuana legalization. Yet Forchion promptly did just that, speaking to newspapers—including PW , which ran a cover story on Forchion in May 2002—and even filming a pro-marijuana commercial that aired on New Jersey cable TV. Forchion’s parole was revoked and he was sent back to jail in August 2002. But once again he had a plan. He filed a writ of habeas corpus claiming his First Amendment right to free speech had been violated, and a federal judge agreed, springing him in January 2003 and sending him back into ISP.”

  13. #13 |  FTP | 

    @Nancy Lebovitz
    Thanks for sharing that story about.

    The judge tossing the juror seems fair. In making the comment she did, the juror was admitting to the court that she had already formed an opinion about the case. Similar to the way a juror would be dismissed during juror selection if he admited to having already formed an opinion about the case. I could be wrong here. I just know that if the situation were reversed (that is, if a juror admitted that there was no way he could possibly acquit the defendant), I would want that juror tossed.

  14. #14 |  ??? | 

    @#12:
    Ignore #6, he’s got ego and reality-detachment problems of his own. He doesn’t know what the left is other than “not the right.” Leave him be.

    Who stands to gain from this ridiculousness? What voters are particularly interested in marijuana being criminalized to the same level of crack cocaine, other than bible-thumpers that wouldn’t vote for Obama anyway?

  15. #15 |  Windy | 

    #8 “Sure, we just need a candidate on the ballot who is (A) less dangerous, (B) electable, and (C) not bugshit insane.
    Pickings are looking awfully slim these days.”

    That candidate would be Ron Paul.

  16. #16 |  Jerry Alexander | 

    Tell the Classmates of these – Dirty Agents – children what their love one really does for a living.
    It could be called the “Rust Movement” like Rust works from the inside out.I`m sure the Classmates will remind them,the Agents Children,now,and then what their Agent relatives are up to,and like Cock Roaches they,the Agents sibling(s) will take the message home,and spread it there…The Rust will soon Appear on the surface of the Agent.
    I mean! what kind of people are these “Agents”? Are they really Americas?Do they actually have human families?Obviously they don`t give a damn what their neighbors think about them ..Wait!! does anyone know an “Agent”?
    Where are these Agents Stored after their shift?On a Rotating Rack like we see in a Dry Cleaners.

  17. #17 |  Julian | 

    #14: I’m not terribly sure any appreciable number of voters really cares that much about the issue personally (though I could be wrong, of course). My “feel” of the situation is that specific institutions have significant interests that are served by Marijuana Prohibition and that, because of the money, media attention, and voter-loyalty that these institutions can bring, the “importance” of their concerns are amplified beyond their numbers. So what institutions am I talking about? Police Departments, Police Unions, Private Prison corps, Prison Guard Unions, Police Equipment Manufacturers, and perhaps DOJ, ATF, Border Patrol, DHS, and the FBI.

    The interests of the first four orgs are economic and clear, though if you don’t mind some fuzzy thinking, it should be equally obvious that Prohibition gives them a reason to exist, and thus, justifies both their existence and the expansion of their authority, something all Organizations feel a need to pursue (See DHS). The Federal Bureaus don’t gain revenue or purpose from drug offenses the way those first four do(minus ATF), but Prohibition touches on their remit in secondary ways and, like Vertov @3 said, there’s also the matter of pride; of keeping the “scofflaws” in line, to be considered.

  18. #18 |  Julian | 

    @15:

    As much as I agree with some of the stuff Mr. Paul says, and believe allot of the stuff I don’t agree with (gold standard, leaving hc to charities) would never get implemented, he has some rather troubling ties to White Supremacist and Neo-Confederate groups in his past that make him a rather problematic candidate. Moreover, I’m not terribly sure Mr. Paul actually wants to win the office; It seems to me he’s always been more interested in using his campaigns as a way to focus protest against all the nonsense our gov gets up to, and get people really talking about political issues instead of just rooting for whichever football team they identify with.

  19. #19 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “Meanwhile, law enforcement officials in Los Angeles have pressured the RAND Corporation to remove from its website a study showing no link between medical marijuana dispensaries and crime”

    Paging Doctor Orwell, paging Doctor Orwell…

  20. #20 |  AZRanger | 

    It appears that the federal gov’t does not want any competition for their buddies, the Mexican Drug Cartels! I work on the border in a civilian role to assist in interdicting the importation of drugs across the border. The civilian groups patrolling against the Cartel activities has been so successful that bust amounts and dollar values have risen tremendously the last few yrs, and now we have the BLM wanting to close those very same areas to civilian access! They are attempting to steal 1.4 million acres of AZ desert that is mostly “public Lands” This land is exactly the very same area that the Cartels use to send a tremendous amount of grug and human trafficking northward! Before you all call me a racist, “has anyone seen a “rape tree?”
    We provide life-saving medical attention, food and water to many migrants in the desert who are on their last legs out there. This desert kills hundreds each yr who attempt to cross it under prepared.
    But I digress. Why are they closing access to those who are making a difference against the Cartels, the very same areas they mostly use! Check it out for yourselves! They are out of control, and THEY HAVE AN AGENDA!

  21. #21 |  Medical Pot Opponents Take Aim at the First Amendment | The … | Roots 2 Resin | 

    [...] See a rest here: Medical Pot Opponents Take Aim during a First Amendment | The … [...]

  22. #22 |  Terri | 

    They all have agendas. Those agendas have nothing good contained therein for the betterment of the average American citizen.

  23. #23 |  Ed Dunkle | 

    I really don’t see how any (credible) Republican candidate could be worse than Obama. Obama has done a superb job of destroying his base and energizing his opponents. Maybe he just doesn’t want to be president anymore.

  24. #24 |  CyniCAl | 

    “Stunning. I expected Obama to be a disappointment on these issues, but not to this degree.”

    Barack Obama — the bitch of Big Pharma, Big Drug Cartels and the DEA.

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