Sanjay Gupta Changes Mind on Weed, But Obama Still Bogarting Joints

by lizard

The US war against drugs has been costly, stupid, and completely ineffective. The drug war also exposes how criminal the criminal justice system has become; asset forfeiture turns innocent until proven guilty on its head, for example, and a few days ago it was disclosed that the DEA has been using NSA data, and then backtracking to hide this fact.

There was a recent bright spot: Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a piece titled Why I changed my mind on weed:

Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called “Weed.” The title “Weed” may sound cavalier, but the content is not.

I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.

Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”

Well, I am here to apologize.

I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.

Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”

They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works. Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado. She started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on seven different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to 2 or 3 per month.

I have seen more patients like Charlotte first hand, spent time with them and come to the realization that it is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve marijuana.

We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.

Yes, we have, and it’s nice to hear someone in a somewhat influential position acknowledge that. Remember, Gupta was being seriously considered by Obama after his first election to be the US Surgeon General. Maybe if Gupta is in an apologizing mood, he can also apologize to Michael Moore for his false comments regarding Sicko.

Locally, the Missoulian recently reported on Jason Washington breaking his post-trial silence:

Jason Washington broke his post-trial media silence Tuesday in a phone interview with the Missoulian from a private prison in Shelby.

“It’s been a blatant, mean, ugly attack,” he said.

His medical marijuana business, Big Sky Medical Marijuana Dispensary, was one of the largest operations in the state, which also made it appealing to federal investigators, he said.

And in targeting such a high-profile community member, he contended, prosecutors were able to shut the door on Missoula’s flourishing medical marijuana industry.

“The simple fact is there are still dispensaries in Butte,” Washington said. “They said this is against federal law … then why are there still dispensaries in the state of Montana and 18 other states?”

Washington also said this:

“My understanding was the federal government would only come after people who were in clear violation of state law,” Washington explained.

The reason why Jason Washington thought this is because that is what Eric Holder led people to believe back in 2009 with this memo which states, in part, that:

As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.

Unfortunately, Holder’s DoJ is a cesspool of injustice, and even in the state of Washington, where voters are trying to do that whole democracy thing by voting to legalize cannabis, the raids continue:

In a series of coordinated raids, federal agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raided marijuana dispensaries in Washington State on Wednesday, despite the fact the state legalized the substance last November.

DEA spokeswoman Jodie Underwood confirmed the operation to The Associated Press and said all search warrants had been executed by Wednesday evening. Underwood did not go into detail about the raids.

Voters may vote, and doctors can cite all the evidence they want regarding the absurdity of maintaining the schedule I designation for cannabis. None of that is going to make a difference. Why?

I’m afraid we, as a nation, have gone too far down the police state path to turn back now. The drug war has been one of the main justifications for militarizing the police over the last few decades, and sucking up federal dollars has entrenched that disturbing trend, as exemplified by Radley Balko’s book, Rise of the Warrior Cop.

In a piece put out by the Daily Beast earlier this year, Nick Gillespie writes about how Obama transformed himself from The Choom Gang to Drug Warrior. Here is the introduction:

While a high school student at Honolulu’s elite Punahou School, Barack Obama was a high-flying member of a pot-smoking, party-hearty crew that called itself “the Choom Gang.” As biographer David Maraniss revealed in last year’s Barack Obama: The Story the future president “had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted ‘Intercepted!,’ and took an extra hit.”

In his current trip to meet with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto, Obama will once again be talking about illegal drugs and interceptions—and he will almost certainly continue his long habit of bogarting other people’s joints. As CNN summarizes it, one of the “key issues” of the trip is to strengthen efforts to stop the flow of pot, cocaine, methamphetamines, and other drugs from Mexico into the United States.

Despite thinly sourced stories by Obama boosters that the president in his second term “will pivot to the drug war” that he privately considers a “failure,” there’s every reason to believe any new initiatives coming out of this Mexico trip will disappoint the liberals, libertarians, and smattering of conservatives who took Barack Obama seriously when he questioned longstanding drug policies.

Yeah, anyone who still takes the president seriously when he opens his mouth is a fool.


  1. JC

    I might say that maybe Eric Holder is having a minor change of heart. But I’m not sure about the source.

    “I think there are too many people in jail for too long, and for not necessarily good reasons…

    The war on drugs is now 30, 40 years old. There have been a lot of unintended consequences. There’s been a decimation of certain communities, in particular communities of color.”

    Now I can’t verify that the voice on the recording is his, so it might be a MSM conspiracy to make up some news on a slow friday.

  2. Here is the WSJ review of “Rise of the Warrior Cop”. It’s a great meeting of the minds of civil libertarians left and right. My husband was particularly annoyed about the optometrist who was killed when a SWAT team raided his house after hearing him make a bet with his friends on a college football game. Or the raid on a woman suspected of committing student loan fraud. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323848804578608040780519904.html
    And the Wisconsin DNR SWAT team that raided the St Francis of Assisi no kill shelter and killed “Giggles” the Fawn.
    The asset seizures story is also making everybody pissed off. Here’s link to the New Yorker story; http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/08/12/130812fa_fact_stillman?mobify=0

  3. jack ruby

    Hard to feel bad for a guy like Jason Washington. If you’re going to invest that kind of capital in a business venture that is illegal under federal criminal law and subject to being to shut down and seized at any time you have to be prepared to face the consequences. He took the risk and lost. Still a douche move by the justice department though. Nothings going to change in the war on drugs anytime soon. As you say its far too entrenched. Maybe when there are enough states with marijuana legalization statutes to number enough individual senators with enough pressure on them to swing some weight around it could reach a critical mass…at least as to pot.

    • lizard19

      I’m not quoting his comments for sympathy, but as a measure of sentiment at the time the memo was being interpreted.

  4. Steve W

    Who will be the last person arrested and imprisoned for a bad policy based on fear and ignorance?

    • If you’re going to paraphrase John Kerry on Viet Nam, you should at least give him credit for it.

      • Steve W

        Yeah, i suppose you are right.




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