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Pot and POTUS

Crackdowns on large-scale marijuana purveyors may indeed be warranted



The people close to me—and maybe some folks a few tables away at the bar—know what I think about politicians.

I've spent a lot of time over the years following our esteemed leaders around with microphones, and some of the things I recorded disgusted me and pissed me off—and generally made me think less of politicians as a subset of humanity. I always start with the assumption that whatever a politician says into my recorder is carefully crafted bullshit aimed at deceiving.

I don't take it personally. They aren't trying to deceive me. They're deceiving you.

Anyway, sometimes I agree with a politician, and that happened recently when President Barack Obama talked with Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone about medical marijuana. In an interview conducted the day after Easter, the president said his administration will crack down on large-scale operations, which it has done, but leave MMJ patients alone.

"The only tension that's come up—and this gets hyped up a lot—is a murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical-marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users," the leader of the free world told the icon of the free press.

People have attacked the Obama administration for cracking down harder than the Bush Jr. administration on medical marijuana, for thrusting a Plexiglas shield between us and our meds—and closing the store. Threatening letters and raids have shut down hundreds of shops in California, Washington and Colorado. The MMJ activists and advocates have cried foul, squawking at length about the president denying patients of their right to God-given medication.

Not so, IMHO.

"What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana," The Man told Wenner. "I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana."

So, before you freak out and wave your arms around and shout about the Obama administration stepping all up in your shit to keep you from your meds, consider the message very carefully: I don't see any conflict between what the feds are doing to dispensaries and my access to meds. It seems to me the president is telling us he's willing to let us eat the cake voters gave us in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act—he just wants it tightly controlled and not mass-produced.

If you don't think large-scale grow operations are diverting MMJ to the gen pop, then you're stupid or lying. It's happening, especially in California, where they have fewer dispensary regulations. Marijuana is leaking out of the medical system at the seams, and I don't really see a problem with patching a few leaks. In the end, I think the president is doing the right thing. I've said this before, and I'll say it again and again and again: In a perfect world, my herbal remedy would be legal. Completely legal, and regulated à la alcohol. But the president and I live in this world, the real one. So we have to make do.

I think the next-best thing is to grow your own, without any threat of federal raids or boot heels or weapons drawn in the name of democracy. I wouldn't lose much sleep if Gov. Jan jabbed her finger in the president's face and told him to come on in and throw locks on every dispensary in Arizona. I probably wouldn't lose any sleep at all.

I'd just head down to Sea of Green and get myself some lights.

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