Friday, February 17, 2012

Obama's federalism

I love taking conservatives to task for state's rights arguments. It's time to do the same to Obama. Here is one issue where he talked the state's rights talk and is now walking the federal walk:

Back when he was running for president in 2008, Barack Obama insisted that medical marijuana was an issue best left to state and local governments. "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue," he vowed, promising an end to the Bush administration's high-profile raids on providers of medical pot, which is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

But over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multi­agency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush. The feds are busting growers who operate in full compliance with state laws, vowing to seize the property of anyone who dares to even rent to legal pot dispensaries, and threatening to imprison state employees responsible for regulating medical marijuana. With more than 100 raids on pot dispensaries during his first three years, Obama is now on pace to exceed Bush's record for medical-marijuana busts. "There's no question that Obama's the worst president on medical marijuana," says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "He's gone from first to worst."

The federal crackdown imperils the medical care of the estimated 730,000 patients nationwide – many of them seriously ill or dying – who rely on state-sanctioned marijuana recommended by their doctors. In addition, drug experts warn, the White House's war on law-abiding providers of medical marijuana will only drum up business for real criminals. "The administration is going after legal dispensaries and state and local authorities in ways that are going to push this stuff back underground again," says Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, a former Republican senator who has urged the DEA to legalize medical marijuana, pulls no punches in describing the state of affairs produced by Obama's efforts to circumvent state law: "Utter chaos."

This is disgraceful. It's bad enough that he flip flopped on the state's rights issue. This policy has real consequences. It's not just about a bunch of stoners. People in real pain benefit from marijuana. Plus people and communities suffer from driving the drug trade underground. All his administration would have had to do was sit back and do nothing, allow these medical marijuana provides to do their business. But to take affirmative and seek them out is, as I said, disgraceful both ideologically and on a basic moral level.

Obama also has a ridiculous federalism view on gay marriage. I can't remember exactly how he spells it out. And as usual, I'm too lazy to look it up. But I think it is that he doesn't support federal marriage equality and just wants to leave it up for states to decide. Basically he is completely indifferent to the issue. If the majority of states want to restrict people's freedom they can just go right ahead. That's crap.

First of all, you have to take a side on the gay marriage issue. You can be for it, against it, or think that the state shouldn't have a role in marriage in the first place. To be indifferent on an issue that is about excluding a group of people certain rights is ridiculous as a person holding a public office, much less the presidency. And once you have your stance, you should believe that policy should be passed in every state. There is nothing fundamentally different from a gay couple in NY than a gay person from TN. Thus the policy, whatever you think it should be, should be the same in both states. Saying states should do what they want is a cop out.

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