What Jimmy Said
President Jimmy Carter, in his Drug Abuse Message to the Congress on August 2, 1977, said the following:
“Marijuana continues to be an emotional and controversial issue. After four decades, efforts to discourage its use with stringent laws have still not been successful. More than 45 million Americans have tried marijuana and an estimated 11 million are regular users.
Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use. We can, and should, continue to discourage the use of marijuana, but this can be done without defining the smoker as a criminal. States which have already removed criminal penalties for marijuana use, like Oregon and California, have not noted any significant increase in marijuana smoking. The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse concluded five years ago that marijuana use should be decriminalized, and I believe it is time to implement those basic recommendations.
Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. This decriminalization is not legalization. It means only that the Federal penalty for possession would be reduced and a person would receive a fine rather than a criminal penalty. Federal penalties for trafficking would remain in force and the states would remain free to adopt whatever laws they wish concerning the marijuana smoker“.
What a wonderful, logical statement. He got it. He recognized the futility of the War on Cannabis and the Injustice that incarceration of personal use marijuana smokers is, even back then. Then he had the fortitude to say it.
I firmly believe the landscape of Federal Marijuana legislation would look very different today had Jimmy remained in the White House. I mean, Willie Nelson burned one on the roof with Carter’s son.
Instead, we got Ronald Reagan and now, 4 decades after Carter said we’d been at this 4 decades with no results, we’re still at it with no results.
What “The Gipper” Said
“Just Say No” brought about a Presidential shift in attitude toward marijuana and “Reefer Madness” began again.
The Gipper is quoted as saying, “I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast”. Really Ronnie? Did you really buy the results of that 1974 Health Tulane study where they used gas masks to pump enough smoke into those poor monkeys to suffocate them? I appreciate the raise I got under your Administration, but thanks for nothin’ when it comes to sensible marijuana legislation.
Then came George H.W. Bush. Not much changed under him. It was “hammer the potheads” as usual.
What “Poppy” Bush Said
“Some think there won’t be room for them in jail. We’ll make room.”
Poppy Bush is the Prez that closed off further applicants to the experimental federal medical marijuana program that Elvy Mussika and a few others still receive 300 joints a month through.
Oh, and he gave us the Drug Czars.
Thanks, Poppy! You helped create the Private Prison Industry.
Then we got Bill Clinton. Oh, my!
What “Slick Willie” Said
President Clinton admitted “trying” Marijuana but denied inhaling it. Of course, he also denied having sexual relations with Monica, so I’ll just leave that there.
He went on to enact very tough crime legislation, including stiffer penalties for Marijuana cases. To his credit, he conceded in a July 2015 address to the N.A.A.C.P Convention that the law he enacted in 1994 played a significant part in warping sentencing standards and lead to an era of mass incarceration. He said, “I signed a bill that made the problem worse, and I want to admit it.”
Thanks, Slick Willie. I guess hindsight is 20/20, but you should have had those glasses on in 1994.
Then George “Dubya” came along.
What “Dubya” Said
President George W. Bush was conflicted about marijuana. While he was strictly against cannabis legalization at the Federal level, even for medical use, he viewed it as a State’s Rights issue, saying in 1999, “I believe each state can choose that decision as they so choose.” Kinda redundant.
Dubya was reportedly a cocaine user in his youth. He wouldn’t answer the marijuana question while in office. He later stated that he didn’t “want some little kid doing what I tried”.
Thanks, Dubya. You got by with it in your youth and went on to be elected President, but you don’t want some kid to maybe follow the same path and, you know, become President? The logic escapes me.
Then we got Barack Obama.
What “Barry O” Said
When asked about marijuana usage President Obama stated “When I was a kid, I inhaled, frequently. That was the point”.
I gotta hand it to him for his honesty and the fact that he has commuted sentences for many non-violent drug offenders. His call to Congress to end mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders is applaudable, but his lack of action in pushing the DEA and Congress to de-schedule Marijuana casts a dismal pall on the brilliance of these other efforts.
Barry O’s term isn’t over yet, so I’ll save my thanks until January 20th, 2017, hoping against hope that he’ll make a significant contribution to ending the War on Cannabis.
What Will the Next One Say?
Who knows? As I watch the shenanigans of the 2016 Presidential Campaign I am convinced our system is flawed. Lies, mud-slinging, voter fraud, on-and-on, ad nauseum! I’ve never voted for an Independent, and I don’t get the math about Independent votes not counting or skewing results. From my perspective, voting one’s conscience is important, and sensible marijuana legislation is important to me. Gary and Jill have my attention. I’m on a mission to legalize it.
Back To Jimmy
The Gentleman from Plains, Georgia felt it was a State’s Rights issue. He did not advocate the use of marijuana, but he did view the Federal Laws regarding misdemeanor marijuana possession through the lens of compassion and reason. Would that we could see more support today for that reasoning.