Weed Wars: Is This The Best You Can Do?

It’s been another pathetic week in the war on marijuana, in which the federal government makes a spectacle of itself by redefining the concept of “futile gesture” by — get this — busting 77-year-old music legend Willie Nelson for marijuana, and moving to ban fake pot.

What? You didn’t realize that weed-head Willie and counterfeit cannabis were among the biggest problems facing our nation? Well, neither did the rest of us, but we all got to chip in and pay for this Thanksgiving week tomfoolery with our ever-more-scarce tax dollars.

When Willie’s tour bus was detained Friday at a Border Patrol checkpoint in Texas because it smelled like marijuana, he ended up going to jail because officers, conducting a “probable cause” search based on the aroma, found six ounces of pot onboard, which Nelson claimed.

Five and a half hours later, he had bonded out and was back on the road towards Austin, a few dollars and a few ounces of weed shy of where he’d started. And the vital national interest of arresting and detaining a 77-year-old man — who is presumably old enough to decide for himself which herbs to use — is “served.”

In the same vein, this week’s heralded banning of fake pot by the Drug Enforcement Administration was another exercise in federal futility.

Since the 73-year-old federal war on marijuana has been such a smashing success (yes, that is sarcasm), why not extend the ban to fake pot, as well?

And while the DEA was at it — perhaps in an effort to ensure their own job security, should pot be legalized in the near future, as appears inevitable — they went ahead and made fake pot (synthetic analogues of THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana) — a Schedule I banned substance, right up there with heroin, methamphetamine, and, you guessed it, real marijuana.

Rather than respond to the widespread perception that the pot laws simply aren’t working — and beyond that, are destroying the lives and livelihoods of many productive citizens — the DEA cynically spreads its net even farther by making more substances subject to its draconian yet ineffective reach.

Is the fact that Willie Nelson is still getting busted for pot, after all these years, a sign that nothing has changed? Does the fact that the DEA still doesn’t get that its entire paradigm of marijuana enforcement is outdated, unneeded and silly mean that the forces of sanity have lost the cannabis debate?

I don’t think so. I believe the fact that Willie’s bust receives such attention, with the overwhelming reaction being one of sympathy and solidarity with the elderly singer means that we’ve made lots of progress.

And I believe the fact that the DEA used its “emergency powers” to make fake pot, of all things, a Schedule I controlled substance doesn’t mean that the vast federal agency is winning the drug war.

What you are seeing are the death throes of the law enforcement-driven approach to cannabis.

Unfortunately, a lot more lives will be impacted before sanity wins the day in the American War On Marijuana.

About the author: Steve Elliott, a working journalist since 1982, is editor of Toke of the Town, Village Voice Media’s site of cannabis news, views, rumor and humor. His cat weighs 20 pounds.


6 Responses to Weed Wars: Is This The Best You Can Do?

  1. Zardoz November 27, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    The DEA will never recognize the futility of its existence because that would mean that they would be out of a job. After all, they used to enforce alcohol prohibition, and when that ended, they simply changed substances to go after. They need jobs, prison guards need jobs, law enforcement people need jobs and a source of income from the federal bribe money, and because of this, we have what we have today.

  2. G November 28, 2010 at 10:23 am

    True but you still have heroin, E, Meth, The true killers and things that hurt people I dont understand how the dont see this as medicine and just allow it to be legal to help people and still have those jobs with the other drugs still be present. Those drugs don’t come here because we dont have any junkies.
    I’m sure if grass was legal they would find another culprit maybe something like oxygen.

    • David November 28, 2010 at 2:37 pm

      Surely you don’t really mean to bracket MDMA (‘ecstasy’) in the same risk category as diamorphine (‘heroin’)?
      Okay, MDMA is the one drug about which public belief about its harmfulness most outstrips scientific analysis of it’s harmfulness (i.e. if people on average assume, say, cannabis, to be somewhat more dangerous than the evidence says it is, people assume MDMA to vastly more dangerous than the evidence says it is) – but still, even a cursory analysis of the relative mortality rates and other research will show that MDMA is essentially non-addictive (unlike diamorphine or methamphetamine) and far less lethal – about on a par with horseriding according to one famous pharmacologist.

    • Grantrus November 30, 2010 at 1:37 am

      Don’t forget ALCOHOL…the single truest killer all things considered!! There is no more dangerous of a substance to detox off of than alcohol. ASK ANY DOCTOR!!

  3. Mutopia November 28, 2010 at 10:32 am

    As disgusted as I am with the Willie Nelson affair, I have to disagree with your outrage regarding the synthetic THC products.

    Substances like JWH-018 are NOT like the natural herb, and often cause extreme paranoia, hallucinations, and all sorts of undesirable side effects (not to mention the primary, unpleasantly synthetic high).

    I love cannabis, I hate the drug war, but cannabis substitutions like JWH-018 and MDMA substitutions like Mephedrone are FAR WORSE for party-goers than the substances they are trying to emulate. I realize these substitutions only exist because of prohibition, but unless prohibition is extended to include these substances, they will continue to cheaply flood the black market and possibly hurt people.

    • Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ November 28, 2010 at 11:47 am

      Drug prohibition doesn’t work. Saying that it drug prohibition doesn’t work does not mean that I’m “in favor” of anyone using JWH-018 or any other synthetic chemicals.

      It just means that drug prohibition — of any substance — is an unworkable policy.

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