16 August 2016

Not the 420 News

On one hand, the Ninth Circuit ruled today that if Congress says don't spend money prosecuting medical marijuana "offenders" who followed state law, that's binding on the Department of Justice (PDF). (Echoes of the Boland Amendments are not so much intentional as unavoidable... and lead to questions that should be asked of all candidates for federal office, especially in the face of increasing quasipartisan polarization.) And the case name is just a bit too delicious to be entirely coincidental.

On the other hand, the DEA has refused to recognize recent (as in this century, not as in last week) scientific work on potential medical benefits of that same weedlike substance and kept marijuana on Schedule 1, because it allegedly has no medical value. <SARCASM> I'm thoroughly convinced that no moral judgments regarding "hippies" and/or "intoxicating side effects" influenced this decision. Meanwhile, tobacco — a "product" with far lower potential medical value than marijuana, and a far higher scientifically verified connection to harm — is not scheduled at all. </SARCASM> Of course, there are some treaty obligations making things harder... but it would have been much more intellectually honest to say so.

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As of today, there are eleven weeks remaining until we won't have to hear more 2016 campaigning (there will be plenty of campaign news, though, and I give things about two weeks before the first 2018 campaign announcements). Fortunately, if things go completely combover, I'm only a few kilometers from the border, even if I'm not medically fit to travel. That said, there's something other than single-payer healthcare north of that border from which the US could learn: How not to be a sore loser.

Only a few months ago, Justin Trudeau and his centrist party put a beatdown on the right-wing opposition. (Sound familiar? That's what we're looking at this year.) One thing that did not happen north of the border — though it's exactly what I expect to happen here — is bad sportsmanship by the losing parties. A few individuals went off the deep end, true enough; but one did not see the Tories proclaiming the end of the world, or even of their own individual careers, combined with vicious rhetoric essentially boiling down to "don't blame me when things go bad" (the barely-adult version of "I told you so!" that dominates in electoral politics across the West). Indeed, one hasn't even seen significant public displays of defiance from parts of the government that remained in Tory control, whether federally or provincially. The contrast with the defiance — in both words and (mis)deeds — from Heffalump leaders after the 2012 election is astounding.

The relationship of the preceding to the Boland Amendments (and officer misconduct that confirmed for me that the Naval Academy was doing a really bad job in the 1960s... which the Navy itself refused to do anything about) is left as an exercise for the body politic.