President Obama did not see the 200 or so California medical cannabis protestors who came to greet him eye-to-eye during his short San Francisco fundraising stop Tuesday afternoon. His motorcade took Second Street, while the protestors were on Third Street, and by the time word got around, the President was already in the W Hotel, collecting about a million dollars in campaign donations.
Perhaps he looked down briefly from the 20th floor “Extreme Wow Suite” atop the W in SOMA, and with bionic eyes made out signs like “Save Our Jobs” (with the “O” being a big cannabis leaf), or “$100 million in taxes up in smoke”.
But even if he could, would those signs stand out amid the anti-oil pipeline protestors (Stop Keystone XL) who were intermingling with the Occupy Wall Streeters and pissed off landlords? It's hard to tell.
That the President took Second Street while the protesters were on Third might be a snarky observation, but it's also an observation with symbolism: Earlier in the day, at the press conference at the Marriott, a roomful of activists couldn't fathom how medical marijuana is polling at 70 percent approval, while political leaders could be so terrified of the issue. Four U.S. Attorneys have used cancer patients as a public punching bag Oct. 7, and since then have gone on to threaten dozens of landlords across the state with forfeiture for harboring a marijuana-related business. Raids on Northstone Organics, threats against Prop 19 author Rich Lee's landlord, and the tax assessment against Harborside Health Center make it clear the government wants examples made of industry voices.
While Rep. Tom Ammiano had cannabis' back at the press conference Tuesday, he said the latest raids haven't reverberated in Sacramento, where the legislative session is out.
There were no appearances Tuesday by San Francisco Sheriff candidate Ross Mirkarimi, wannabe mayor Leland Yee, or aspiring district attorney David Onek. Perhaps they are just fairweather friends to cannabis. Perhaps they all had scheduling conflicts. Perhaps weed law reform isn't a political sideshow.
But it doesn't help when Obama's on Second Street and the movement is on Third — when it literally is a sideshow.
One gets the sense that America's elected representatives cannot help Americans, but Americans are helping themselves.
Celebrity grower Ed Rosenthal said Tuesday that this fall's outdoor marijuana harvest in California would be huge and cheap, thanks to more growing than ever.
At least one of Colorado's five legalization initiatives looks very strong for 2012, National Cannabis Industry Association president Aaron Smith said Tuesday.
California also has at least four initiatives in the works. The odds are long and the time is short, watchers say, but even a doomed play in the Golden State in 2012 scores tons of news stories and increases the cause's visibility.
Prop 19 might have failed, but it pushed the Governor to make pot possession an infraction. Amid unprecedented media coverage of the issue, national support for recreational legalization jumped four percent in a single year. And network effects from technology and huge demographic shifts are driving exponential growth in the ranks of pot law reformers, watchers note.
This October, the White House asked citizens to create new ideas for the country, and if they received enough online votes, the White House would respond. The effort became a runaway success for marijuana law reformers.
Which would be easily dismissible, because it happens all the time online. Except this time it was apparently enough to rile some drug warriors.
On October 18, narcotics cops in Los Angeles used federal drug trafficking interdiction time and resources — tax dollars that could be spent making the streets safer — to try and lobby the White House for a continued drug war.
According to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition — who obtained a leaked copy of the e-mail — on Tuesday at 9:36 a.m., the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area intelligence office called LA CLEAR e-mailed a huge group of cops, asking them to sign a pro-drug war petition. Here's the full email:
Subject: Petition Against Marijuana Legalization
Date: October 18, 2011 9:36:30 AM PDT
WE NEED YOUR HELP: The legalizers are totally dominating the White House "We the People" Web site — they have more signatures than every other issue combined.
CADCA's petition, supporting drug prevention and against marijuana legalization, is up to 1,000 signatures but we need every other network in the field to mobilize to help us get as many more signatures as possible in the next two weeks.
Please sign onto CADCA's petition NOW and GET AS MANY OTHER PEOPLE AS YOU CAN TO SIGN ON by November 4th!!
To view and sign on to CADCA's petition all you have to do is:
1. Go to: http://wh.gov/2Yh
2. Create a username and password, if you don't have one already.
3. After you have created an account, return to the petition link and hit refresh.
4. Click 'Sign Petition' button.
Petition Against Marijuana Legalization
Tuesday, October 18 - Tuesday, October 18, 2011
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!!
Please Sign Petition,
Go to: http://wh.gov/2Yh
Thanks for your support, Los Angles HIDTA
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition member and former Los Angeles Police Department deputy police chief Stephen Downing said that never in his decades on the force did he spend his workday trying to gin up votes for a worthless online poll to save his job.
Downing says it was and probably is against department policy to engage in politicking during work hours or in uniform during off-work hours.
“Absolutely. You do not engage in politics period. That was the rule in our department, you don't do it.”
Six hours after LA CLEAR marshaled the drug war machine to battle the stoner vote, Sr. Deputy Director of LA CLEAR Eric Deroian blasted out a follow-up message saying they had messed up.
“Earlier today an e-mail blast went out from the LA CLEAR Training Site. This e-mail was political in nature and should not have been sent out on or to governmental e-mails. Please disregard/delete,” Deroian wrote.
Deroian did not immediately return calls for comment. But the saga reminds us of a quote by Gandhi we recently learned. It's apocryphal, of course:
"First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at it you.
Then they fight you over a meaningless online poll, instead of doing their job fighting armed meth and oxycontin traffickers.
Then you win."