Friday, August 30, 2013

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

by Pa Rock
Cultural Commentator

I saw a comment on the Internet today which opined that Barack Obama was more like Nixon than Martin Luther King, Jr.  And while there have been times that I have regretted what I judge to be Obama's lack of belly-fire on certain issues, overall I would have to say that our current President has been instrumental in kicking down some doors that recently appeared to be all but impregnable. 

The Affordable Care Act, which could have been even more universal had it been based on the Medicare single-payer model, is nonetheless the law of the land and contains much in the way of needed assistance to millions who have historically struggled to have the most basic of health care.    Many Republicans seem to think anything which aids anybody is an abomination and needs to be excised from government – and many in the teabag fringe of that political entity feel that government itself needs to be excised from the national landscape. 

The United States Supreme Court has upheld the ACA (also known as “Obamacare”), and despite dozens and dozens of Republican attempts to repeal or defund the legislation, it remains standing tall, or at least upright, as one of the most significant social changes since the days of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency.

Another startling social change is the shift in public and government attitudes toward gay issues during the few scant years that Barack Obama has been in the White House.  The President himself struck down the silly military policy of "Don't Ask - Don't Tell," the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act after the Obama administration refused to enforce it, and thirteen states along with the District of Columbia, several counties in New Mexico, and Five Indian Nations now legally sanction gay marriage.

Would flabby-jowled, paranoid, sneaky, and eternally angry Dick Nixon have stood for any of that?   You can bet your bippy that he would have thrown down the full force of the FBI, CIA, IRS, and the Watergate Plumbers to block such progressive social movements.

And now the moral compass of social change has swung toward marijuana use, surely a topic that would have sent Tricky Dick howling over the edge of sanity.  It was those dope-smoking hippies, after all, who did so much to proclaim and showcase his evilness. 

For the past few years states have begun passing laws allowing for the regulated growing and distribution of marijuana for medicinal purposes, most if not all, through voter initiatives.   Last fall Washington and Colorado voted to legalize marijuana – for recreational purposes.    (Heavens to Murgatroyd!)   All of those laws were in direct opposition to federal law which forbade the production, sale, purchase, possession, or use of the devil weed.

So with this direct challenge to their supremacy on the marijuana front, what were the feds to do?   There were initial (and sporadic) attempts to enforce federal law, as well as a great deal of looking the other way – that is until yesterday when our government, the Obama-led federal government, signaled a marijuana paradigm shift of seismic proportions.

In a memo to the offices of all U.S. Attorneys, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said that the Justice Department has now relinquished power to the states to regulate the use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes – as long as the states have and enforce policies to safeguard public health and safety.

The dam, she is cracked - and the rainy season is upon us.  Change will soon be rushing forward from sea to shining sea!

Nixon, indeed!


Xobekim said...

This reminded me of the old hippie maxam "In cannabis fumus est verum", or there is truth in that smoke.

don said...

When I was 20 years old, I held a protest sign with that message. It was 1965 and the first glimmerings of war in Vietnam were coming into view.
Several demonstrators had been arrested for smoking weed and I selected that sign from a pile available to any who cared to participate.
Thanks for the memory.