Last Updated:October 24 @ 10:20 pm

Kincaid: Obama Finds a Treaty His Base Doesn’t Like

By Cliff Kincaid

The Obama Administration may be pro-United Nations in its general approach to foreign policy, but on the matter of illegal drugs, we may be seeing a retreat from global drug control. It is a major story that is starting to get some attention from a key component of Barack Obama’s political base—potheads. They fear that Obama may stay committed to various U.N. drug control treaties.

If Obama backs away from global drug control, in violation of these U.N. treaties, legalization of marijuana and other drugs could be an inevitable consequence on a national and international basis.

Obama, as The New York Times reports, is in a tight spot. Federal legal action against Colorado and Washington because of voter-approved initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in those states “would raise political complications for President Obama because marijuana legalization is popular among liberal Democrats who just turned out to re-elect him,” the paper notes. Drug legalization is also popular with hedge fund billionaire George Soros, one of the main funders of the pro-marijuana movement who also financed various Super PACs that worked for Obama’s reelection.

Far-left websites such as Salon are trying to pressure Obama to leave Colorado and Washington alone by running articles with such ludicrous headlines as “Legal marijuana is good for kids” and “Could pot stop breast cancer?”

In fact, many studies link marijuana to mental illness. Salon itself acknowledges this danger, noting in one small article that “the drug’s potential to induce psychosis is considered a greater public health concern now that the drug is legal for recreational use in Washington and Colorado, and for medical use in a growing number of states.”

Libertarian groups such as the Cato Institute and the Independent Institute are also arguing for Obama to abandon the war on drugs. But there is a problem: “Marijuana use in both states continues to be illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act,” The New York Times story said. This is true. But there is another problem for the drug legalizers: keeping marijuana and other drugs illegal is a U.S. treaty obligation.

As noted by retired Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky and Calvina Fay, Executive Director of the Drug Free America Foundation, the 1961 International Convention on Narcotic Drugs outlaws marijuana and other drugs. It is supported by two other treaties—the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Drugs and the 1988 Anti-Trafficking Convention. “The U.S. was a prime mover of these multilateral treaties and largely responsible for their signature and ratification by virtually every country in the world,” they point out.

Levitsky, a former member of the International Narcotics Control Board, is a professor at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

In an interview with Accuracy in Media, Asa Hutchinson, former administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, reiterated that the U.S. was the “driving force” behind international standards for drug control through treaty law. The issue, he said, is whether the U.S is now going to “retreat globally.”

Actions by states may not themselves actually constitute a treaty violation, he said. “But if the federal government does not maintain an approach consistent with our treaty obligations, then it becomes a treaty violation,” he added. This, then, could lead to the “unraveling” of the international obligations as other countries following the U.S. lead might also back away from enforcing the treaties.

Raymond Yans, President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), says the Obama Administration must “resolve the contradiction between the federal and state levels in the implementation of that country’s obligations under the drug control conventions.” He went on to request the Government of the United States “to take the necessary measures to ensure full compliance with the international drug control treaties within the entire territory of the United States, in order to protect the health and well-being of its citizens.”

“We don’t know what the Obama Administration is going to say,” noted Hutchinson. In the past, however, at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, Obama had said, “I personally, and my administration’s position, is that legalization is not the answer.”

“It’s a federal-state issue right now,” Hutchinson said. “The Justice Department has to address it.”

When the Obama Administration objected to a states’ rights approach on immigration, he noted, the state of Arizona was taken to court by the Justice Department and sued for allegedly going beyond federal law. Logically, Colorado and Washington should now be taken to court, he said. But the politics of the matter, in the sense that some members of Obama’s base are dope-smokers and some financial backers of his campaign were drug legalizers, could “get in the way of consistent legal policy,” he added.

Hutchinson said the movement to legalize drugs has been successful because of Soros and other billionaires (such as Peter Lewis of Progressive Insurance), who have put significant resources into the campaigns. Their first step, he noted, was to claim “medical” uses for the drug, and get it accepted on that basis.

“They have had a very sophisticated strategy,” he said, which was developed over the course of decades. “They have taken advantage of the medical marijuana aspect of the debate to open the door for broader legalization.”

Hutchinson is among the nine former heads of the DEA who urged Attorney General Eric Holder in a letter to take a stand against legalization of marijuana by the states. “To my knowledge,” he said, “we have not received a response.”

Hutchinson is scheduled to talk about this problem on Wednesday, December 12, at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank where a “research fellow” by the name of Will Wilkinson had declared, “I smoke marijuana, and I like it.”

John A. Allison, retired chairman & CEO of BB&T, is the new president and CEO of the Cato Institute and reportedly wants the think tank to avoid the pro-marijuana and pro-homosexual rights cheerleading that occurred under his predecessor, Edward Crane.

In addition to the outstanding legal issues, Levitsky and Fay point out the potential consequences of legalization include “increases in drugged driving, domestic violence and marijuana use by youth and an infestation of ‘drug tourism.’”

They added, “Since marijuana use has been linked to mental illness and also interferes with the cognitive development in adolescents, these could become bigger problems.”

They added that “Marijuana use has had significant impacts on school scores and drop-out rates, accident and vehicle fatality rates, employee productivity, healthcare and treatment costs. In fact, more young people are in treatment for marijuana use than any other drug. As for the popular myth that legalizing marijuana will cut crime, it’s just that—a myth. In fact, legalization will make those under the age of 21 even more of a target and a potential illegal market for drug gangs and street pushers. By legalizing and normalizing pot use, we can expect these problems to worsen.”

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Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org.

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8 Comments

  1. sirodComment by sirod
    December 12, 2012 @ 10:10 am

    I wonder what this open marijuana use will do for or against drug smuggling from Mexico and how much it will increase deaths caused by people under the influence of the drug?
    Our country is going to the dogs following the pied piper in the white house as he laughs and jokes along leading the useful idiots into destruction.
    Without moral limits we are doomed to destruction. This president does not have or set moral limits. Someday we will learn who he really is and many will be shocked by it.

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  2. tomtComment by tomt
    December 12, 2012 @ 11:08 am

    THC effects ones ability to be rational and realize consequences.
    This can be due to permanent alteration of the cerebral cortex as a result of prolonged abuse involving THC.

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    Rating: 3.7/5 (6 votes cast)
  3. freetochooseComment by freetochoose
    December 12, 2012 @ 11:36 am

    Kincaid, your big government command-and-control thinking has revealed itself with this article. Why do you want the UN to control us, in violation of our own Constitution? Your support of a Constitution-violating treaty shows you want the control for your social issues.

    Would you support a UN treaty controlling alcohol? Do you drink alcohol in your home, and would you want that right taken away?

    We tried alcohol prohibition and it failed. It was repealed. But it made the gangsters rich.

    Marijuana prohibition has failed. It has made the Mexican gangsters and smugglers rich, while putting thousands of people in prison for consensual non-violent violations of the law.

    If you were for small government, you would write an article applauding the states as the incubators of liberty, even if it doesn’t fit your personal moral values. Too bad you can’t look past your own morals, to help everyone be free. Even if only in the privacy of their own homes with consenting adults.

    By the way, I am a fiscally conservative registered Republican. I attend GOP meetings. And I am for limited Constitutional government. Unlike you, I don’t advocate for UN treaties that usurp our Constitution.

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  4. pebearComment by pebear
    December 12, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

    Drug policy is not just a Democrat base issue. We here in the Republican party have a large Libertarian wing, which I consider myself a part of, that feels it’s a waste of time and immoral to keep jailing our own citizens over the possession and use of cannabis. Marijuana laws were created out of racism and not public health as we have with heroin, morphine and cocaine. We as a party need to stop lying to ourselves about pot and to the rest of the United States in the world. Harry Anslinger’s United Nation’s treaty on drug control should be revised to allow countries to legalize the use and possession of Marijuana. The treaty is the source of immense human degradation and human rights violations globally. And where did the treaty come from ? The United States. There are bigger problems in this country than chasing Marijuana users around and putting them in jail. It’s time both Democrats and Republicans got brave and just legalized the stuff and be done with it. I know this is not a popular thing to say in a Republican forum and I am a Republican and I don’t give a rat’s rear end if you guys hate me for my opinion !

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  5. fabianComment by fabian
    December 12, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

    Let it be. Drugs are social Darwinism like alcohol, gambling and other fun stuffs. Those who abuse them fail. Those who don’t have fun. Spend our taxes for other things.

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  6. BillzillaComment by Billzilla
    December 12, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

    Most of the voters must have been stoned, smoking dope, when they re-elected the head dope, and his taxpayer funded, jet-setting wife and family!

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  7. malcolmkyleComment by malcolmkyle
    December 12, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

    Prohibition has cruelly ruined the lives of millions of peaceful and productive citizens while bankrolling the most evil people on the planet. Prohibition has stagnated the normal economy while allowing criminal enterprises to control an untaxed thriving underground economy worth over 300,000 million dollars. By it’s emphasis on the eradication of marijuana/hemp we have also been denied the most workable and logical solutions to a number of growing problems, be they medicinal, industrial, chemical, or commercial.

    According to the CATO Institute, ending prohibition would save an annual $41 billion of expenditure while generating an estimated $46 billion in tax revenues.

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/DrugProhibitionWP.pdf

    Thanks to Prohibition, we now have a far higher percentage of our own citizens locked in cages than any other nation on the whole planet. Apart from the fact that these extra prisoners are not contributing economically to society, it also costs 50,000 dollars per annum to incarcerate them. Additionally, their families often go on government assistance, leaving the average tax payer to pick up the bill. Their kids may also be taken into care, or raised by foster parents—again with our money. Now add to all this: the court costs, jail costs, and the salaries of all those people that have to deal with the enforcement of prohibition—like police officers, judges and public defenders—and you’ll start to get a fair idea of why “Black Thursday” (October 24, 1929) happened during the period of another of our great experiments: Alcohol Prohibition (1919-1933)

    * The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

    * 743 adults incarcerated per 100,000 population at year-end 2009.

    * 2,292,133 adults were incarcerated in federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 2009—approximately 1% of US adults.

    * Additionally, 4,933,667 adults at year-end 2009 were on probation or parole.

    * In 2009, 7,225,800 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, or incarcerated)—Approximately 3.1% of adults in the U.S. resident population.

    Chart Of The Day: Federal Drug Prisoners
    http://tinyurl.com/csfvb9n

    During alcohol prohibition, all profits went to enrich criminals and corrupt politicians. Young men died every day on inner-city streets while battling over turf. A fortune was wasted on enforcement that could have gone on education, etc. On top of the budget-busting prosecution and incarceration costs, billions in taxes were lost. Finally, the economy collapsed. Sound familiar?

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  8. boogieComment by boogie
    December 13, 2012 @ 6:28 am

    I am an expat. from the great State of Colorado; where they refused to buckle under to the fed. government in regards to a Fed law regarding the mandatory use of Helmets when riding a motor cycle. It cost the State Millions of dollars of federal funding to say Buckoff and we won’t force our citizens to wear a helmet if they chose not to.
    Now
    I will tell you the reason for the State to (allow) the citizens of Colorado to smoke Mar. and grow up to 6 plants legally. It is simple common sense. We have a Constitutional amendment that allows the citizens to vote on any initiative that is being proposed by anyone trying to change the State constitution. The Medical Mar. initiative was passed by a majority of the voters under this Democratic system. The People of Colorado are a mature and successful people and a majority of them smoke Mar. They would rather see their fellows Smoking a little mar. then taking psychotropic medication to feel better. It was an economic boom to the Bankrupted State when it passed and now the people want the rest of their fellows to stop being treated as criminals when it is their own bodies and their pursuit of happiness that is being violated by the Draconian drug law policies of the Fed. Gov. We also would rather keep the money in Colorado rather then send it to the Drug cartels in Mexico and other South American countries. It’s about a Society maturing and saying Buckoff to the Fed. Government.

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