By Fred Gardner. California voters legalized marijuana for medical use on November 5, 1996. Bill Clinton was re-elected as President that same day. California’s Republican attorney general, who had led the opposition to Prop 215, flew to Washington, DC, and urged federal officials to prevent the new law from being implemented. Clinton didn’t authorize an armed crackdown, but he did set in motion a civil suit to close down Dennis Peron’s San Francisco Cannabis Buyer’s Club, Jeff Jones’s Oakland CBC, and four other Bay Area dispensaries. It was a classic example of liberal “triangulation.”
If Clinton had said “The people of California have sent a message, they’re going to allow the medical use of marijuana. My administration will be watching very closely and will shut down this experiment if there is an adverse impact on public health and safety…” When no adverse impact ensued, the Dems could have taken credit for letting medical marijuana happen. I doubt Al Gore would have lost in 2000 if the Dems had been seen as sensible re pot.
When it came to light that the President had been doing something sexual with an intern named Monica Lewinsky, the fiercest Drug Warriors in Congress led the drive for impeachment. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia had effectively denied the people of Washington, DC, the right to legalize the herb for medical use in 1998 when he introduced a measure denying official recognition of the 69-31 pro MMJ vote in the District. Bill McCollum of Florida was pushing development of chemical poisons that would eradicate cannabis and coca from the face of the earth. Hillary’s reference to “a vast rightwing conspiracy” was accurate.
It’s worth noting how many of the men hounding Bill Clinton would be exposed as kinksters themselves: Livingston, Dennis Hastert, Bill Bennett, Kenneth Starr… Kinksters Unanimous!
In August, 1998, with Washingtonians about to vote on Initiative 59, which would have legalized the medical use of marijuana, Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia introduced an amendment to the 1999 D.C. budget to prohibit the certification of the election results. “None of the funds contained in this act may be used to conduct any ballot initiative which seeks to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substance Act, or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.” Sic, sick, sic.
The ACLU challenged the Barr amendment in federal court, and The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics joined the suit as a plaintiff, arguing that Congress would be violating the first amendment rights of D.C. residents.The Clinton Justice Department asked US District Judge Richard Roberts to dismiss the ACLU suit. When it went to a hearing, DOJ argued that Congress has the legal authority to not certify legislation in D.C. But in typical “I didn’t inhale” fashion, they raised no objection to the vote count being released!
“That’s basically turning an election into a public opinion poll,” observed Wayne Turner, the AIDS activist who organized the Initiative 59 campaign. “This is about the right of the people of the District of Columbia to have their votes counted and to have them count. This is about democracy held hostage.” The voided vote was a first in U.S. history.
At the time Rep. Bob Barr was among the moralistic hypocrities clamoring for Bill Clinton’s impeachment. But the two were united in the effort to deny Washingtonians’ access to medical marijuana.
After Barr left Congress, Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project hired him as a lobbyist at $10,000/month.