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City Paper Editor: Pointing out Weed is Illegal makes you a Racist

The folks at the City Paper have an obsession with marijuana. Every year around April 20th, they put out a “Weed issue” that’s specifically about using marijuana. Every week they do “sophisticated” reviews of new strains of marijuana. You would think that this is something that a reputable newspaper wouldn’t actually do, given the fact that marijuana is an illegal drug. And boy, do they hate it when you call them out on that.

Blogs editor Brandon Weigel made an adorable argument to this, arguing that it’s all good because weed is a “decriminalized” substance:

Mind you that marijuana is decriminalized under state law. It is still a very serious crime under federal law. The Controlled Substances Acts classifies marijuana as a Class I narcotic. 2005’s Gonzales vs Raich decision stated that federal law enforcement can still prosecute those found to be growing marijuana under the Interstate Commerce Clause even when allowed under state law. 21 U.S. Code Part D has an extensive list of penalties for those found in possession of or distributing controlled substances, including marijuana. Whether then folks at the City Paper like it or not, they are promoting the use of illegal substances and the writers who do these reviews are admitting to the commission of federal crimes under the Controlled Substances Act. You may like that, or you may not like that. But the federal preemption based on Article VI, Clause 2 of the Constitution, better known as the Supremacy Clause, is at play here. State level decriminalization does not exempt you from federal laws.

And then Baynard Woods gets involved. You may remember Baynard Woods from February when he was defending the mob the descended upon State Senator Bill Ferguson’s house. Well, in response to all of this, Woods said…..this

You should go back and read his comment again to appreciate the absurdity of it all.

Woods argument seems to be……well, I’m really not sure what Woods argument is. Woods glosses over the fact that federal preemption is the ruling legal doctrine here and just goes straight to wild accusations with no basis in reality. Maybe Woods, an admitted drug user who has also used acid, is having a bad flashback.

Woods then linked to an NAACP criminal justice fact sheet in support of his argument that marijuana laws are racist. Except the sheet he submits as evidence doesn’t reference marijuana and the issue that he really seems to have is prosecutorial discretion when it comes to prosecuting whites versus non-whites. None of that changes the fact that marijuana is illegal under federal law.

The position Woods takes is actually a little more sinister than that, however. Woods uses his position as a writer to promote the use of marijuana and other illegal drugs. He then points out that he believes drug laws are racist. So as a white man he is promoting the use of illicit substances to people of all colors when he is, according to his own logic, less likely to be prosecuted and spend time in jail for engaging in said activities. Does that make Woods promotion of illegal marijuana use racist? It is, at the very least, the soft bigotry that we have seen in Baltimore City before.

As Greg wrote in 2016:

The simple, undeniable reality is that the legalization of drugs will have harmful effects on society and a discussion that fails to acknowledge this is folly.

Marijuana is a harmful drug. The science tells us this. But if we wanted to legalize marijuana, there are perfectly valid policy discussions to be had on that. But none of the policy discussions mean anything until such a time as Congress passes a law making marijuana legal. The rest of this is all just window dressing because while states can decriminalize marijuana, they can make marijuana legal, they can create medical marijuana advisory boards, the fact of the matter is that marijuana possession is still illegal under federal law. No amount of throwing around the word “decriminalization” is going to change that. That the “Weed Editors”  of a widely-distributed, corporately owned publication seem to think that decriminalization is a magic bullet and that federal drug laws no longer apply shows a stunning lack of ignorance and naïveté on a subject these editors are supposed to be “experts” in. Maybe pretending to be ignorant of federal law helps them soothe their conscience, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are both committing and encouraging others to commit drug crimes.

That the City Paper and its editors would promote the use of marijuana and to encourage its readers to commit a crime under the Controlled Substances Act is shameful. And that City Paper leadership would allow Baynard Woods to be any sort of editor with his continued use of illicit drugs, his hair-trigger temper, and lack of understanding of basic drug laws and federalism says a lot about the journalistic standards of the paper.






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