The Arcata Eye Provides a Scary Look at Federal Views on Marijuana

Scott Burns, Dept. Director of National Drug Control Policy

Scott Burns, Dept. Director of National Drug Control Policy

Kevin Hoover of The Arcata Eye has been getting a lot of flack lately for his views on indoor grows and how to address the problems associated with the grows in his town but, whatever your individual viewpoint about his actions, his hard hitting interview with Scott Burns, deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, impresses with its clarity, intelligence and bulldogged insistence on important points. I reccommend getting a copy of The Eye to check out the Feds’ vision for Humboldt County and for an excellent closeup of the kind of hard hitting questions a journalist should ask.

For those of us in the Southern part of the area with limited access to The Eye the recorded interview appears at on the archives’ pageFriday, most recent.

Kevin starts out soft–and pro marijuana advocates might be inclined to dismiss the piece but increasingly, as the interview goes on, he insists on some answers to very pointed questions about the Federal government’s stand on legalizing marijuana and the part the government plays in causing criminal activity by criminalizing what many people consider medicine or, at most, a gentle intoxicant.

Because my little guy needed me, I missed the last few minutes of the interview. But you can bet at 11pm when my IP allows free download, I’ll be hitting the link above and visualizing a clear and ugly picture of how the current administration plans to handle this area in regards to marijuana growing.

Mendocino sheriff Tom Allman was right–if we don’t solve our community’s problems surrounding marijuana growing, we are going to end up with the feds “solving” it for us.

UPDATE:I don’t know if I missed it earlier or if it just went up but now there is a transcription of the interview on The Eye’s site.



  • The interview is posted on our website. I wanted KHSU to have a clean shot at the debut. And the audio is on their site, too.

    Thanks, Kym, for your kind characterization of the interview questions and approach. But I’ve been kicking myself for a week-and-a-half now over failing to think quickly enough in the heat of the moment to ask him one more.

    If I had a do-over, I’d ask this fairly long question:

    “You’ve said that federal law trumps all, but that ultimately this is a local problem. You’ve further said that Prop 215 and the dispensaries are a “con,” and a “joke, “but that Arcatans should “defer 100 percent good judgment of the people who have been elected and appointed.” [When he said that, he motioned to the City officials in the conference room.] And yet these elected and appointed leaders are trying to enact guidelines under which dispensaries can operate properly and Prop 215 patients can have safe access to their medicine. So how are we to reconcile these contradictory statements and instructions?”

    I’m sure he would have had an answer.

    There has been criticism that the City and I both chose to talk to this person. But I’m proud of our mayor and staff in that they smiled, shook Mr. Burns’ hand, looked him in the eye and told him that despite all the problems with the grow houses and dispensaries, Arcata will not back down on Prop 215.

    Kevin Hoover

  • Kevin, thank you for that pointer. I went back and read the rest of the interview. Excellent!

    I enjoyed Mr. Burns’ answers although I think they were scary. They were clear and to the point except where he says he is “A little bit” of a Constitutional law teacher. That made me chuckle is this a like being a little pregnant?

    Still it is hard to chuckle when I’m reading that the actions of the federal government will “include sending official notices to the dispensaries that you are in violation of federal law to the owners. That they’re subject to losing their property, which I predict will happen soon. “

  • Also troubling: comparing the relief medical cannabis provides to use of crack.

    Again, had I thought quickly enough, I could have extended his attempt to conflate MMJ and crack to other legitimate medical procedures. For example, “If anesthetics take away pain after an operation, so why not just smoke crack?”

    I had a good chat with Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project yesterday. he’s blogged about the Burns interview:

    And it looks like I’m going to be on a NORML podcast next week.

  • Burns seems a bit lacking in compassion when he says, “This is not about making people feel better” in reference to marijuana use by cancer patients. He came across as a true believer and an honest man if misguided man (albeit Mirken feels differently) but hBurn’s views are pretty black and white. There doesn’t seem to be any room for human empathy.

    Congratulations, I’m looking forward to hearing the podcast.

  • “If anesthetics take away pain after an operation, so why not just smoke crack?”

    I probably could have phrased that better…

  • Actually, the Feds have been sending landlords notices that their property is at risk for some time in the cities. It has worked quite well in many situations and landlords have evicted dispensaries, mostly in larger cities. Now it’s our turn.

  • the crack comment definitely stood out the most to me:

    Burns: I’m saying that maybe that, the… Anybody can say something makes me feel better anecdotally. And I hear that a lot. “Marijuana is the only thing that makes me feel good.” I say you should try crack, because from what I hear, crack cocaine will make you feel really good as well. This is not about making people feel better, it’s about as a country and the effects it will have on all of us, all 305 million of us.

    Spoken like a federalist if you ask me.

  • God help us. Vote for Democrats.

  • It’s always interesting to see what others think are the takeaways from any given story, and this one is no exception.

    Here’s Salon’s take on the interview:

  • I’m glad to see your interview getting the attention it deserves. I think Humboldt County is at the beginning of a severe crackdown on marijuana. Growers will need to be rethinking their relaxed attitudes.

  • Well I hope we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. If people would be intelligent about all this rather than full-tilt boogie greed-driven, we could have our colorful cannabis traditions without diesel in the creeks and armed grow houses next to elementary schools.

    Leoni Nicol, wherever you are – we’ve lost our way, come back and save us!

  • I feel that attitudes towards use of mariuana have contributed to people ultimately feeling like a criminal because of the sneak, sneak don’t-tell lies we have been forked-gagged with. Yet even though smoking pot can be illegal the cops I have dealt with basic told me pot is not that bad, just be careful of “harder” drugs. This pissed me off because they would take my pot (1-time), take my sweet little smoking implements (2-time), AND–horrific to a domestic person (3-time ) would take my tupperware. Now that tupperware was pretty serious because in the early 70s you could not easily buy good plasticwear. To get the superb tupperware you had to sit with other plastic devotees and drink sour lemonade and eat cupcakes. Before you could order the beloved product you had to endure some humility like playing twister or some word game about taking a slow boat to china–you know, avocado, bacon bits, crayons ad nauseam. But I did not like anything taken from me because I am not supposed to take from them. I have not enjoyed being classified by what I smoke and ignored for other contributions towards life in general (now, not then). I had to sneak, carry stinky backpacks and feel terrified. I had to spray the air, put perfume on, brush my teeth to avoid detection. I had to hide from my mother, when I was an adult, because I needed to relax. We had to make up code words, make gestures, live in fear, and lie. Because something that helps has been conveniently, sometimes, overlooked but volcanized at other times we have felt inconsistent and useless. You threw us in prison and I tell you what–I lived among the most troubled women in California and they can have severe lack of self-control because of chemical and hormonal balances and let these hell on wheels women relax–believe me they are much nicer medicated.
    I do not want my adult children and grandchild to have to be devious because we are all nervous wrecks and benefit from going from 78 to 33. I do not want to have to enter a court system where I have to pay someone to beat you up legally and wait until I am dead to get satisfaction. I do not want to send these youngsters to fight for freedom when we incarcerate people at an astronomical rate–how can we act like a shining headband for democracy when leaders, if left unchecked, will get into our homes and go through our sugar and flour. Don’t tread on me–well you have been doing it to mariuana enjoyers for years and is our society any better?

  • “I think Humboldt County is at the beginning of a severe crackdown on marijuana. ”

    Hopefully, it’ll be over sometime soon after January 20th, 2009.

    “If people would be intelligent about all this rather than full-tilt boogie greed-driven,”

    That’s the American paradigm: it’s a top-down problem, and influences most niches in culture.

  • There is an interesting sad story on abc news 20/20 website
    about Rachel Hoffman a young girls that was forced to go undercover because of selling several ounces of marijuana. I
    googled it. I’m not advanced enough to tell you how to get there.

  • Here is the link, Janice.

  • Very, very sad. The cops sent her to deal with people she didn’t know, to buy crack, ecstasy and a gun; the sellers changed the meet spot at the last minute, and the cops fumbled the tail.

    ‘The Tragic Case of Rachel Hoffman’
    “In a family statement released to the media, she was described as a recent college graduate from Florida State University who planned to attend culinary school and lived her life by the words of the Beatles’ song “All You Need Is Love.””

    ‘Grand Jury To Probe Controversial Death of Police Informant’

    ‘Fla. Cops Under Fire After Informant’s Murder’

    ‘Who was Rachel Hoffman?’

    ‘Friends provide a glimpse into Rachel Hoffman’s final night’

    Here’s how to insert a live link:
    and insert your own text here

  • Here is a link to HTML codes (how to insert urls behind text.) The link you provided didn’t work, Olm, but the other ones are great, thank you.

  • You’re welcome; sorry for flubbing the html lesson.

    There’s a piece in today’s SF Chronicle on another very sad story, the murder of Michelle Dickson from Del Norte Co.

    Haunting: Rachel Hoffman and Michelle Dickson were so similar looking, they could’ve been mistaken for blood sisters.

  • Thanks guys. I just thought I needed to mention her name.

  • I would like to bring up another point. I am a veteran and I have received my second prescription of Marinol–sent to me via Fed Ex in a refrigerated package. I heard it is very expensive and it has a strange texture for a pill-all gushy and brown with a rough texture. In the instructions it makes clear the medicine comes from the marijuana plant and it is a form of THC. The Feds head the Veterans Administration and for something that supposedly has no medical value I have been prescribed it. What gives with this? (The pill gives a relaxing feeling and does help my appetite and sleep.)

  • Just recently the the MS Society touted marijuana as a help with MS symptoms and, of course, the second largest physician association supports its use as a medicine also. It has become fairly mainstream for medicinal purposes but still Scott Burns equates it with crack.

  • can i just die without having to explain a 215 from the state and a prescription of marinol from the feds to anyone? Am I getting the best or the worst of two worlds?

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