In December, Obama signed a bill containing a provision that prevents the federal government from interfering with states' medical marijuana activities. Yet, two weeks later, Obama’s Department of Justice filed "a strenuous defense of the drug’s Schedule I classification — the same category reserved for heroin."
This isn’t an abstract issue relevant only to constitutional obsessives. It’s a basic principle of ordered liberty that arises from even deeper foundations than our founding document. When the laws are in such discord and conflict as our drug laws are now, the enforcement of the law becomes of necessity an exercise in executive whim—compounding the capriciousness of arbitrary, selective application that Obama has made so conspicuous in his approach to governance.
At a time when the legitimacy and uniformity of government coercion has come into deep question among urban blacks in addition to suburban whites, the president needs to realize that in dithering on marijuana law he is playing with fire. His haphazard and contradictory mismanagement of America’s shift toward pot reform lends dangerous credence to the growing sense that our government no longer cares to guarantee our equal protection under the law.
The federal spending measure passed this weekend, and one of the provisions in it "effectively ends the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana and signals a major shift in drug policy," reports the LA Times. The provision forbids federal drug agents from raiding retail operations.
I asked Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, if this was as big of a deal as it seems to be. He said, “It’s an historic vote in the annals of marijuana law reform. The disconnect between Congress and the vast majority of Americans regarding federal interference with state medical marijuana laws at last is over.”
When you consider that Nevada has fewer than 7,000 medical marijuana patients, it’s not a very large base. But when you factor in MMJ patients from other states who might take advantage of Nevada’s system — another 110,000 from Colorado, 570,000 from California and 100,000 from Washington — suddenly those numbers are looking a lot better.
Twenty-three-year-old Daniel Price wants to use his prescribed medicine in an Atlantic City casino. He takes medical marijuana to treat seizures and irritable bowel disease. The casino wont let him, and he has hired a lawyer to press the issue.
Northfield-based attorney Michelle Douglass is now representing Price in what she says could be a ground-breaking legal battle clarifying whether patients like Price must be accommodated by private businesses. “Our position is ... that they are required to provide people with disabilities an accommodation,” Douglass said. “It is legal. He is legally permitted to use medical marijuana.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon and CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, used to be an opponent of medical marijuana. Last year. after looking into the research, he changed his mind. Now he is "doubling down" on his position that marijuana is effective medicine.
Since our documentary "Weed" aired in August, I have continued to travel the world, investigating and asking tough questions about marijuana.
I have met with hundreds of patients, dozens of scientists and the curious majority who simply want a deeper understanding of this ancient plant. I have sat in labs and personally analyzed the molecules in marijuana that have such potential but are also a source of intense controversy. I have seen those molecules turned into medicine that has quelled epilepsy in a child and pain in a grown adult. I've seen it help a woman at the peak of her life to overcome the ravages of multiple sclerosis.
I am more convinced than ever that it is irresponsible to not provide the best care we can, care that often may involve marijuana.
I am not backing down on medical marijuana; I am doubling down.
"Our federal marijuana policy is increasingly out of step with both the values of American citizens and with state law," she writes. "The result is a system of justice that is schizophrenic and at times appalling."
After the elections, medical pot is now legal in 18 states and Washington, D.C., and pot is legal for adults to use for recreational use as well in Colorado and Washington State. But the federal government plans to continue its draconian enforcement approach, regardless of state voters' choices.
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Down in Smoke: through comics, Susie Cagle chronicles the DEA raids on medical marijuana facilities in California
At Cartoon Movement, "graphic journalist" Susie Cagle (Twitter) surveys the impact of recent DEA raids of medical marijuana centers, and legal attacks against Harborside and the like, in 'Down In Smoke'. The work includes sound clips, which is brilliant.
Oakland, California. Ground zero for a medical marijuana fight between states and the federal government that has only been heating up. Incorporating real audio from activists, Cagle portrays what "feels like class war" as local growers, patients and city officials fight against losing their jobs, medicine, and tax revenue.
The whole thing is here, and it's fantastic. Susie has done some of the best reporting I've seen of the Occupy movement and related protests in America—she's been jailed and injured for it. The fact that her reporting is focused through the medium of comics is just so innovative and cool. She takes true risks for her reporting, and what comes out of it is insightful, informative, and funny. I just love her work.
Despite Obama’s promises during the 2008 campaign, federal prosecutors have lost faith in the ability of state and local officials to control a booming commercial industry for a drug that is still illegal to grow, possess or sell under federal law. As a result, a once broad exemption from prosecution for medical marijuana providers in state where it’s legal has been narrowed to a tiny one.
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