Feds Should Stop Fighting Medical Marijuana

Jul 15, 2013

To all appear­ances, Con­necti­cut is well on the way to mak­ing med­ical mar­i­juana avail­able to peo­ple who are suf­fer­ing from cer­tain seri­ous ill­nesses. Reg­u­la­tions have been drafted and will be voted on by a leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee next month. Physi­cians have thus far cer­ti­fied 660 patients as eli­gi­ble for the pal­lia­tive sub­stance. Pro­pos­als for pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties have sur­faced in Water­town and Mid­dle­town, with oth­ers on the way. But there remains one nag­ging, unre­solved issue: It is still a fed­eral crime to use, cul­ti­vate, dis­pense or pos­sess mar­i­juana. Indeed, since 2009 the Jus­tice Depart­ment has con­ducted more than 170 aggres­sive raids in inie med­ical mar­i­juana states, accord­ing to the advo­cacy group Amer­i­cans for Safe Access. Con­necti­cut offi­cials think they have crafted a strict, tightly reg­u­lated law that will not draw the atten­tion of fed­eral author­i­ties. We hope they are right. The bet­ter option is to end the dis­con­nect between state and fed­eral laws, so peo­ple with can­cer, Parkinson’s dis­ease, mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis and other ail­ments can, if they choose, use mar­i­juana to gain some mea­sure of relief. Obama In 2008 can­di­date Barack Obama said that med­ical mar­i­juana would not be a pri­or­ity tar­get of Jus­tice Depart­ment resources. Well, not so fast. The department’s pol­icy on the sub­ject was out­lined in a cou­ple of memos, most recently the 2011 “Cole Memo,” from Deputy U.S. Attor­ney Gen­eral James M. Cole to U.S. attor­neys around the coun­try. Mr. Cole said it is “likely not an effi­cient use of fed­eral resources” to focus enforce­ment on sick peo­ple or their care­givers, but reminded the fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors that per­sons “who are in the busi­ness of cul­ti­vat­ing, sell­ing or dis­trib­ut­ing mar­i­juana, and those who know­ingly facil­i­tate such activ­i­ties, are in vio­la­tion of the Con­trolled Sub­stances Act, regard­less of state law … such per­sons are sub­ject to fed­eral enforce­ment action, includ­ing poten­tial pros­e­cu­tion.” The plain mean­ing is that fed­eral law enforce­ment offi­cers can — and in an increas­ing num­ber of cases have — gone after med­ical mar­i­juana grow­ers. Scale Jus­tice Depart­ment spokes­woman Alli­son Price said via email last week that the department’s focus is “on mak­ing sure that peo­ple aren’t using the pre­text of med­ical mar­i­juana to do large-scale inter­state drug deal­ing.” She sug­gests the feds are look­ing at larger oper­a­tions that aren’t well mon­i­tored. This should work in Connecticut’s favor. The state’s statute, passed last year, envi­sions a small, tightly con­trolled sys­tem. There will be no more than 10 secure pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties (Col­orado has more than 1,000 farms), and a lim­ited but as yet unde­ter­mined num­ber of dis­pen­saries, each run by a licensed phar­ma­cist. Mar­i­juana will be treated like other con­trolled phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. “Con­necti­cut has done every­thing it can to insu­late itself from fed­eral inter­ven­tion,” said Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner William M. Ruben­stein, whose depart­ment admin­is­ters the pro­gram. He said in draft­ing the reg­u­la­tions, his peo­ple stud­ied the expe­ri­ence in some (lightly reg­u­lated) West­ern states, and opted for a closely con­trolled sys­tem that would pre­vent theft and diver­sion and focus on sick peo­ple. But for the fed­eral law, major phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, who know how to make safe drugs at com­pet­i­tive prices, might be in the game. How­ever … In the vast and com­plex world of law there are many sit­u­a­tions where state and fed­eral laws dis­agree. The state and fed­eral min­i­mum wages are dif­fer­ent, for exam­ple. We can live with most of these dis­crep­an­cies, but not the dis­con­nect on med­ical mar­i­juana; it causes too many prob­lems. For exam­ple, the Col­orado Court of Appeals in April upheld the fir­ing of a quad­ri­plegic man, Bran­don Coates, for off-the-job medical-marijuana use, con­clud­ing that, because mar­i­juana is ille­gal under fed­eral law, employ­ees have no pro­tec­tion to use it. Mr. Coates uses mar­i­juana to con­trol mus­cle spasms. At present, 19 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia have cho­sen to help peo­ple such as Mr. Coates. We urge Con­gress and the pres­i­dent to let them, by pass­ing a law like Connecticut’s. Source: Hart­ford Courant (CT) Pub­lished: July 15, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 The Hart­ford Courant Con­tact: letters@​courant.​com Web­site: http://​www​.courant​.com/

4139edb7c4York 3.jpg 150x88 Feds Should Stop Fighting Medical Marijuana

Read the orig­i­nal here:
Feds Should Stop Fight­ing Med­ical Marijuana

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