Marijuana Policy

RSS Feed for this category

Medical Marijuana Debate: Should the sick be able to smoke?

The Donald & Paula Smith Family Foundation Presents a debate: Medical Marijuana: Should the sick be able to smoke? Featuring: Bob Barr Former Congressman 21st Century Liberties Chair for Freedom and Privacy at the American Conservative Union V. Ethan Nadelmann Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance Moderator: James E. Fleming Professor at Fordham Law, author of Securing Constitutional Democracy Co-Sponsors: Fordham Law Federalist Society & American Constitution Society Eleven states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. This has been largely accomplished by voter initiative but the issue is getting politicians’ attention. In Gonzales v. Raich the Supreme Court majority sided against California and medical marijuana but said “these respondents may one day be heard in the halls of Congress.” The new Democratic majority may be more receptive to their calls. What is the medicinal efficacy of marijuana? Was Raich the last gasp of the Rehnquist Court’s “federalism revolution?” What is the connection between this and broader drug legalization? What has been the experience in these eleven legalized states? (Free and open to the public - Reception to follow) RSVP here http://thesmithfamilyfoundation.org/register.cfm
Date: 
Thu, 01/18/2007 - 6:30pm - 9:00pm
Location: 
140 W 62nd Street, McNally Hall
New York, NY
United States

Hemp grows with technological advances

Location: 
Canada
Publication/Source: 
Business Edge (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.businessedge.ca/article.cfm/newsID/14336.cfm

9th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert

On Saturday, January 20, 2007 Ploppy Palace Productions and Tobacco Road will be hosting the 9th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert to raise funds for FL NORML’s (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) medical marijuana campaign and the protection of patients’ rights. As part of this four stage extravaganza, some of South Florida's top bands, spoken word artists and community activists will join together for patients’ and physicians’ right to use medical cannabis. As a testament to the diversity of supporters for this cause, there will be a broad variety of musical styles including rock, reggae, folk, hip-hop, funk, experimental, tribal rhythms, world beat fusion, Hatian, Traditional Peruvian, psychedelic grooves and various interactive jams. Johnny Dread, Sweetbone, Jahfe, Kuyayky, Aurapool, Out Of The Anonymous, Addax, Day Music Died, Under No Order, Carl Ferrari & Friends, The Tribe, Val C. Wisecracker, Robby Hunter, Mike Matthews, Charissa Johnson, Andrew Vait, ZP Tepi, January, Jon Ryczek, Outereach, Brimstone127, Anodize and more will be showcasing original music. Alonso, Kristie Soares and other spoken word artists will be presenting innovative spoken word poetry with musical accompaniment. Mark A.S. will be presenting social satire about the laws concerning medical marijuana and the drug war. In addition, the TranZenDance Dance Company, Shri-Shambhala Tribe and other dancers will be performing a variety of dance and movement pieces to energetic, rhythmic percussion and ambient tones. Plus Carlos Rodriguez and Anibal Fernandez will be rendering a live painting demonstration to visually complement the music. As an extra feature, Lumonics Light Museum will be presenting a special video projection showcase. Irvin Rosenfeld and Elvy Musikka, legal medical marijuana patients, will be describing their experiences with obtaining his medicine through the federal government. The 9th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert will also feature a selection of community speakers who will present information about the issues including Toni Latino from Florida NORML. FL NORML, Emerge Miami, Miami-Dade Green Party, the Improvised Action Collective and various other organizations will have informational booths with literature and handouts to help educate about community issues and the medical marijuana campaign in Florida. The event will work to raise funds and awareness for FL NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) medical marijuana campaign and the protection of patients’ rights. Previously, a person's right to use medical necessity as a defense to marijuana charges has been upheld by several appeals courts in Florida. Marijuana has proven therapeutically useful in treating numerous medical conditions including muscle spasticity, arthritis, and the nausea related to AIDS and cancer chemotherapy. Currently there are 10 states that have laws allowing marijuana to be used as medicine. In addition there will be vendors and small businesses promoting and selling their merchandise, including The Wallflower Gallery and selected independent corporations Production support provided by Ploppy Palace Productions, Beach Sound, Anamaze Productions, Atlas Sound and 7th Circuit Productions. The 9th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert at Tobacco Road is currently looking for supportive sponsors and unique vendors to help to build up the community outreach and contribute to the cause. The 9th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert at Tobacco Road is sponsored by Ploppy Palace Productions, Beach Sound, OnlineGigs.com, 7th Circuit Productions and FL NORML. 21 Years Old + with ID Admission is $ 10. www.myspace.com/medmj For more information, please email Ploppy Palace Productions at [email protected].
Date: 
Sat, 01/20/2007 - 4:00pm - Sun, 01/21/2007 - 3:00am
Location: 
626 South Miami Ave.
Brickell, FL
United States

Feature: Marijuana is America's Number One Cash Crop, Study Finds

A study released Monday finds that marijuana is now the nation's biggest cash crop, with the value of the annual harvest exceeding that of corn, soybeans or hay -- the country's top three legal cash crops. The study, conducted by public policy analyst and former National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws head Jon Gettman, used official government figures to arrive at an estimate that the annual pot crop is worth $35 billion.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/indoormarijuanagrow.jpg
indoor marijuana grow
According to the report, Marijuana Production in the United States (2006), US domestic marijuana production has increased 10-fold in the past quarter-century. This despite ever more intensive eradication programs at the state and federal levels that have seen more than 100 million pot plants seized and destroyed since the early 1980s.

Between 1981 and 2006, US marijuana production increased ten-fold, from 1,000 metric tons (2.2 million pounds) to 10,000 metric tons (22 million pounds), according to government figures cited by Gettman. The massive expansion of pot production in the face of increased eradication efforts suggests that "marijuana has become a pervasive and ineradicable part of our national economy" that should be put under a system of legal regulation, Gettman wrote.

And it is everywhere. While California, Tennessee, Kentucky, Hawaii, and Washington are the top producing states, pot is the top cash crop in 12 states and among the top three in 30 states. "There is a lot of demand for marijuana in the US, and it's only natural that production would increase here," Gettman told Drug War Chronicle.

But the increase is also a function of government enforcement efforts, Gettman argued. "In response to the government spraying Mexican marijuana with paraquat in the 1970s, people began to grow in California and Hawaii. Then the government starting flying helicopters and airplanes around looking for marijuana from the sky, so cultivation spread out," he explained. "By 1982, it was in 32 states. Now, it's in all 50 states. Growers also moved to smaller plots and to maximize production with the use of fertilizers, better genetic stock, and the production of sinsemilla, and they moved inside. Everything the government has done to stop marijuana production has caused growers to respond, and now we are at a point where we have diffused cultivation and small-scale production all over the country," the analyst argued.

"This report tells us our marijuana policy is not working very well, and that's an understatement," Gettman summarized. "These are the government's numbers, not mine, and they show there is absolutely no evidence their program is successful in any way, shape, or form."

"The fact that marijuana is America's number one cash crop after more than three decades of governmental eradication efforts is the clearest illustration that our present marijuana laws are a complete failure," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which spearheaded the media outreach following the report's publication. "America's marijuana crop is worth more than our nation's annual production of corn and wheat combined. And our nation's laws guarantee that 100% of the proceeds from marijuana sales go to unregulated criminals rather than to legitimate businesses that pay taxes to support schools, police and roads."

While Gettman did not estimate possible tax revenues from the regulated sale of marijuana, he suggested they would be substantial. "Legal production would bring down the prices, but the fact that people are buying marijuana at black market prices demonstrates that people value marijuana and will pay for it," said Gettman. "Marijuana can be heavily taxed and still provide lower prices than now while providing revenues to the government," he argued.

In California, the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) seized nearly 1.7 million plants this year, but based on seizure rates over the last three years, Gettman puts California's pot production at 21 million plants, worth about $13 billion and responsible for a whopping 38% of total US production.

The country should focus on regulating the lucrative trade instead of vainly trying to suppress it, Gettman concluded. "Like all profitable agricultural crops marijuana adds resources and value to the economy," he writes in the report. "The focus for public policy should be how to effectively control this market through regulation and taxation in order to achieve immediate and realistic goals, such as reducing teenage access."

Neither CAMP nor the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) returned Chronicle calls for comment on the study, but ONDCP's Tom Riley told the Los Angeles Times that while he wouldn’t argue Gettman's numbers, he disagreed with his conclusions. "Coca is Colombia's largest cash crop and that hasn't worked out for them, and opium poppies are Afghanistan's largest crop, and that has worked out disastrously for them," Riley said. "I don't know why we would venture down that road."

It Was the Worst of Times: Drug Reform Defeats, Downers, and Disappointments in 2006

As Drug War Chronicle publishes its last issue of the year -- we will be on vacation next week -- it is time to look back at 2006. In a companion piece, we looked at the highlights for drug reform this year; here, we look at the lowlights, from failures at the polls to bad court rulings to negative trends. Below -- in no particular order -- is our necessarily somewhat arbitrary list of the ten most significant defeats and disappointments for the cause of drug law reform. (We also publish a "best of 2006" list in this issue, above.)

The drug war continues unabated on the streets of America. Despite two decades of drug reform efforts, the war on drugs continues to make America a country that eats its young. In May, we reported that the US prisoner count topped 2.1 million -- a new high -- and included more than 500,000 drug war prisoners. In September, the FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Report, showing nearly 800,000 marijuana arrests and 1.8 million drug arrests in 2005 -- another new high. And just two weeks ago, we reported that more than seven million people are in jail or prison or on probation or parole -- yet another new high.

Methamphetamine hysteria continues unabated and becomes an excuse for old-school, repressive drug laws and bad, newfangled ones, too. The drug war always needs a demon drug du jour to scare the public, and this year, like the past few years, meth is it. Never mind that the stuff has been around for decades and that there is less to the "meth epidemic" than meets the eye. The "dangers of meth" have been cited as a reason for everything from targeting South Asian convenience store clerks to restricting access to cold medications containing pseudoephedrine to harsh new penalties for meth offenses to more than 20 states defining meth use or production as child abuse. Michigan even went so far as to pass legislation banning meth recipes on the Internet, while Arizona voters felt impelled to roll back a decade-old sentencing reform. Under that reform, first- and second-time drug possession offenders couldn't be sentenced to jail or prison, but now Arizona has created an exception for meth offenders. The drug warriors like to say meth is the new crack, and in the way meth is used as an excuse for "tough" approaches to drug policy, that is certainly true.

The US Supreme Court upholds unannounced police searches. In a June decision, the court upheld a Michigan drug raid where police called out their presence at the door, but then immediately rushed in before the homeowner could respond. Previously, the courts had allowed such surprise entries only in the case of "no-knock" warrants, but this ruling, which goes against hundreds of years of common law and precedent, effectively eviscerates that distinction. "No-knock" raids are dangerous, as we reported that same month, and as Atlanta senior citizen Kathryn Johnston would tell you if she could. But she can't -- Johnston was killed in a "no-knock" raid last month.

Marijuana legalization initiatives lose in Colorado and Nevada. After four years of effort, the Marijuana Policy Project still couldn't get over the top with its "tax and regulate" initiative in Nevada, although it increased its share of the vote from 39% to 44%. In Colorado, SAFER Colorado took its "marijuana is safer than alcohol" message statewide after successes at state universities and in Denver last year, but failed to convince voters, winning only 41% of the vote.

South Dakota becomes the first state where voters defeat an initiative to legalize medical marijuana. In every state where it had gone to the voters as a ballot measure, medical marijuana had emerged victorious. But voters in the socially conservative, lightly populated Upper Midwest state narrowly rejected it in November. The measure lost 48% to 52%.

California's medical marijuana movement is under sustained attack by the feds and recalcitrant state and local officials and law enforcement. This year, it seems like barely a week goes by without a new raid by the DEA or unreconstructed drug warriors in one county or another. San Diego has been particularly hard-hit, but we also reported on a spate of raids in October, and there have been more since. The feds have also started their first medical marijuana prosecution since the 2003 Ed Rosenthal fiasco, with Merced County medical marijuana patient and provider Dustin Costa going on trial last month.

Hundreds die from overdoses of heroin cut with fentanyl, but the official response is almost nonexistent -- except for increased law enforcement pressure. With injection drug users falling over dead from Boston to Baltimore, Philadelphia to Detroit and Chicago, an estimated 700 people have been killed by the deadly cocktail. We reported on it in June, but the wave of deaths continues to the present. Just last week, more than 120 medical experts, public health departments, and drug user advocates sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt urging him to take aggressive action. Ho-hum, who cares about dead junkies? Not the federal government, at least so far.

Plan Colombia continues to roll along, adding fuel to the flames of Colombia's civil war while achieving little in the realm of actually reducing the supply of cocaine. The US Congress continues to fund Plan Colombia to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year, even though despite six years of military assistance and widespread aerial eradication using herbicides, it now appears that production is higher than anyone ever thought. Perhaps a Democratic Congress will put an end to this fiasco next year, but Democrats certainly can count influential Plan Colombia supporters among their ranks -- incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman and presidential hopeful Joe Biden (DE), to name just one.

Afghanistan is well on its way to becoming a true narco-state. The US war on terror and the US war on drugs are on a collision course in Afghanistan, which now, five years after the US invaded, produces more than 90% of the world's illicit opium. This year, Afghanistan's opium crop hit a new record high of 6,100 metric tons, and now, US drug czar John Walters is pressuring the Afghans to embrace eradication with herbicides. But each move the US and the Afghans make to suppress the opium trade just drives more Afghans into the waiting arms of the Taliban, which is also making enough money off the trade to finance its reborn insurgency. Meanwhile, the Afghan government is also full of people getting rich off opium. Everyone is ignoring the sensible proposals that have put on the table for dealing with the problem, which range from an economic development and anti-corruption approach put forward by the UN and World Bank as an alternative to eradication, and the Senlis Council proposal to license production and divert it to the legitimate medicinal market.

Australia is in the grips of Reefer Madness. While some Australian states enacted reforms to soften their marijuana laws in years past, the government of Prime Minister John Howard would like to roll back those reforms. The Australians seem particularly susceptible to hysterical pronouncements about the links between marijuana and mental illness, and they also hold the unfathomable notion that marijuana grown hydroponically is somehow more dangerous than marijuana grown in soil. Over the weekend, the national health secretary announced he wants to ban bongs. That's not so surprising coming from a man who in May announced that marijuana is more dangerous than heroin. Hopefully, saner heads will prevail Down Under, but it isn't happening just yet.

It Was the Best of Times: Drug Reform Victories and Advances in 2006

As Drug War Chronicle publishes its last issue of the year -- we will be on vacation next week -- it is time to look back at 2006. Both here at home and abroad, the year saw significant progress on various fronts, from marijuana law reform to harm reduction advances to the rollback of repressive drug laws in Europe and Latin America. Below -- in no particular order -- is our necessarily somewhat arbitrary list of the ten most significant victories and advances for the cause of drug law reform. (We also publish a top ten most significant defeats for drug law reform in 2006 below.)

Marijuana possession stays legal in Alaska. A 1975 Alaska Supreme Court case gave Alaskans the right to possess up to a quarter-pound of marijuana in the privacy of their homes, but in 1991, voters recriminalized possession. A series of court cases this decade reestablished the right to possess marijuana, provoking Gov. Frank Murkowski to spend two years in an ultimately successful battle to get the legislature to re-recriminalize it. But in July, an Alaska Superior Court threw out the new law's provision banning pot possession at home. The court did reduce the amount to one ounce, and the state Supreme Court has yet to weigh in, but given its past rulings, there is little reason to think it will reverse itself.

Local initiatives making marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority win across the board. In the November elections, lowest priority initiatives swept to victory in Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Santa Monica, California, as well as Missoula County, Montana, and Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Earlier this year, West Hollywood adopted a similar ordinance, and last month, San Francisco did the same thing. Look for more initiatives like these next year and in 2008.

Rhode Island becomes the 11th state to approve medical marijuana and the third to do so via the legislative process. In January, legislators overrode a veto by Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) to make the bill law. The bill had passed both houses in 2005, only to be vetoed by Carcieri. The state Senate voted to override in June of 2005, but the House did not act until January.

The Higher Education Act (HEA) drug provision is partially rolled back. In the face of rising opposition to the provision, which bars students with drug convictions -- no matter how trivial -- from receiving federal financial assistance for specified periods, its author, leading congressional drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder, staged a tactical retreat. To blunt the movement for full repeal, led by the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform, Souder amended his own provision so that it now applies only to students who are enrolled and receiving federal financial aid at the time they commit their offenses. Passage of the amended drug provision in February marks one of the only major rollbacks of drug war legislation in years.

New Jersey passes a needle exchange bill. After a 13-year struggle and a rising toll from injection-related HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C infections, the New Jersey legislature last week passed legislation that would establish pilot needle exchange programs in up to six municipalities. Gov. Jon Corzine (D) signed it into law this week. With Delaware and Massachusetts also passing needle access bills this year, every state in the union now either has at least some needle exchange programs operating or allows injection drug users to obtain clean needles without a prescription.

The US Supreme Court upholds the right of American adherents of the Brazil-based church the Union of the Vegetable (UDV) to use a psychedelic tea (ayahuasca) containing a controlled substance in religious ceremonies. Using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a unanimous court held that the government must show a "compelling government interest" in restricting religious freedom and use "the least restrictive means" of furthering that interest. The February ruling may pave the way for marijuana spiritualists to seek similar redress.

The Vancouver safe injection site, Insite wins a new, if limited, lease on life. The pilot project site, the only one of its kind in North America, was up for renewal after its initial three-year run, and the Conservative government of Prime Minister Steven Harper was ideologically opposed to continuing it, but thanks to a well-orchestrated campaign to show community and global support, the Harper government granted a one-year extension of the program. Some observers have suggested the limited extension should make the "worst of" list instead of the "best of," but keeping the site long enough to survive the demise of the Conservative government (probably this year) has to rank as a victory. So does the publication of research results demonstrating that the site saves lives, reduces overdoses and illness, and gets people into treatment without leading to increased crime or drug use.

The election of Evo Morales brings coca peace to Bolivia. When coca-growers union leader Morales was elected president in the fall of 2004, the country's coca farmers finally had a friend in high office. While previous years had seen tension and violence between cocaleros and the government's repressive apparatus, Morales has worked with the growers to seek voluntary limits on production and, with financial assistance from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, begun a program of research on the uses of coca and the construction of factories to turn it into tea or flour. All is not quiet -- there have been deadly clashes with growers in Las Yungas in recent months -- but the situation is greatly improved from previous years.

Brazil stops imprisoning drug users. Under a new drug law signed by President Luis Inacio "Lula" Da Silva in August, drug users and possessors will not be arrested and jailed, but cited and offered rehabilitation and community service. While the new "treatment not jail" law keeps drug users under the therapeutic thumb of the state, it also keeps them out of prison.

Italy reverses tough marijuana laws. Before its defeat this spring, the government of then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi toughened up Italy's previously relatively sensible drug laws, making people possessing more than five grams of marijuana subject to punishment as drug dealers. The new, left-leaning government of Premier Romano Prodi took and last month raised the limit for marijuana possession without penalty from five grams to an ounce. The Prodi government has also approved the use of marijuana derivatives for pain relief.

Can't Handle The Truth?

A new report proving that marijuana is America's number one cash crop has sparked significant interest around the blogoshere, mostly from fair-weather friends of our cause who recognize the absurdity of prohibiting a product of such enduring popularity.

Indeed, this news highlights the failure of prohibition, both for failing to eliminate the market, and for driving its value above that of various more popular vegetables.

But the fun part is reading what the anti-pot crowd has to say. The most entertaining entry in this regard is from Scott Whitlock at Newsbusters: Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias, who cites this story as evidence of a liberal media bias at CNN.

It's really funny. First, Whitlock complains that CNN correspondent Stephanie Elam refers to the drug as "our friend marijuana." Of course, Elam's remark is a nod to the fact that Americans spend more on pot than corn, rather than an admission that everyone at CNN loves weed. Whitlock includes the transcript, which makes this quite clear, but why let your own blockquotes get in the way of your argument?

Whitlock finds further evidence of "CNN's fondness for marijuana" in Elam's statement that marijuana legalization is "an interesting idea." Still, "interesting" is an interesting word in that it doesn't always indicate genuine interest. And when it does, interest is often not analogous to agreement. Perhaps Scott Whitlock only says something is "interesting" when he's really strongly in agreement with it, but I must admit that I've often said "that's interesting" when I actually just wanted somebody to shut up.

If CNN is pro-marijuana, that's great news and I can't wait for them to start making actual pro-marijuana statements on TV, but I still don't see what that has to do with liberal media bias. Liberals are more likely than conservatives to support marijuana reform, but there's certainly nothing inherently liberal about opposing the government's ill-conceived war on America's number one cash crop. The best evidence of this comes from Whitlock's own commenters, who come out decidedly in favor of legalization (though I suppose this could be the work of stoned CNN staffers masquerading as conservative blog trolls).

"Stoners Issue Report on Weed" from Christian blogger Jack Lewis comes in at a close second. Rather than lambasting the "liberal media" for reporting the story, Lewis attacks the report's methodology by not reading it and instead guessing what it might have been:

Not being a pot user myself, I had to go look up the price per pound for marijuana. What I could piece together is that the street value ranges from $2,000 to $5,000 per pound.
Since these are "Hey! Uh...like...legalize, like, marijuana, dude, okay?" types who are obviously cooking the figures to try to make their case, my bet is that they used the $5,000 price or something close. So ultimately we have the conclusion, not that the US produces more marijuana, but that marijuana prices are high enough (or at least the prices they used for their report) to make it more expensive than the cost for the corn and wheat we grow. That speaks more toward the stupidity of marijuana users than anything else.
For the record, the report's author Jon Gettman used a generously low estimate of $1,606 per pound. Reformers aren't the ones who inflate drug prices. That's a law-enforcement trick used to create the appearance that substantial gains have been made in the drug war.

It's amusing that Lewis has nothing to offer other than a weak attempt at refuting the study's conclusions. He implies unintentionally that this data would mean something if it were true. Well since it is true, what does it mean to you, Jack Lewis? We think it shows that marijuana prohibition has failed dramatically. I'm sure you'd hesitate to agree with that, but does it trouble you that prohibition has created a perpetual business opportunity for criminals?

Finally I checked out the Drug Czar's blog to see what ONDCP had to say about all of this. Surely, a thorough and deceptive "debunking" attempt awaited me. But alas, this story was bumped by the fascinating news that the Cullman County Board of Education in Alabama has decided to start drug-testing students who participate in extra-curricular activities.

Maybe they'll write something about this tomorrow. After all, it would be pretty silly to run the world's only exclusive pro-drug war blog and consistently fail to weigh in on the hottest drug policy stories of the day.

I swear, half their hits are just me trying to catch them doing something other than announcing when various school districts start a drug-testing program.

Location: 
United States

Pot Is Called Biggest Cash Crop; The $35 Million Market Value of US-Grown Cannabis Tops Such Heartland Staples as Corn and Hay, a Marijuana Activists Says

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-pot18dec18,0,5264617.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Read Between the Lines: Why DEA Only Raids Some Dispensaries

Here's the Drug Czar's blog gloating over the DEA's raid of the Local Patient's Cooperative in Hayward, CA:

The DEA took down another illegal marijuana dispensary in California. The owners were selling pot for profit under the guise of "medicinal use." Police seized pot cookies and expensive cars. More here (with video).

Notice the careful language used here. We're told that this was an "illegal marijuana dispensary" that used medical use as a "guise" to make money. As dispensary raids have increased in recent months, DEA has claimed each time that they're targeting clubs that engage in recreational sales. Similarly, ONDCP's blog post clearly implies that LPC was uniquely criminal in its conduct.

In other words, DEA and now ONDCP are tacitly condoning dispensaries that only sell to patients!

In both word and deed they are suggesting that dispensaries which follow California State law will generally not be targeted, despite the fact that federal law draws no such distinction. Obviously, this informal policy is driven not by compassion for the sick, but rather an acceptance of the political reality that the public won't tolerate continued assaults on patient access itself.

Unfortunately, DEA's willful ignorance of the nuances of legitimate medical marijuana use continues to undermine the value of this apparent compromise. Here's a quote from the SFGate.com article linked by ONDCP, which ironically undermines their whole point:

In the Hayward case, an FBI agent said in a sworn affidavit that officers staked out the Foothill Boulevard location five times in October and November and saw healthy-looking men entering and leaving the building each time, carrying bags the officers believed contained marijuana.
The only other evidence the agent cited to show that the dispensary was selling drugs to non-medical patients was a newspaper article saying police had found 10 times as much marijuana on the premises as the city's rules allowed.

That LPC's customers appeared "healthy looking" is a red herring. Most of the people in any medical setting appear healthy and California allows caretakers to obtain medicine on behalf of sick relatives. Furthermore, the apparent "health" of certain patients could as easily be attributed to their access to effective medicine. Hayward area patients with limited mobility might not be looking so good today.

LPC's excessive supply appears to be the only legitimate issue here and even that falls far short of justifying the conclusion that extra-medical sales were being conducted. Friends at Americans for Safe Access have explained to me that recent DEA activity has resulted more from poorly drafted or non-existent local regulations than from gratuitous improprieties on the part of dispensary owners.

With that in mind, consider what patient and activist Angel Raich had to say in an email:

"I can tell you that Local Patients Group was a really good co-op,
they served a high number of patients, they gave back to the patient
community, and the City of Hayward. This was the first medical cannabis co-op as you come into the SF Bay Area and many patients from the Central Valley and surrounding areas would travel for hours to get their medicine there and this raid has created a hardship for hundreds of patients. They will be missed."

Thank you Angel. If LPC's substantial supply reflects the needs of patients in the region, rather than profiteering by the club's operators, then the effect of the raid is to dramatically undermine legitimate patient access. Morally, there's a big difference between exceeding supply limits for the purpose of supplying patients, as opposed to engaging in recreational sales surreptitiously. Yet LPC's conduct was presumed to indicate the later and not the former.

In sum, federal authorities are admitting a distinction between medical and recreational sales, which shows that their position has been weakened. But they're failing to draw this distinction accurately and their newfound enthusiasm for busting "illegal" dispensaries has led to a recent increase in raids.

Federal charges mean that dispensary operators will have no opportunity to defend their adherence to state and local laws anyway, so the DEA's public justification for the raid becomes irrelevant after the fact. Meanwhile, reduced patient access shifts the burden to the remaining dispensaries, increasing their chances of running afoul of local ordinances and becoming the next target.

Ironically, Congressional debate over the Hinchey Amendment, which would solve this problem entirely, still focuses on whether marijuana is medicine; a fact that the DEA has already tacitly admitted.

Location: 
United States

City aims to prohibit medicinal marijuana dispensaries

Location: 
Simi Valley, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
Simi Valley Acorn
URL: 
http://www.simivalleyacorn.com/news/2006/1215/Community/013.html

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School