Thursday, April 26, 2012

After Years of Dodging Questions About Legalization, Medical Use, Obama Goes on Record — And it's Not Pretty

President Obama began his administration giving proponents of medicinal marijuana and legalization proponents hope that this commander-in-chief would be different.

Keep in mind that this president fessed up to smoking pot (and that he inhaled) and doing a little coke while he attended Punahou, a very exclusive private school in Honolulu. Presidential candidate Obama also promised that he wouldn't dedicate Justice Department resources to prosecute medical marijuana cases in states that OK'd it.

Of course, we all know how political promises turn out, don't we? States that legalized medical marijuana now have U.S. Attorneys shutting down dispensaries and collectives despite the will of its citizens. Though Obama's been one of the most accessible presidents via the Internet, he's never answered questions about legalization and medical use, never mind that those questions are always one of the most frequently asked — until now.

He recently told talk show host Jimmy Fallon, "We’re not going to have legalized weed anytime soon."

He said even more during a Rolling Stone interview, though it sounded like political newspeak:

"What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana — and the reason is, because it’s against federal law. I can’t nullify congressional law.

"I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, ‘Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books. What I can say is, ‘Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage. As a consequence there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes."

Well, gee — that's not disingenuous or confusing at all!“to-turn-the-other-way”-on-medical-marijuana-dispensaries/

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

California State Senator Moves to Protect Collectives, Dispensaries from Federal Prosecution

A California senator is proposing legislation to shield medical marijuana collectives and dispensaries from federal prosecution.

California law currently protects primary caregivers — those who grow, buy or distribute marijuana for medical use — from federal charges. However, Marin County Senator Mark Leno is proposing that protection extend to collectives, dispensaries, storefronts and delivery services, NPR affiliate KPCC reports.

Los Angeles State Senator Curren Price of Los Angeles and Senator Ron Calderon of Montebello both voted for Leno's measure.

 The bill comes at a time when U.S. Attorneys around the country are bringing charges against businesses involved in medical marijuana in states where it's legal. California Attorney General Kamala Harris has also asked the state legislature to clarify the state law regarding medical marijuana.

Study Supports Anti-I-502 Position of Washington State's Dispensaries

A recent study examining the THC level of marijuana users found traces of the chemical about a month after their last use.

A sample of 30 heavy pot users found detectable levels in their blood of THC 29 days after following their last use of the drug. While the levels were undetectable in most after 30 days, one user had THC in his system 33 days into the study.

The study calls into question the DUI standards proposed for Washington state's initiative to legalize marijuana, initiative 502 or I-502. Under the proposed DUI law, drivers with 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood would be declared driving under the influence. Critics of the proposed law, particularly medical dispensaries, claimed that the 5 nanogram rule would effectively turn all of their patients into criminals, even if they haven't smoked in days.

 The study supports their position and is a rebuttal against a statement made by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' Executive Director Allen St. Pierre, who claimed that the medical marijuana industry was now driven by profits, not compassion.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unlikely Enemies: Recreational Proponents, Dispensaries Square off Over Washington State's I-502

Small business magazine Inc. profiles the current movement in Washington state to legalize marijuana and how medical marijuana dispensaries are fighting the proposition.

Initiative 502, or I-502, is a ballot measure that will allow Washingtonians to own and smoke marijuana for recreational use. It will also legalize its sale and generate revenue for the state through sales taxes on cannabis.

 While the push for recreational legalization is a goal of many proponents of pot, an unlikely enemy of the initiative is surfacing — Washington's medical marijuana dispensaries. The dispensaries, organized as "No on I-502," oppose the THC threshold for driving under the influence, which would make their patients legally intoxicated while driving a day after smoking a single joint.

They also claim the initiative will be negligible in affecting the black market because of the taxes.

However, others have pointed out that the opposition by dispensaries may be more self-serving. A recreational ban would eliminate the need for niche medical retailers.

 The issue has prompted the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws to comment on the issue. Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the group, said, "The medical marijuana industry is driven by profit," he said. "It's not driven by compassion anymore. It is driven by the need to make money."