Friday, September 28, 2012

States Flirting with Legalization May See Drug Enforcement as More Trouble than its Worth

In a post on authored by the Libertarian-leaning, the trend of Western states to legalize marijuana is compared to movements during prohibition to withdraw enforcement of the Volstead Act.

The upcoming legalization votes in Washington, Oregon and Colorado may force Democrats and Republicans alike to reconsider their stance on national drug policy. "If any of these ballot initiatives pass," the group writes, "it might be the most consequential election result this fall, forcing both major parties to confront an unjust, irrational policy that Americans increasingly oppose."

Though Oregon's measure is trending to maintain marijuana prohibition, the ballot initiatives in Washington and Colorado are looking hopeful for advocates of legalization. However, similar support was reported by polls in California's bid for legalization in 2010, but it fizzled and pot remained illegal.

The motivation for what may be the beginning of the end of the war on drugs? The realization that the constant costs of enforcement outweigh the benefits — if any — to society.

"That does not mean all these people are current marijuana consumers, eager for the lower prices, convenience, quality, and variety promised by a legal market," the group states. "But they, along with their friends and relatives, have had enough direct and indirect experience with cannabis to decide that prohibition costs more than it's worth."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Court Decision Advance Medical Marijuana in Michigan, But Montana Denies Right to Pot as Medicine

If you think confusing medical marijuana laws are just for California, think again. One case in Michigan is a step forward for medical marijuana and another in Montana is a step back.

Courts in Michigan have decided that there is a "bona fide" relationship between patients and the doctors who prescribed them the medical marijuana. In this case, the issue at hand was Robert Ward's arrest following the discovery of 23 marijuana plants in a secured area. The prosecution questioned the doctor/patient relationship between Ward and Dr. Robert Townsend, the physician who signed off on his card.

The Weed Blog reports the court found in favor of Ward because Townsend kept detailed records of his patients, that he actually met his patients (and was not a "hotel or Internet doctor," and that the as-needed directions for the use of the pot was not an issue.

However, the Montana Supreme Court — usually known for upholding individual rights — ruled that there is no right medical marijuana. The decision puts new restrictions on dispensaries, such as them to three patients and prohibiting the storefronts from making a profit. This ruling was delivered despite a lower court blocking the new rules.

An attempt was made by the state's legislature to ban medical marijuana, despite the will of the voters who approved the measure and a veto by Gov. Brian Schweitzer. American Medical News reports that the Montana Marijuana Act, which outlined the new restrictions for storefronts, was then approved by the state's legislature.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Los Angeles DA Hopefuls Want to Continue Dispensary Shutdown

If you didn't need any more confirmation of the anti-medical marijuana climate in the nation's second largest city, the most recent debate between the two candidates duking it out for the position of Los Angeles District Attorney, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson, should confirm any lingering doubts.

Despite being a non-partisan race, the Democratic party endorsed Lacey; the Republicans are backing Jackson. They different on their opinion of a proposition that only a serious or violent crime would trigger a mandatory 25 sentence for someone with a "third strike" (Lacey supports it and Jackson opposes it). Lacey supports driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, while Jackson is against it (on the grounds it will encourage Mexican drug cartel activity).

However the one issue they agreed on? Continuing the prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries, according to radio station KPCC.

Lacey: "It's my position that over-the-counter sales for money of marijuana are illegal."

Jackson: "Those folks are simple drug dealers."

Dispensaries Selling to Patients OK in Washington, Seattle Politicians Say, Feds Have it Wrong

The recent federal crackdown on Seattle's dispensaries has, predictably, caused the city's pro-cannabis forces to demand the DEA and US Attorney's office to leave the storefronts alone. But another, unexpected voice has been drawn into the debate — lawmakers.

Despite the justification that the only dispensaries that are near schools will be affected, State Representative Roger Goodman of Kirkland told National Public Radio Affiliate KPLU that the federal government is overreaching.

“Our message to the federal government is, get off our backs. We’re doing it right. The federal policy for the last 40 years has been the most corrosive, disastrous bipartisan failure in social policy and health policy. And the states are getting it right," he said.

Goodman isn't a lone voice in his dissent against the status quo of drug policy and dogma. Seattle city council member Nick Licata went on record saying that even if the dispensaries are selling medical marijuana near schools, it's not a violation of state law. Illegal sales of marijuana near schools are prohibited, but sales to patients at dispensaries are approved.

The US Attorney's office did not comment to KPLU, only saying that marijuana sales were illegal under federal law.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Facing Legalization in Washington, Oregon and Colorado, Anti-Pot Groups Think of the Children

Anti-marijuana groups, coming to terms with the real possibility of legalization in Washington state, Oregon and Colorado, have broken out the "won't someone think of the children?!" argument, Reuters reports.

Identifying their core constituents as soccer moms, the groups hold grassroots meetings in private suburban homes. There, anti-drug crusaders testify as to the evils of allowing even one marijuana plant to grow out of fear of possible corruption of their innocent offspring.

In the case of Colorado Republican State Representative Kathleen Conti, she talks about marijuana being the gateway drug and her son turning to heroin (never mind about social and parental factors or research pointing to alcohol as a gateway drug).

The groups are active in the states that will be voting on legalizing pot. The Colorado group raised the most money out of the other groups with nearly $200,000 in its warchest.

Pro-pot groups, such as the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, argues against the prohibitionist rhetoric of anti-marijuana groups. Its co-director, Mason Tvert, co-director of the group, points to a Centers for Disease Control study that found that teen pot smoking went down after pot was legalized for medical use in Colorado.