Thursday, June 20, 2013

Legalized Marijuana Sees Opposition from Medical Marijuana Community

For years advocates for medical marijuana have fought to have marijuana legalized in this country. Now, their dream is a reality in Washington and Colorado and more states are preparing to follow suit. Yet many of the same people who have crusaded so long and hard for legalized marijuana have spoken out against it, citing concerns with the new taxes and regulations. Their fear is that these taxes and regulations will affect their medical marijuana laws and they wish to keep these two as separate as they can.

Since medical marijuana was legalized in Washington, numerous medical marijuana collectives or co-ops have sprouted throughout the state. Most of these storefronts operate in a way that makes it possible for them to exchange their marijuana crops for donations instead of selling it. This exchange system has become very profitable for many medical marijuana individuals.

After I-502 passed in November, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has been working diligently to draft rules of the new pot system, including taxing marijuana and tracking "seed to store". It is exactly these types of taxes and regulations that have the medical marijuana community concerned.

Pat Hynes, part-owner of Professional Patient Co-op in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood voiced his concerns for the patients who need this medicine to feel better. Many are in constant and chronic pain and can barely afford to pay for their marijuana as it is. An additional 25%-50% in taxes would be devastating for many of them.

Another group that is concerned over I-502's regulations and taxes are the medical marijuana growers. Many are concerned that big business will run them out of town altogether. As it stands, large corporations, such as Phillip Morris and AB InBev are lobbying in Olympia. How I-502 and the new legalized marijuana business in Washington will affect the medical marijuana community remains to be seen.

Monday, June 17, 2013

US Attorney General Ready to Respond to Marijuana Legalization

United States Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate that the Obama Administration is in the process of formulating a policy in response to states that have already legalized marijuana. These newly enacted laws in both Colorado and Washington have put the state laws in direct violation of the federal laws. Currently the federal law says it is still a crime to possess and sell marijuana.

"We are considering what the federal response to those new statutes will be and we will have the ability to announce what our policy will be relatively soon."
                   ---Eric Holder, United States Attorney General

There are many who believe that the US government should take steps to nullify Colorado and Washington's amended laws. These people include eight former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration and four former drug czars. In their letter to the Attorney General, they stated that "our nation urgently needs action from Attorney General Holder to ensure that federal marijuana laws are enforced".

US House member Steve Cohen, however, responded that "the federal government should concentrate on shutting down meth labs, not the laboratories of Democracy". Even Obama himself has said that the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in Washington and Colorado would not be a priority. For now, Washington and Colorado pot enthusiasts wait patiently for the federal government's final decision.