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I haven’t really posted much on the subject over the past year or so, despite huge developments in federal enforcement, state law, the proliferation (until recently) in dispensaries, etc. I’ve been content to let the other blogs handle it, and Kym does an excellent job as does Woods’ on his list (if you’re interested in the issue, and you’re not on his email list, talk to him. He and his network keep very good track of the developments at all levels.).
Even though I live right in the center of the storm, I find myself bored with the issue on an intellectual level. Like other issues such as abortion and gun rights, nobody has said anything original or new in years. I just haven’t been inspired.
Well, this may not be a new thought, but it comes after a little bit of reflection over recent events.
I don’t believe that the recent wave of federal enforcement activity amounts to a new campaign. In my view, they will probably slow down again momentarily. I think they simply wanted to send some shock waves through to rattle the nerves of elected officials and landlords. I don’t think they hope to eliminate dispensaries altogether, but reduce them and control further expansion, particularly in the “red areas” where they catch the most flack for non-enforcement of federal laws. I expect that despite the Ammiano efforts, there won’t be any earth-shaking changes in policy, and I expect enforcement to taper off again now that local governments are passing moratoriums.
The response from legalization advocates? More state referendums. But I think this is a waste of time. Medical marijuana has passed in about 20 states, and the federal government has made pretty clear that it is non-responsive to any symbolic votes. The polls indicate that the majority in the US support legalization to some degree, but it has not reached the point where there are any serious political liabilities for opposing a change in policy so the momentum is with the status quo. I don’t think rallies or civil disobedience will make a difference here.
I’m certain that the advocate groups have already considered this, and maybe they’re working on it, but at this point the only changes will come from acts of Congress. And the only way you can get anything from Congress is to lobby. NORML and MPP have already begun to the transition of strategy. But I’m thinking that there really needs to be a coordinated federal lobby strategy, and that the bulk of the advocates’ resources should be put into hiring, yes, professional lobbyists with connections to key committee members, and to focus on the Barney Frank bill currently trapped in some committee which would essentially eliminate federal enforcement against individuals and entities compliant with their state laws. It’s not paradise, but it would represent a game-changing turn.
And I really do believe that state referendums are a complete waste of time at this point. Proposition 19’s failure (regardless of whom you blame) probably set up the political basis for the more recent federal raids. Most people, and TV pundits, don’t pay too much attention to the details of opposition. Legalization failed. That was the headline. And had it won, it would not have held up to federal law as the Supreme Court has already ruled that drug enforcement laws are Constitutional under the Commerce Clause. Lawsuits are a waste of resources. Referendums are a waste of time. You need high profile Congressional representatives calling for a change in policy. Bottom line.
The Feds still see no medicinal benefit from marijuana. It’s still as dangerous as heroin. On Friday, the DEA refused the latest (9 years old) request to downgrade the classification.
Basically, the law would prohibit federal prosecution of individuals who comply with state and local medical marijuana laws.
Can he even get it out of committee?
In the SF Bay Guardian’s tradition of “best of” lists, they’ve added pot club reviews to the mix.
The 215 Committee of the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District is holding its first meeting to discuss the potential of incorporating medical cannabis into its operations. Agenda items will include identifying key resource people locally and state wide, getting reliable legal opinions, assigning tasks and developing an nascent strategy, as well as discussing the pros and cons of such an endeavor. Meeting is from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm on Wednesday, January 6 at the Dimmick Room at the Phelps Hospital in Garberville. Use the main entrance on Elm just off of Cedar. Feel free to bring snacks. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
the AMA reversed its position on medical marijuana.
Non-prosecution of marijuana users who follow state laws – beginning tomorrow. So reports AP.
Get your weed card.
Supervisors Mark Lovelace and Jimmy Smith will serve on a Board subcommittee to look into local regulations of medical marijuana production and distribution in order to address a number of problems associated with the industry.
Last night KMUD reported that Fortuna’s City Council was meeting on the same topic, and considering an outright ban – which is probably contrary to law. But that wouldn’t necessarily exclude zoning regs, to address housing shortages and other problems.
Update: Heraldo reports that Fortuna is set to pass a “very restrictive ordinance.”
I had an exchange with a Dutch friend about the drones being used in the Netherlands to eradicate marijuana and commented that we had certain ideas about Europe, particularly her country. She responded:
No, not “anything goes”. possessing it for your own use is legal, but possession for sale is illegal and so is growing it for sale. I think growing under 5 plants is legal. My neighbor was in jail for a year and had rented his house via-via, and his renters were growing. They were discovered and evicted, leaving an enormous electricity bill and much destruction. But at the other end of the street there is a house that smells very funny at certain months of the year, hardly ever see any signs of life there except an occasional brand new expensive red sports car parked in the garden once a year, never bothers anyone so nothing happens there. Not sure if the police don’t know or the neighbours just don’t complain.
It’s all pretty familiar to me.
Meanwhile there are two marijuana stories out today. The US Supreme Court refused to hear and thus let stand the rejection of the challenge of San Diego and San Bernadino Counties who had argued that the law could not require them to honor Prop. 215 because it put them at odds with federal law. We have yet to see a case in which federal laws are challenged as a violation of the 10th Amendment as they pertain to privately cultivated and used medical marijuana – ie. marijuana arguably outside the “stream of commerce.” I think both sides have avoided pressing the issue.
On the downside for medical marijuana advocates, Charles “Eddy” Lepp of Lake County was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for cultivating with intent to distribute 1000 plants. Judge Marilyn Patel, a very liberal judge, was sorry about the sentence which she believes is excessive, but states that she had no discretion under the federal sentencing mandates. We’ve seen this before.