State Workers Could Face Charges for Marijuana Law

State Workers Could Face Charges for Marijuana Law
Posted by CN Staff on August 10, 2007 at 06:25:49 PT
By Deborah Baker, Associated Press Writer
Source: Associated Press
New Mexico -- The state Department of Health and its employees could face federal prosecution for implementing New Mexico’s new medical-marijuana law, the attorney general has cautioned.And they wouldn’t get any help from the attorney general: That office isn’t authorized to defend state workers in criminal cases, according to a letter released Thursday.
New Mexico as of July 1 has a medical-marijuana program run by the state Department of Health that not only legalizes the use of marijuana by certain patients but provides for state-licensed production and distribution of the drug.Thus far, 48 patients have applied for the program, and half have been approved, according to the department. Seven applicants were rejected, and 17 have been asked to provide more information.The approved patients get temporary certificates allowing them to possess a three-month supply of marijuana, including plants.The law requires the department to issue rules by Oct. 1 for licensing producers and developing a distribution system.That provision is unique among the dozen states that have legalized medical marijuana, and department officials asked the attorney general at the end of May to assess their exposure to prosecution.In a letter dated Aug. 6, lawyers in Attorney General Gary King’s office said the department and its employees or representatives “may be subject to federal prosecution for implementing the Compassionate Use Act.”There was no immediate reaction from the department.“We’ve just received the letter, and we’re going to discuss what our next step will be,” said spokeswoman Deborah Busemeyer.The letter said the U.S. Supreme Court has concluded the manufacture and distribution of marijuana — even for medical use — is illegal, and federal authorities have prosecuted citizens for growing medical marijuana.While medical-marijuana proponents might argue that federal authorities have shown little enthusiasm for prosecuting patients — and no interest in prosecuting states for setting up registries and identification card programs — the department or its employees could be prosecuted, the letter said.“The production and distribution of marijuana is still a crime at the federal level ... and that is something that state laws can’t change,” said Tom Riley, spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy.“Whether or not a case is brought is up to the U.S. attorney and the Department of Justice,” he said.Two weeks ago, federal agents raided 10 medical-marijuana clinics in Los Angeles, arresting clinic owners and managers but not patients. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says the clinics are distribution points for illegal drugs.White House drug czar John Walters criticized Gov. Bill Richardson in April for signing the bill, calling it irresponsible and saying it would worsen the state’s illegal drug use problem.Walters also claimed Richardson — who is running for the Democratic nomination for president — was trying to curry the favor of wealthy marijuana-legalization advocates.The law requires the Health Department to develop a medical-marijuana distribution system with production facilities “within New Mexico housed on secure grounds and operated by licensed producers.”Distribution of marijuana would take place at locations designated by the department.Note: Medical approval in New Mexico doesn’t make pot less illegal to feds.Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Deborah Baker, Associated Press WriterPublished: August 10, 2007 Copyright: 2007 Associated Press Related Articles: Local Doctors To Have Say in Marijuana Program Mexico's Pot Connection Requires N.M. To Grow Its Own Pot
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Comment #9 posted by RevRayGreen on August 11, 2007 at 21:45:38 PT
indeed, this will set precedence. I will pass the RFRA
idea over to Brother Carl Olsen here in DSM.
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Comment #8 posted by whig on August 10, 2007 at 14:16:21 PT
At the federal level, invoke RFRA if you can. That's my suggestion.
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Comment #7 posted by Dankhank on August 10, 2007 at 12:33:03 PT
At the federal level, mention of medical marijuana is usually not allowed interesting if they can keep the cat in the bag in NM
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Comment #6 posted by HempWorld on August 10, 2007 at 10:19:24 PT
Thanks FOM: That sounds so endearing... grand
fathered in! Why don't we do that with all the other existing medical marijuana programs in the other 12 states? FACT is, the Federal Government grows marijuana, handles it and sends it every month (still) to patients across the US. Which means they are violating their own laws or they need to come clean with the lie that marijuana has no medical use and then allow every state in the union to regulate it to their own liking as set forth by the US Constitution,Thank you,
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on August 10, 2007 at 10:01:33 PT
I think because the first Bush stopped the program and only those already in the program got grandfathered in so it's like it doesn't exist anymore.
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Comment #4 posted by HempWorld on August 10, 2007 at 09:57:33 PT
Federal Compassionate Use Program?
At the risk of repeating myself. Why is nobody talking about the FACT that the US Federal Government has its own Medical Marijuana Program that is still alive and well but somehow the DEA leave this alone and so does the US Supreme Court. Isn't this a little strange? Who can explain this?
Nobody can stop this!
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Comment #3 posted by NikoKun on August 10, 2007 at 08:02:33 PT
What would stand up in court?
Fine... let the feds try to take this to court...It was the vote and will of the people, lets see the Feds get around that in a supreme court. The state department was only acting on what the majority voted on.
For a judge to find that wrong, would totally invalidate the way our government is supposed to be run, and would be a huge slap in the face of our core governmental values, and constitution...So I'd like to see them try... They'd be walking themselves into a legalization trap. XD
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Comment #2 posted by ripit on August 10, 2007 at 06:57:59 PT:
needs to be replaced?
isn't their a.g. a state employee?was this a personal choice not to back his fellow employees or is he a fed puppet hoping for job on some fed level?
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 10, 2007 at 06:28:51 PT
Do You Support Medical Marijuana?
Do You Support The Legalization of Medical Marijuana?August 10, 2007
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