Official Won’t Fight Medical Pot Users
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Official Won’t Fight Medical Pot Users
Posted by CN Staff on October 21, 2009 at 04:34:12 PT
By Norma Love, The Associated Press 
Source: Nashua Telegraph
Concord, NH --  The new U.S. attorney for New Hampshire said Tuesday he won’t prosecute people using small amounts of marijuana for pain or to improve their appetite. U.S. Attorney John Kacavas told The Associated Press his office will go after drug dealers, but not the sick. He said he will follow guidance issued Monday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder telling prosecutors that targeting people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state laws was not a good use of their time. Federal law bans the use and distribution of marijuana.
The absence of a state law allowing medical use makes no difference, Kacavas said. It will be up to the state to decide to prosecute medical users, not his office, he said. “This attorney general believes that it’s a limited resource allocation problem. Federal resources are better reserved for larger scale drug dealers and consumers of drugs,” Kacavas said. The policy does not endorse marijuana use or mean its use is legal, he said. “But it is saying in a smarter battle against drugs, people who use it to improve their appetite, people who use it to alleviate their pain probably ought not to be prosecuted federally,” Kacavas said. Next week, the House votes whether to override Gov. John Lynch’s veto of a bill that would make New Hampshire the 14th state to legalize marijuana use by severely ill people. Depending on attendance, the House may have the two-thirds votes needed to override the veto, but supporters need two more votes in the Senate. Asked if his office would prosecute medical users if the law doesn’t pass, Kacavas replied it would not. He said he would enforce federal drug laws against dealers and those buying other illegal drugs. The exception only applies to marijuana, he said. In his veto message last spring, Lynch cited concerns over distribution and cultivation. He also noted that marijuana use for any purpose remains illegal under federal and state law. Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said the Obama administration’s shift in policy does not alleviate Lynch’s concerns and does not make marijuana use legal. The bill would create barriers to controlling unauthorized marijuana use, Manning said. “We should not set a lower bar for medical marijuana than we do for other controlled substances, and we should not implement a law that still has serious flaws,” Manning said. State Rep. Evalyn Merrick, a Lancaster Democrat and the bill’s main sponsor, said Kacavas’ position is good news. But, she said, New Hampshire needs a state law. She said she’s more optimistic that the veto will be overridden. “I would prefer that we as a state set policy so we can control it, so we can guarantee the quality is good for patients,” she said. If the veto is overridden, the bill would establish three nonprofit “compassion centers” to dispense 2 ounces of marijuana every 10 days to severely ill patients whose doctors approve the drug’s use. The state would license the centers and issue identification cards to their staff, approved patients and their caregivers. Lynch said he was particularly concerned about the potential for unauthorized distribution, given that in addition to patients and designated caregivers, an unlimited number of compassion center volunteers also would have access to the drug. He also took issue with the amount of drug allowed to be dispensed, saying the potency of marijuana can vary greatly depending on how it is cultivated. Supporters said allowing only the compassion centers to grow marijuana would assure the drug’s consistency. The bill would create a “pharmacy model” by licensing the compassion centers to grow and dispense marijuana to patients approved by doctors to receive the drug. Rhode Island and New Mexico have enacted similar models. The bill is silent on the cost to patients, but supporters hope contributions will allow them to dispense the drug with little or no cost to patients. But Lynch predicts the state’s administrative costs would be so high that only the wealthiest patients would be able to afford to pay the resulting fees. Supporters said any fees would be far lower than the cost of prescription medications that attempt to give the same relief. Source: Nashua Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)Author: Norma Love, The Associated Press Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2009Copyright: 2009 Telegraph Publishing CompanyContact: letters nashuatelegraph.comWebsite: http://www.nashuatelegraph.comURL: CannabisNews Medical Marijuana Archives
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