Medical Pot: a Tangled Proposition
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Medical Pot: a Tangled Proposition
Posted by CN Staff on October 31, 2009 at 06:13:25 PT
By Gregory J. Sullivan, Staff Writer
Source: Times of Trenton
Trenton --  As New Jersey continues its movement toward enactment of the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, the no-federal-prosecution policy shift announced by the Obama administration should be given close scrutiny. This scrutiny is required because of the unraveling of the medical-marijuana situation in Los Angeles and other cities in California, which threatens to undo this entire reform effort.The United States Justice Department has just instructed all federal prosecutors not to prosecute the use of medical marijuana in the 14 states where it is sanctioned so long as its use complies with state law.
The possession and use of marijuana for any purpose remains a federal offense, but as a matter of discretion, the violation will be undisturbed.Of course, the Obama administration is perfectly free to exercise prosecutorial discretion in this way. However, those states that allow medical marijuana -- and those states, like New Jersey, that are on the threshold of allowing it -- should recognize that this discretionary decision may very well change with a future administration. The use of medical marijuana, even in those states where state law expressly permits it, remains a plain -- if unenforced -- violation of federal law. New Jersey will join all the other states that have permitted the medical use of marijuana in opening residents to prosecution if the current federal policy reverts back to enforcement.And that enforcement will undoubtedly become necessary if the experience of Los Angeles is any indication of what may be coming. "There are," reports The New York Times, "more marijuana stores [in Los Angeles] than public schools." It is manifest from The Times' report that one of the main arguments against the medical use of marijuana -- namely, that it will operate as a cover for the general legalization of marijuana -- is being vindicated in that city. As Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles County district attorney, has said: "About 100 percent of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally." To be sure, there are California cities -- Oakland, for example -- that appear to regulate medical marijuana with some success. The issue remains whether the de facto legalization of marijuana that is taking place in Los Angeles (and San Diego) or the more carefully regulated medical use in Oakland will prevail. (To its credit, Los Angeles has promised to begin aggressive enforcement of state law to try to impose some control on the current chaos.)Moreover, as The Times also noted, federal restraint on medical marijuana creates dangerous enforcement lacunae: "Some federal law enforcement officials oppose the administration's position. Privately, some of them complained ... that medical marijuana and marijuana smuggled into the country from Mexico were one and the same, and that the Obama administration had now backed away from necessary enforcement of drug laws." Another disturbing development: The power to prescribe medical marijuana is being abused by physicians. At present, there are about 300,000 doctors' referrals for medical marijuana, most of them out of Los Angeles. It is very difficult to believe that this vast amount of referrals has to do with the proper use of medical judgment rather than the accommodation of mere patient preference.A very cogent case for the medical use of marijuana can and has been made. But any case will fail, and ought to fail, with the regulatory and medical abuses reported in Los Angeles and elsewhere. What is more, the exceptionless federal prohibition remains. The issue of using marijuana to relieve the suffering of patients with grave physical afflictions is too important to leave these major obstacles unaddressed.The Obama no-prosecution policy will allow California and other states to function as laboratories for this issue. Whether the experiment works is a very open question. The evidence from Los Angeles is not at all encouraging. New Jersey should consider the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act with great circumspection. Otherwise, places like, say, Atlantic City will become nothing more than unchecked marijuana markets, which is not what this reform is about at all.Source: Times of Trenton (NJ)Author: Gregory J. Sullivan, Staff Writer Published: Saturday, October 31, 2009Copyright: 2009 New Jersey On-Line LLCContact: Gregoryjsull aol.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #2 posted by Vincent on October 31, 2009 at 22:59:21 PT:
This article
Wow! I could feel the strong negativity coming from this "piece of jounalism". What is it with the "William Bennetts" of the world? Why are they so robotic?
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Comment #1 posted by FiddleMan on October 31, 2009 at 13:35:23 PT
Legalize Cannabis: a Simple Proposition
"To its credit, Los Angeles has promised to begin aggressive enforcement of state law to try to impose some control on the current chaos."...I hope that this means that Los Angeles is going to fire Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles County district attorney, for NOT FOLLOWING State Law!"About 100 percent of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally."...Steve Cooley is a California State Employee - NOT a Federal Employee, so Steve Cooley cannot make the statement that these dispensaries are operating illegally when they do indeed abide by California State Law. All that he is really saying is that these dispensaries are illegal from the Federal point of view. Go ahead and get rid of this guy - let him go to pursue the Federal position that he desires! He is hurting Los Angeles and he will NOT abide by the will of the people of the State of California. If the Los Angeles County district attorney cannot follow (or understand) California State Law, then the Los Angeles County district attorney should be fired - immediately!The only reason that the Feds have not Legalized Cannabis is because they would rather "leave the issue to someone else (the States)". So States Ė Letís Do It!All States need Compassionate Medical Marijuana, but the correct way to handle this is to simply Legalize Cannabis Now - and tax/regulate it like Alcohol. 
It's a simple approach that EVERYONE can understand.Most everyone knows the great benefits of Legalizing Cannabis, so I will not add that huge list here. Legalize Cannabis Now!It's the SMART thing to do - It's the MORAL thing to do.Legalize Cannabis Now!
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