Congress Should Update Cannabis Laws 
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Congress Should Update Cannabis Laws 
Posted by CN Staff on August 04, 2009 at 10:44:31 PT
By Ian McPhail
Source: Battalion
USA -- In 1996, the marijuana reform movement won a major political battle in California, legalizing medical marijuana in the nation's second largest state. Today, more than 115 million people live in 13 states that have decriminalized marijuana, and Americans have yet to see the apocalypse promised by the national government.Over the past 70 years, the national government has overstepped its powers in enforcing what has become a prohibition against cannabis. Equally shocking is the failure of the media to act as a watchdog against federal agencies and reflect the mores of a changing America. In a three part mini-series, three interconnected contributors to cannabis prohibition will be discussed.
With just the price of a ticket to California, marijuana users can change their legal status from criminal to respected citizen. Medical marijuana in California is a polite euphemism for legalization, as $150 buys a doctor's recommendation and card. With this white plastic license, marijuana becomes a legitimate product no different from tobacco or alcohol, purchased by responsible adults out of vending machines.Legalization has made procuring marijuana safe and profitable, and over the course of the next month, the Oakland city council will strongly consider passing a bill taxing the $20 million in legal marijuana sales that coffee shops and clubs made in profit last year.Though California is the most liberal example, 13 states have decided to legalize medical marijuana. Others, like New York, have decriminalized small amounts of cannabis. But while throughout the country citizens are electing local and state officials who reflect their more tolerant view of marijuana, the national government continues to ignore the will of the people.Upstanding citizens like Charlie Lynch and Ed Rosenthal, who grew and sold medical marijuana within California's state guidelines, have been prosecuted in federal court. Drug enforcement agencies have regularly harassed citizens by superseding state law, and ignoring local policy in federal court."In a federal court you cannot even mention the medical marijuana card, because the federal government has the 'Alice in Wonderland' delusion that medical marijuana doesn't exist," said Allen St. Pierre, director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "Ed Rosenthal had video tapes of him and a chief of police with his marijuana that were not even allowed to be shown in court."Rosenthal did everything within his power to ensure that his operation was within the law, yet in federal court he was found guilty of three felonies. In 2007 Lynch was involved in a similar case, where his medical marijuana store was harassed before his home and business was raided by DEA agents with guns and shields."They sent in undercover sheriff's deputies to go encourage Charlie to break the federal law," said Lynch's lawyer, John Littrell. "In every case, what they found was that his employees always verified doctors' recommendations. No one could manage to get anybody - Charlie or anyone that Charlie was working with - to dispense marijuana in a way that violated state law."There are many marijuana users and businessmen persecuted in the same way as Lynch, who received a minimum year sentence from a federal judge. These citizens are not dealing drugs in a back alley, they are selling "medicine" in stores. Businessmen like Lynch and Rosenthal have shown the ability to legitimize a black market industry, and turn it into a profitable and taxable cash crop.Local and state government can afford to be more responsive to the changes of citizens' attitudes, and should be given greater influence in enforcing marijuana laws. More importantly, the powers not delegated to national government by the U.S. Constitution are reserved by the states. Citizens like Lynch and Rosenthal are not criminals, and their cases do not warrant the suspension of the 10th Amendment.Americans' opinions on the practicality of legalizing a drug less potent than alcohol is changing, and this is being made possible partially through the examples set by California and 12 other states. Voters in California have told elected officials their views on marijuana, and the state has responded. The Drug Enforcement Administration and its "War on Drugs" was not created to limit democracy by circumventing state law and policy."Executive departments and agencies have sometimes announced their regulations preempt state law, including state common law, without explicit preemption by the Congress or an otherwise sufficient basis under applicable legal principles," read a memo on May 20 from the office of the press secretary to the heads of executive departments and agencies.Thankfully, President Obama has indicated through his May 20 press release that the national government is no longer willing to ignore the constitution to continue this prohibition against pot. Unfortunately, this comes on the heels of federal anti-drug agencies acting overzealously with their policies, willing to ignore both the law and the Bill of Rights to catch more marijuana users. Perhaps in an attempt to propagate themselves, institutions like the DEA and other enforcement agencies have continued this prohibition against cannabis in sovereign states no longer desiring persecution. Values are changing slowly about cannabis, and state governments need their constitutional right to govern.Ian McPhail is a sophomore history major.Source: Battalion, The (Texas A&M U, TX Edu)Author: Ian McPhailPublished: August 4, 2009Copyright: 2009 The BattalionWebsite: mailcall thebattalion.netURL: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #5 posted by christ on August 05, 2009 at 04:12:41 PT
Mark702 #3. Benefits of prohibition
Seizures like that don't make sense to me either. All I can think of are three ways it could benefit... but it only benefits a very small minority of people... law enforcement, prosecutors, etc. Where there's that much cannabis, there's got to be a lot of money. I bet the police got to keep all the money via Asset Forfeiture. Wouldn't it be nice to see it going to a government's general fund, or to all the registered non-profits instead?By making a huge cut in supply, local pricing should go up. So future seizures come with more money than normal. More money to hire more people to make more cannabis busts. More busts = less supply... And then in the short term, there's another investigation and/or arrests. So more justification to hire more work, or at least not trim personnel.
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Comment #4 posted by tintala on August 04, 2009 at 15:24:08 PT:
ALWAYS! If we the people had it the right way, our houses would be made from HEMP and not the last remaining pine forest our world has and DUPONTS monopoly on 99% of building materials would would go away.. farmers would profit from HEMPOVATIONS and our economy would be green.
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Comment #3 posted by Mark702 on August 04, 2009 at 13:25:54 PT
Wasting Tax Dollars
Ya know, I just saw an article the other day how the government seized approximately $1 billion worth of marijuana, and I couldn't help but think of what they planned on doing with it. Were they going to just burn it or store it away in an evidence room? Had it been legalized, they would have greatly profited to some extent on the harmless marijuana, but instead they wasted what I assume to be a great deal of taxpayer money on investigating and securing this so called "harmful drug".What part of this makes sense?
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on August 04, 2009 at 13:09:33 PT
great job kid
>>>Over the past 70 years, the national government has overstepped its powers in enforcing what has become a prohibition against cannabis. Equally shocking is the failure of the media to act as a watchdog against federal agencies and reflect the mores of a changing America. In a three part mini-series, three interconnected contributors to cannabis prohibition will be discussed. Well done! It's all about the outrage. Once you lose your sense of outrage you've become a slave.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 04, 2009 at 12:39:56 PT
OT: Wonderful News
Report: N. Korea To Free 2 U.S. Journalists
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