A Smarter Federal Path on State-Voted MJ Laws
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A Smarter Federal Path on State-Voted MJ Laws
Posted by CN Staff on April 28, 2013 at 16:38:53 PT
By Neal Peirce, Syndicated Columnist
Source: Seattle Times
Washington, D.C. -- The time is at hand for the Obama administration to stop dithering, to take a clear position on the rights of Washington state and Colorado — and by precedent all others — to experiment with legalized marijuana.That’s what Govs. Jay Inslee of Washington and John Hickenlooper of Colorado are asking the Justice Department to do — even though they personally opposed the marijuana legalization measures their voters approved last November.
The governors insist they can make their states’ new laws work well through responsible regulations that license, regulate and tax the production and sale of marijuana. New state labeling laws, say supporters, will also remove confusion and dangerous use levels by showing the potency in terms of THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, analogous to the labeling of alcoholic beverages.Clearly it’s a direction the American people — who favor marijuana legalization 52 to 41 percent in recent polling — would approve.A collaborative approach would be consistent with President Obama’s own marijuana history — a substance he tried himself as a youth. Asked last December about the Colorado and Washington legalization votes, he told Barbara Walters “It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal,” because “we’ve got bigger fish to fry.”But Mr. President, there are serious issues to resolve. As personal purchase and use of marijuana are permitted in some states, can the practice really be contained at state borders? Will television, Web and print advertising be allowed? Will the legalizing states allow many small or just a few large suppliers? How much marijuana will be eligible for sale at one time? How will “marijuana tourism” — out-of-state visitors coming just to stock up — be handled? Will retail outlets be allowed near a state’s borders?And then questions that undecided states may want to hear answered: Will the big tax revenues that marijuana supporters predict actually come true? Will driving under the influence of marijuana prove a real problem — and if so, how will it be controlled? Or on the health front: Will freely available marijuana help returning veterans suffering from PTSD? And generally, will it lead to more or less use of a substance we know is clearly dangerous: alcohol?Those are the types of intriguing questions that journalist-scholar Stuart Taylor Jr. probes in a newly released Brookings Institution policy paper — “Marijuana Policy and Presidential Leadership: How to Avoid a Federal-State Train Wreck.”Central to his case: the argument for an early, upfront agreement by the Obama administration and the states. Because the opposite — a fierce federal crackdown on Colorado and Washington state’s licensed marijuana producers and sellers — could well “backfire by producing an atomized, anarchic, state-legalized but unregulated marijuana market that federal drug enforcers could neither contain nor force the states to contain.”And back to Obama — what about the U.S. Justice Department? It could use threats of conspiracy prosecutions to scare off applicants for state licenses to grow and sell marijuana. But there are federalism barriers: Washington can’t directly force states to enforce federal law. And there are only 4,400 federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents — “nowhere near enough,” Taylor suggests, “to restrain the metastasis of the grow-your-own-and-share marijuana market” — with small-time criminals crowding in — “that state legalization without regulation would stimulate.”The recent precedents aren’t good. Faced by 18 states’ laws already allowing marijuana for medical use, the Justice Department has swung back and forth from general permissiveness to cracking down unmercifully in individual cases.A crux of the problem is the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which insists that marijuana has no medicinal properties — an assertion “on its face nonsensical,” says Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.But the law’s criminal sanctions for cultivating, possessing or distributing marijuana aren’t alone, notes Taylor. The statute also instructs that the attorney general “shall cooperate” with states on controlled substances, with power “to enter into contractual agreements ... to provide for cooperative enforcement and regulatory activities.”This is the opening, Taylor argues, that the Obama administration should take to negotiate with the states legalizing marijuana use — a process that would lead them toward careful regulation and standards, and away from the threat of irrational federal prosecutions.In a more sensible world, Congress would be rewriting the Controlled Substances Act to reclassify marijuana as the relatively low-risk drug it clearly is. But who’d expect this Congress to do anything so rational?That leaves states to regulate carefully on their own. And a clear challenge for Obama. Here’s a president who’s been bold enough to jump ahead of Congress on issues ranging from gay marriage to amnesty for DREAM Act immigrants. So now, why not smooth the way to marijuana reform when states choose it? Copyright: 2013 Washington Post Writers GroupSource: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Neal Peirce, Syndicated ColumnistPublished: April 27, 2013Copyright: 2013 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis  Archives 
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Comment #3 posted by jetblackchemist on May 02, 2013 at 03:05:56 PT
Why ask permission? The fed is not a parent.
The will of voters is the only important thing... why keep asking the feds or a position? What good is a state government if they can't make decisions based on majority voters? That's how our democratic system works, or at least is supposed too. The president has already stated we wasn't going to get in the battle over states rights with medical. It makes sense that the same applies to voters passing legalization measures. Of course it could be a waiting game; since Obama-care is adding drug treatment programs... and the words spoken is that it should be a public health and treatment issue. That really makes me wonder if that's what is really being waited on?Once treatment is covered with Obama-care the states rights could be challenged and judges sentence people to treatment, in lieu of jail. Further pushing things back into the dark ages, even though they believe it is progressive, when it's not. So what occurs is drug companies can then alter the natural substances and use that as medicine since it really isn't considered marijuana at that point. What was a virtually side effect free natural treatment... now may cause 50 other things worse than whats being treated after the drug companies get their greedy hands on it, like many other things they call medicine.I really hope that that's not what may be in the plans for coming down the pipes in the near future. Allowing a drug company to take a natural plant with a euphoric side effect whats is really considered the bad part of the plant by prohibitionists... stripping it and reformulating it with chemicals for a treatment just to make a buck adding a host of unknown side effects that might even lead to death... is a horrific side effect that arises from such nonsense. That's saying they'd rather poison and kill people for profit and control than allow a basic human right to feel good.I think it's pretty controlling and anti constitutional to tell grown adults what they can and can't put in their own bodies... especially in regards to medicine and a plant whom's "worst" side effect wears off in a 1/2 hour.  Life liberty and the pursuit of happiness... but only if it's on our terms and conditions of what we the government says is OK like some parent; is absolutely ridiculous.Yes, it's understandable that some people do need direction and need to be told rather than find it for them selves or lead the way and need to be led instead because that's what they are comfortable with. But to punish all because some people can't self moderate or handle responsibility... let them learn the lessons they need to the hard way, not ruin it for the rest of us that can make informed choices and handle life as an adult with personal responsibility. The government is not nor will ever be my parent. Public health, public safety... has nothing at all to do with individual freedom and pursuit of happiness, but it has everything to do with the government making choices for you that they constitutionally have no right to.Allowing corporations a monopoly on medicine is not a fair and balanced system of government... where's the choice? Nowhere to be found... make the choice to treat your illness how you see fit and now you're a criminal... when current drug policy is what is really criminal in all of this.My Native American heritage of herbal medicine, was stolen by drug companies... without our pharmacopeia they wouldn't know or understand plants and herbs as much as they do. But among my people medicine was always free... so of course using our freely given knowledge; the snake oil salesmen became drug companies because; hey you can profit off of human suffering... as a society is doesn't get any more abhorrent or savage than that.    
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Comment #2 posted by ekim on April 29, 2013 at 10:11:53 PT
Thank you Willie for all you have done
Dir TV Ch 375 6pm
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on April 29, 2013 at 07:03:59 PT
With wisdom and integrity we are led.
"Marijuana is bad, marijuana is illegal, end of discussion".-William Bennett, Former Drug CzarIt is common knowledge that Bennett is a pathological gambler and liar. I believe he was selected for the this job for these very reasons. He would be dependant on the job for gambling funds and would be easy to control. To look at him you could see that he lived like a gluttonous sloth. Either that or he is the son of the Pillsbury Dough-boy? 
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