Pubdate: Sat, 31 Oct 2009
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2009 San Antonio Express-News


Within the broader debate about whether the war on drugs is worthwhile
or even effective, there's a narrow issue that ought to be beyond
contention. Even those who support an aggressive counter-narcotics
policy should oppose the government devoting its limited resources to
investigate, arrest and prosecute legitimate medicinal marijuana users.

Some scientific studies have shown that marijuana is effective in
treating symptoms associated with cancer, glaucoma and other diseases
as well as alleviating the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy.
Thirteen states have laws that permit some form of production,
purchase and use of marijuana for medical purposes. Texas is not one
of them.

Unfortunately, those laws conflict with Bush-era federal policies for
zero tolerance on marijuana. The enforcement of those policies, aside
from diverting manpower from hardcore traffickers and dangerous drug
users, has resulted in some absurd prosecutions of terminally ill
cancer patients.

The Obama Justice Department has issued new guidelines that restore
some sense to federal drug policy. A new directive from Attorney
General Eric Holder means federal prosecutors will no longer target
patients and providers in states with valid medicinal marijuana laws.

Holder's memorandum makes clear that targeting illicit marijuana
trafficking and use is still a Justice Department priority. The new
guidance on medicinal marijuana is not a first step toward

In any case, it is a rule change, not a law change, one that could be
reversed at any time by this or a future administration. For the
moment, it establishes a much more rational and humane policy on
medicinal marijuana. 
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