Pubdate: Mon, 24 Oct 2011
Source: Gazette, The (Colorado Springs, CO)
Copyright: 2011 The Gazette


It's Not the Federal Government's Issue

In the design of America's founders, the states are supposed to be
centers of democratic experiment. They're not supposed to be uniform.
So it is disturbing to us that the Obama administration has launched a
crackdown on medical marijuana, which is legal in Colorado, 15 other
states and the District of Columbia.

Numerous controversies pit medical marijuana users and dispensaries
against state and local authorities. But overall, things have worked
fairly well. The dire consequences of critics -- of a state lost in a
pot haze -- never happened. The Bush administration, despite cracking
down in many areas of the "war on drugs," never seriously challenged
state medical marijuana laws. There was great hope that Obama would
normalize the matter by formally letting states set their own policies.

In his 2008 campaign, Obama pledged, "I'm not going to be using
Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this
issue." After Obama became president, Deputy Attorney General David W.
Ogden wrote in an Oct. 19, 2009, memo to U.S. attorneys in states that
had legalized medical marijuana, "As a general matter, pursuit of
these priorities should not focus federal resources in your states on
individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with
existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For
example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious
illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen
consistent with applicable state law ... is unlikely to be an
efficient use of limited federal resources."

Why the change? Jeffrey A. Miron, a Cato Institute scholar
specializing in the economics of illegal drugs, said the Obama
administration may be trying to offset its liberal image by "doing
some things on the right," such as cracking down on drugs. "But this
is alienating a lot of people in the middle, the independents."

(Should federal government crack down on medical marijuana. Vote in
poll to the right. Must vote to see results. Thanks)

"We saw this coming," Steve Kubby told us of the tougher stance by the
Obama Justice Department. Kubby was co-author of California's Prop.
215, which legalized medical marijuana in that state, and has used
medical marijuana for more than 25 years to keep in remission an
otherwise fatal form of adrenal cancer. Kubby disputes a 2005 Supreme
Court decision, Gonzales vs. Raich, green-lighting a federal ban on
medical marijuana on the basis of the Constitution's interstate
commerce clause. He cites the 10th Amendment, which stipulates, "The
powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor
prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States
respectively, or to the people."

Just last week, the California Medical Association announced it has
adopted a policy that recommends legalization and regulation of
cannabis. The decision was based on a white paper concluding
physicians should have access to better research, which is not
possible under the current policy. The federal government lists
cannabis as a Schedule I drug. That classification restricts the
research and ability to study the substance. Part of the CMA policy
emphasizes that the drug should be rescheduled in addition to being
legalized. "There simply isn't the scientific evidence to understand
the benefits and risks of medical cannabis," CMA Chairman Paul
Phinney, M.D., said in a statement.

We continue to believe that legalization of medical marijuana is good
medicine, and should remain a matter for states to resolve. Along with
opium and other strong drugs that already are legal with a
prescription, it should be part of a physician's medicine chest to
treat patients.

The Obama administration should return to its original stance of
noninterference in state medical marijuana policies. It should
concentrate on the deficit, debt, high unemployment and the need to
extract us from war. We'd also like to hear what the Republican
presidential candidates would do on this issue. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.