Pubdate: Mon, 24 Oct 2011 Source: Gazette, The (Colorado Springs, CO) Copyright: 2011 The Gazette Contact: http://www.gazette.com/sections/opinion/submitletter/ Website: http://www.gazette.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/165 LAY OFF COLORADO'S MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW (POLL) 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. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.