Pubdate: Mon, 04 Mar 2013
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2013 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation


The following is from an editorial in the Los Angeles Times:

Political movements like the tea party may come and go, but the pot
party seems to get stronger with every national election, putting the
federal government in an increasingly untenable position.

To date, more than one-third of the states and the District of
Columbia have legalized marijuana, at least for medical purposes, and,
according to Americans for Safe Access, eight other states are
considering bills to do the same. As a result, we're getting close to
the point where half the country will have legalized a drug designated
a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the federal government, meaning
it has no known medical uses and is as dangerous as heroin.

This has been an overly restrictive classification since it was
imposed in 1970, yet what's remarkable about the anti-prohibition
movement is that it still hasn't prompted the government to reconsider
its stance. A bill in Congress would do just that, but it also points
out that there's a right way and a wrong way to proceed.

The bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., is the wrong way.
It requires that marijuana be reclassified as no higher than a
Schedule 3 controlled substance, making it similar to most other
prescription drugs. But it leaves oversight to the states.

Although other drugs are controlled by the Drug Enforcement
Administration and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration,
marijuana would be a class unto itself: The bill exempts marijuana
from control by these agencies, allowing any state to legalize it and
come up with its own regulatory framework for producing and
distributing it. When it comes to licensure, quality control, testing,
enforcement of distribution laws and so on, the states would be on
their own.

We've already seen where that road leads. California's experiment with
medical marijuana has been a regulatory nightmare, in part because of
confusion and conflict with federal law, but also because coming up
with a new regulatory framework for a drug whose medical value is
uncertain is difficult and expensive.

Who's to say whether the marijuana sold at the corner dispensary is
uncontaminated, or has no harmful side effects, or really contains
active ingredients in the amount the seller claims, or will really
cure what ails you?

Regulatory failures have made it all too easy for recreational pot
smokers to get their hands on the drug, even though that's not what
California voters intended when they legalized medical marijuana in
1996. What we'd like to see is federal legislation that would treat
marijuana like an ordinary prescription drug, complete with FDA
oversight. Anything less would probably just add to the confusion and
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