Pubdate: Fri, 04 Dec 2015
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2015 Albuquerque Journal


In theory, law enforcement should be implemented in a fair, 
across-the-board manner. In practice in southern New Mexico, it has 
made state-sanctioned medical marijuana patients legal victims of 
their geography.

Get your medical pot prescription filled in Albuquerque or Santa Fe 
and, unless you are a very bad and very unlucky driver, you won't 
encounter a police officer. And if you do, it's highly unlikely you 
would be charged with drug possession over your prescription bottle 
with the bud in it. Get it filled in Las Cruces and head home via 
Interstates 10 or 25 to your smaller city or town that lacks a 
dispensary and your route home likely takes you through a U.S. Border 
Patrol checkpoint.

Agents at the checkpoints apparently didn't get the memo on the 
amendment in last year's federal spending bill that bans the use of 
federal funds to enforce laws that interfere with the implementation 
of "state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or 
cultivation of medical marijuana."

So New Mexicans like 50-year-old Raymundo Marrufo of Deming face 
potential felony charges and confiscation of their medication every 
time they drive through. Marrufo says in a complaint to the federal 
court that, if he's asked if he is carrying illegal drugs - and under 
federal law pot is still illegal - answering "yes" could mean a 
federal indictment for drug smuggling and "no" could mean a 
prosecution for lying to a federal agent.

So Marrufo would like the court to tell border agents to "cease 
questioning U.S. citizens regarding medical cannabis in any states 
where the use of medical cannabis has been approved."

In a state where border agents seized more than 2.4 million pounds of 
marijuana in fiscal 2013, a don't-ask-don't-tell pot policy is a step 
in the wrong direction. Agents should ask the question about illegal 
drugs and, barring a truckload of weed, or bundles taped to the 
engine compartment or undercarriage or shoved in the gas tank, a 
"yes" answer accompanied by a state medical pot patient card should 
be enough to comply with the federal order, call off the drugsniffing 
dog and get the patient back on the highway.

A Border Patrol spokesman says the "checkpoints are a critical 
enforcement tool for carrying out the mission of securing our 
nation's borders against transnational threats."

That's exactly what agents should be focused on - not New Mexicans 
with state and physician permission to purchase and possess medical 
marijuana to alleviate the symptoms and treatment side effects for 
debilitating diseases and conditions, including cancer, HIV and 
multiple sclerosis.
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