HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Feds are busting the wrong 'drug ring'
Pubdate: Wed, 07 Nov 2001
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2001 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Dianne Donovan
Note: Dianne Donovan is a senior editor at the Tribune
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


Whew! Californians can rest easy these days, secure in the knowledge that 
the U.S. Justice Department has mobilized a crack team of enforcers to 
protect them from the danger their midst.

The Bush administration has instructed federal agents in the state to weed 
out a secret society of lawbreakers whose malfeasance is particularly 
insidious because they look so ordinary.

They look like grandmas and promising young men and moms and dads and the 
girl next door. And they look like that because that's who they are.

But the ones the feds are going after are sick. Not like "California 
sickos" (now that would be a project for the government to tackle), but 
sick as in cancerous, as in AIDS-afflicted. Sick as in throwing up after 
every bite, shaking, crying, excruciatingly painful chemo death- wish sick. 
The only thing that relieves their suffering--and there's precious little 
argument on this--is marijuana.

A few puffs can bring blessed relief, it can mean a respite from pain, a 
meal digested.

The problem is that these folks aren't exactly into hanging out on street 
corners trading Cheech and Chong jokes and anteing up for a nickel bag. So 
what they have done is form cooperatives to grow their own stuff or join 
medical marijuana clubs to keep the price down and to keep the sick and the 
dying off the streets.

The whole thing is so wholesome that one club in Los Angeles, providing 
marijuana for 900 patients, is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce. 
Or was--until last month, when federal agents raided the joint.

This was along about the same time they physically uprooted a garden of 
plants owned by patients, like some perverse cross between Carrie Nation 
and Martha Stewart run amok.

So here we are, in the middle of a war against terrorists the government 
can't seem to find, puzzled and scared by a spreading and potentially 
deadly bacteria the government can't seem to stop and reeling from a 
recession the government still is denying.

What's a federal agency to do? Go after dying people smoking pot! Kind of 
makes me wonder if they are looking for a fight they can win.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department told The New York Times that the 
raids in California are proof that "we have not lost our priorities in 
other areas since Sept. 11." Well, that's a relief.

I'd hate to think the most devastating attack on this country in its 
history might have put the medical marijuana raids on the back burner. 
Wonder what's next on the priority list? How about a mass closing of 
homeless shelters that aren't up to code?

Meanwhile, as the feds are busting up medical marijuana groups that are 
legal, even encouraged, in some states, Republicans in the House were able 
to hold the line against federal agents manning security at the nation's 

That would be Big Government. That would be an unwarranted intrusion into 
the private sector.

How much more private can you get than the doctor-patient relationship? How 
much bigger can government get than ordering its agents to run roughshod 
over a state's right to do what it thinks best for the health and 
well-being of its citizens?

And California isn't alone.

Seven other states have legalized medical marijuana; Nevada went so far as 
to say that the state has to make sure patients can obtain the drug. So now 
Nevada is asking the federal government to provide the state with the stash.

What if they'd put that provision in the law legalizing prostitution? It's 
an image I don't wish to entertain.

But talk about coordination: It's now altogether possible that Nevada could 
get its marijuana from, say, the Food and Drug Administration and then the 
Justice Department could go in a confiscate it. Sort of like the CIA and 
the FBI work together now. Oh, and if federal agents are so keen to bust up 
drug rings, I know a few street corners they could hang around in Chicago.
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