It doesn’t seem accurate to say that any of really voted for him based solely on his promise to change marijuana policy, or that most of America thinks that should be one of his top priorities. Still it’s important for the pot community to not let the marijuana movement loose any momentum. Obama you can’t leave us hanging we’re dying out here. Some of more literally than others.
SFWeekly – That familiar odor wafting from San Francisco street corners, storefronts, and the neighborhood growhouse? It’s the smell of legality. Medical cannabis is the law of the land in California, 14 other states, and the District of Columbia. Yet, as many marijuana users will tell you, protection under state law hasn’t guaranteed protection under federal law at all.
It was more obvious under the George W. Bush administration, which pledged to “ignore” state medical marijuana laws and go after marijuana users. For eight years, the federal government “subverted” the will of the states, according to the ACLU, and in the process ignored the Constitution’s guarantees of state sovereignty, as many a pot user has tried to argue in court.
So when Barack Obama’s new administration delivered a message on medical marijuana in February 2009, it was heard loud and clear: The federal government was getting out of the business of busting pot in California and other states where voters had approved medicinal application of the plant. Obama the candidate promised as much during the campaign, and now the new attorney general, Eric Holder, had made it so by issuing guidelines protecting those following state law. Federal policy on medical marijuana had changed.
For that campaign promise — and for pledges to end the Iraq war and reform health care — Obama won many votes from San Franciscans, including people like the 30 medical cannabis users gathered at a former brothel on Mission Street on a recent evening. The low- and no-income folk who constitute the patient advocacy and activist network Axis of Love cannot use their Medicare and Medi-Cal benefits to buy their preferred tonic — federal law makes it thus — and so they must rely on the charity of a few San Francisco cannabis dispensaries for their medicine. Pot and meals are dispensed daily, free of charge, under the supervision of activist Shona Gochenaur. “Obama got a ton of votes from our community,” she says, “for the many campaign promises he made that things would change.”
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Categories: Health, Lifestyle, Marijuana Tags: Article Excerpt, Barack Obama, Blowing Smoke, Campaign Promise, Eric Holder, George W Bush, Land In California, Marijuana Movement, Marijuana Policy, Marijuana Users, Medical Cannabis, Medical Marijuana Laws, New Administration, Pot User, Reform Health Care, San Franciscans, State Sovereignty, Storefronts, Street Corners, Top Priorities
It was just three years ago when President Obama (then candidate Obama) famously pledged to no longer use federal “Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws” regulating the physician authorized use of medical cannabis. And it was in the fall of 2009 that the administration issued the Ogden memorandum to federal prosecutors directing them to not “focus federal resources … on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”
Yet in recent days the administration has seen fit to interject itself in the ongoing legislative debate to establish and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state. Last week, on the eve of a final House vote regarding Senate Bill 5073, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington issued a statement warning landlords that they could face forfeiture of their properties if they rent to licensed medical marijuana facilities. Undeterred, the House passed SB 5073 (the Senate had previously passed an earlier version of the bill), setting up a potential showdown between lawmakers and Democrat Gov. Chris Gregoire.
In an April 14, 2011 letter to Gov. Gregoire from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorneys Jenny Durkan of Seattle and Michael Ormsby of Spokane wrote, “[W]e maintain the authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act vigorously against individuals and manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law.”
The letter continues: “The Washington legislative proposals will create a licensing scheme that permits large-scale marijuana cultivation and distribution. This would authorize conduct contrary to federal law. … Accordingly, the Department [of Justice] could consider civil and criminal legal remedies who set up marijuana growing facilities … or who knowingly facilitate the actions of the licensees. … [S]tate employees who conducted activities mandated by the Washington legislative proposals would not be immune from liability under the Controlled Substances Act.”
Predictably, Gov. Gregoire is now shying away from the proposal. As reported by the Seattle Times, the Governor stated “In light of the Department of Justice’s guidance, it is clear that I cannot sign a bill that authorizes our state employees to license marijuana dispensaries when the department would prosecute those involved.” The Times noted that Gregoire “pledged to work with lawmakers on a new proposal.”
Is the Governor using the Feds’ letter as political cover to denounce a measure that she never intended to sign in the first place? Maybe. But the bigger picture is that the federal officials still seem content to selectively interject in the state lawmaking process as it pertains to the medical access to marijuana.
Will the Feds most recent threats have a potential chilling effect on pending legislation in Delaware, Illinois, and Vermont — additional states where lawmakers recently voted in favor of establishing similar state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries? And what, if anything, do these threats imply for states like Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, and Rhode Island where such facilities have already been authorized by the state? Time will tell, but at present time it’s not looking good.
‘Change we can believe in?’ Not when it comes to medical marijuana policy.
Categories: Health, Lifestyle, Marijuana Tags: Chris Gregoire, Controlled Substances, Department Resources, Distribution Activity, Federal Prosecutors, Federal Resources, Forfeiture, Jenny Durkan, Legislative Debate, Legislative Proposals, Marijuana Cultivation, Marijuana Growing, Medical Cannabis, Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, Medical Marijuana Laws, Medical Use Of Marijuana, Ormsby, Senate Bill, U S Department, Use Of Marijuana
Regulations have been finalized to allow for the sanctioned-use and dispensing of medical cannabis in two more regions of the country: Arizona and in the nation’s capitol, Washington, DC.
In Arizona, representatives from the Arizona Department of Health Services have approved rules governing the state’s soon-to-be-implemented Arizona Medical Marijuana Program. Voters directed the state to approve regulations regarding the use and distribution of medicinal marijuana in November when they decided in favor of Proposition 203 — making Arizona the fifteenth state since 1996 to legalize the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Program rules, physician certification forms, and answers to frequently asked questions are all available online from the Arizona Department of Health Services here.
Arizona patients may begin qualifying for the program next week, and dispensary applications will be accepted beginning June 1. All patients initially approved by the state will have the option to cultivate their own marijuana. However, patients who reside within 25 miles of a state-licensed dispensary will lose this option once such facilities are up and running later this fall.
In the District of Columbia, city leaders have finally signed off on long-awaited rules regulating patients’ use and access to cannabis. Those rules are expected to take effect April 15. The just-finalized regulations will permit D.C. officials to allow as many as ten cultivation centers and five dispensaries in the District. Permit applications are anticipated to be available by April 17.
The forthcoming rules implement facets of I-59, the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative, a 1998 municipal ballot measure which garnered 69 percent of the vote yet was never implemented. Under the new regulations, qualifying D.C. patients will be able to obtain medical cannabis at licensed dispensaries, but will not be permitted under the law to grow their own medicine.
Washington DC’s forthcoming program is limited to residents of the District of Columbia and is not reflective of any broader change in federal policy.
Additional information on these and other state medical marijuana programs is available from the NORML website here.
Categories: Health, Lifestyle, Marijuana Tags: Arizona Department Of Health Services, Ballot Measure, City Leaders, Columbia City, Department Of Health Services, Dispensaries, Dispensary, District Of Columbia, Fifteenth State, Legalization Marijuana, Legalization Of Marijuana, Marijuana Medical, Medical Cannabis, Medical Marijuana Program, Medical Marijuana Rules, Medicinal Marijuana, Municipal Ballot, Permit Applications, Physician Certification, Treatment Initiative
Peter Davy, a medical cannabis patient in New Zealand who suffers from cancer, deserves compassion and should not be sent to prison as a judge has threatened, according to activist group Greencross Auckland.Davy, 51, who lives in Canterbury, New Zealand, has vowed to go on hunger strike if sentenced to prison.”I want to make it clear that I will be going on a hunger strike the moment I am given a prison sentence and I absolutely do not want to be force fed under any circumstances,” Davy said. “I will also be refusing all cancer medication. I am 100 percent committed to continuing with a hunger strike until I am dead.”"Here is a man capable of managing his own pain using medicinal cannabis while at the same time caring for a partner with multiple sclerosis,” said Greencross Auckland spokesman Stephen McIntyre.”My partner has advanced multiple sclerosis and I am her 24-hour caregiver,” Davy said. “She is dying and will die without me.”
Categories: Health, Lifestyle, Marijuana Tags: 24 Hour, Activist Group, Auckland, Cancer Medication, Cannabis Patient, Canterbury New Zealand, Circumstances, Compassion, Force Fed, Hunger Strike, Medical Cannabis, Medication, Medicinal Cannabis, Multiple Sclerosis, Partner, Prison Sentence, Spokesman, Stephen Mcintyre
12 Noon, April 19, State Capitol in Olympia, WAIn answer to Gov. Christine Gregoire’s stated reluctance to sign SB 5073, the medical cannabis reform bill which has already cleared both houses of the Legislature, the Washington Cannabis Association and other advocates for medical marijuana reform will hold a rally at 12 noon on Tuesday, April 19 at the State Capitol in Olympia, Washington.”It’s time for the Governor to stop listening to the feds and begin listening to the people of this state who overwhelmingly approved medical cannabis by initiative in 1998,” said Philip Dawdy, WCA’s media and policy director.
Categories: Health, Lifestyle, Marijuana Tags: Advocates, Cannabis Reform, Christine Gregoire, Feds, Initiative, Marijuana Reform, Medical Cannabis, Medical Marijuana, Olympia, Olympia Washington, People, Philip Dawdy, Policy Director, Rally, Reluctance, S Media, State Capitol, Wain, Washington State Capitol, Wca