By Jeremiah Vandermeer The Government of Canada will appeal an Ontario court’s ruling that struck down the country’s marijuana laws as unconstitutional. Matt Mernagh, the med-pot user at the center of a historic court battle over the country’s medical marijuana laws, says he has been served his notice of appeal in the case. “I received a phone call from the Crown prosecutor today,” Mernagh told Cannabis Culture earlier this afternoon. “He offered [Click Here To Continue Reading]
Categories: Health, Lifestyle, Marijuana Tags: Canada Ontario, Canadian Government, Crown Prosecutor, Government Canada, Government Of Canada, Government Ontario, Jeremiah, Medical Marijuana Laws, Notice Of Appeal, Ontario Court, Phone Call, Pot User, Vandermeer
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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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