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Chaotic and Contradictory Marijuana Laws for Medical Marijuana Patients
The local, state and federal laws regulating medical marijuana in California grew even hazier with the Obama administration’s recent memo that threatened to prosecute anyone in the business of growing or supplying pot to patients.
The memo represented a significant departure from its sensible October 2009 guidelines that essentially assured dispensaries and patients that the federal government was not interested in going after operations that complied with state law.
Now the clinics are put in the untenable position of wondering whether the next knock on the door might be from federal agents.
The state of the law could not be more chaotic and contradictory. Marijuana remains classified as an illegal drug under federal law, period. California voters sanctioned the use of marijuana for medical purposes in 1996, but the state has all but looked the other way about where and how those dispensaries have been obtaining bulk quantities of the drug. The voter-approved initiative offered little guidance – other than expressly allowing cultivation for personal use – and elected leaders in Sacramento have largely avoided the supply question.
Some cities, notably Oakland, have tried to fill the void by legalizing large-scale indoor growing operations – but backed off when the U.S. attorney warned that it would be in violation of state and federal law.
Meanwhile, dispensaries have proliferated in many cities, classified ads for friendly doctors are abundant, and patient ID cards are not much more difficult to obtain than a box of Sudafed. Personal possession of less than an ounce of marijuana without a doctor’s recommendation has been reduced to an infraction, with a $100 fine.
California voters wisely rejected Prop. 19 last year, which would have legalized marijuana without sufficient controls and restraints. It would have made no sense to replace one form of chaos with another – and almost certainly would have attracted an aggressive federal response.
The feds are raising fair questions about whether a see-no-evil approach to the growing and supply chain has allowed cartels and other crime operations to exploit the lax oversight.
Perhaps the feds might be more willing to defer to state laws if they were more structured and realistic. But that would require a level of leadership that has been missing on this issue at the state level over the past 15 years.
"The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this." Albert Einstein, "My First Impression of the USA," 1921
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Press-Enterprise, 01 Nov 2016 - There are only a few days left before voters' last chance to stop California's spiraling plunge into the marijuana morass now plaguing several states by voting no on Prop. 64. Supporters point out that responsible people can use marijuana without ill effect while ignoring it's the irresponsible that pose the thr […]
The Chico News & Review, 27 Oct 2016 - I was pleased to read the CN&R's endorsement of Prop. 64, legalizing cannabis (marijuana). While polls predicting election results regarding cannabis seem to indicate it will pass, one poll is spot-on that voters can count on. In Colorado, every subsequent poll indicates citizens continue supporting the end […]
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The Press Democrat, 06 Sep 2016 - EDITOR: Thank you so much for the informative and appreciated column by Paul Gullixson in Sunday's Press Democrat ("Do we really want to become the mecca for marijuana?"). I too think Santa Rosa getting on the "weed train" is a terrible mistake, and I'm ashamed of our city leaders wanting to get […]
The Orange County Register, 05 Sep 2016 - Re "DEA marijuana reclassification behind schedule" [Opinion, Sept. 2]: Being screwed by the Drug Enforcement Agency is sort of like being stung by a scorpion. The scorpion can't really be blamed too much for its actions since its mindless and predictable behavior is largely motivated by instincts. Wit […]
The Press Democrat, 04 Sep 2016 - EDITOR: Thank you for Paul Gullixson's astute editorial on Santa Rosa's marijuana mecca ("Do we really want to become the mecca for marijuana?" Aug. 28). I had begun to think The Press Democrat was promoting legalization with the three headline stories in August, so it is refreshing to read Gullixson […]
Chico Enterprise-Record, 04 Sep 2016 - It's 2017. A little boy is walking down a street in downtown Chico with his grandmother. The little boy looks up and ask, : "Grandma, what's that smell?" Grandma looks down and replies, "That's the smell of marijuana growing in back yards throughout the city. Smells like skunks doesn't […]