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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
Ngaio Bealum joins us to discuss the effects of the West Coast medical marijuana crackdown, promoting May 20 Portland Mt. Tabor Theater show; Dave Bienenstock from HIGH TIMES with a preview of the newsstand issue and San Francisco's Medical Cannabis Cup; music by The Effinays
Live report from attorneys Lance Rogers and Michael Cindrich at the San Diego NORML protest of DEA abuse of Daniel Chong; highlights from the DFW NORML Cinco de Mota march; Rant: Debunking No on I-502 Misinformation, Again.
Appeal-Democrat, 05 Jul 2015 - From Yuba County officials' perspective, there is a bit of a domino effect that comes into play when talking about regulating medical marijuana cultivation. The notion is growers were pushed out of Butte County and into Yuba when the former enacted tighter growing regulations and when voters last year
Sacramento News & Review, 02 Jul 2015 - Our Writer Encounters Mavmit, the Department of Fish and Wildlife's Mysterious Anti-Marijuana Task Force After a strange encounter with an agent from the Mountain and Valley Marijuana Investigation Team, our writer asks: If the Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to catch drug dealers, do they know what […]
SF Weekly, 02 Jul 2015 - Four decades ago, activists gathered once a year in front of San Francisco City Hall to agitate for their cause. The highlight of the "Day on the Grass" was a ritual smoke-in, with some of the cannabis that one of them also happened to sell out of a Castro District restaurant. Without fail, and in stark contrast to today […]
North Coast Journal, 02 Jul 2015 - Pot PAC Unveils Its Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance In a trio of bombastic speeches on the Humboldt County Courthouse steps this week, members of California Cannabis Voice Humboldt revealed the final draft of an ordinance that seeks to regulate outdoor marijuana growing in the county.
Sacramento News & Review, 02 Jul 2015 - Hey, Ngaio. Love the column. My son is interested in a job in the weed industry. What jobs are out there for those looking for employment? Can you please roll up a big fat list of jobs and their respective qualifications? I love him a lot and want him to be successful in his search so I thought your column would be […]
Appeal-Democrat, 02 Jul 2015 - Opponents to Yuba County's marijuana cultivation ordinance have filed paperwork with election officials seeking a voter initiative to create a new ordinance. Representatives of a group calling itself the Progressive Business Alliance filed a notice of intent to circulate petitions for an initiative, along with the proposed […]
The Press Democrat, 02 Jul 2015 - State Hearing to Focus on Water Use by Pot Farms McGuire Bill Regulating Medical Pot Clears State Senate SACRAMENTO - A Mendocino County lawman and a former marijuana grower defended small-scale cannabis cultivation Wednesday at a legislative hearing on the impact of the drought and marijuana on North Coast fisheries.
East Bay Express, 01 Jul 2015 - A series of papers in the Journal of the American Medical Association is starting to correct the shameful legacy of drug war politics over cannabis science. But a research catch-22 persists. The nation's top medical organization released a major series of papers on medical cannabis last week in the Journal of the American […]
The Press Democrat, 30 Jun 2015 - The devastating impact of drought and illegal marijuana cultivation on North Coast fisheries will be the focus of a state legislative committee hearing Wednesday in Sacramento, on the heels of reports that pot plants are consuming billions of gallons of water and salmon-rearing creeks are running dry. John Laird, head of Cal […]