How Will Feds React if Washington Voters Pass I-502?
Washington voters will go to the polls In November to vote on a measure that would legalize and regulate marijuana for adults – I-502. If it passes, how will the federal government react?
Some say it will depend on who is elected President, but will it? Don’t President Obama and Mitt Romney seem to have similar views about medical marijuana being illegal under federal law?
What if Obama wins, which looks likely as of now? Would the Obama administration pick a legal fight over states' rights to try to block Initiative 502? Would federal prosecutors charge marijuana growers and retailers, even if they are authorized by state law?
Or would — as some opponents and supporters predict — federal authorities denounce the law but largely leave Washington alone? What would President Obama have to gain from continuing his crackdown into a second term, and even expanding it?
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, an I-502 supporter who talks often with federal authorities, thinks the Justice Department would back off after "a long, intense, fairly high-level conversation" with campaign and state officials.
"In the end, I think the feds will go with the will of the voters," said Holmes.
I-502 itself would legalize one ounce of marijuana for people 21 and older, and creates a seed-to-store, closed, state-regulated monopoly estimated to raise more than $560 million in new taxes. It would also create a new, non-science based DUI standard for driving under the influence of marijuana that some advocates fear is simply another way to criminalize marijuana use.
According to a state fiscal analysis, I-502 would result in as many state pot stores — 328 — as there are state liquor stores, with 363,000 customers consuming 85 metric tons of pot, all of which would have to be grown in Washington state. An economic boon to say the least.
Medical Marijuana and Teens
Medical marijuana advocates hear it all the time from our opponents: medical marijuana leads to more teen use and easier access to marijuana for teens. Let’s tackle the logic of this argument, yet again, in a minute. But first let us discuss where this opinion comes from.
To believe the increased legality of something leads to increased availability for those who are underage is to assume that something being illegal makes it less likely that a teen will get a hold of it in the first place. This is simply not borne out by common sense or history.
Marijuana use continues to go up, despite federal prohibition and continued prohibition in most states (including recreational prohibition in every state). Marijuana is more available now than it has ever been, despite decades of law enforcement raids and the arrest of 800,000 people every year in the U.S. for marijuana offenses.
To believe legalizing marijuana in any form will lead to increased availability for teens is to believe that prohibition works. And if you believe that, I own a bridge in New York City that I will sell to you cheap.
There is no way legalizing marijuana will lead to it being more available to teens than it is right now in the black market. DRUG DEALERS DO NOT CHECK I.D. But places like liquor stores do.
“I think we’re going to be sacrificing the mental health of our young people if we pass this law,” said Dr. John Knight, director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research, about Question 3, the measure to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Massachusetts.
This man obviously has a lot of formal education, but where is his common sense? Is it that people like him are completely unaware of how easy it is for gets to get marijuana and hard drugs on the street? Do they not know how much easier it is for a teen to get a joint than a bottle of Jack Daniels?
If you claim to want marijuana to be less available to teens, keeping it illegal and unregulated is the most illogical position you could take short of favoring passing out free joints at school like condoms.
Why Medical Marijuana Patients Protested Obama Campaign Headquarters Nationwide
The Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (http://safeaccessnow.org) – Steph Sherer – wrote an op-ed in The Huffington Post yesterday on why advocates felt the need to hold a nationwide protest of President Obama’s medical marijuana policy on Thursday, September 20th.
“My organization,” she writes, “Americans for Safe Access, has been engaging voters since July with our Camp WakeUpObama campaign, helping to give a voice to patients and their families. Today campers mark the end of summer with nationwide rallies outside of Obama's campaign offices, because we're not being invited inside. Things would be different if the President would apply his campaign slogan, "Forward," to our cause: stopping the raids and prosecutions of state-permitted institutions, and moving public health policy forward by ending the conflict between state and federal law.
“I can't ignore the fact that many responses to Camp WakeUpObama have been critical and to those of you who disapprove I ask, what else are patients supposed to do? In asking President Obama to fulfill his stated policy of respecting state compassionate use laws, we are not asking him to do anything unpopular: 80% of Americans support safe access to medical cannabis, 74% are against the stepped-up raids and prosecutions and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is polling at 7% in Colorado campaigning on this issue. Even two-thirds of Republicans support state medical cannabis laws. With the public on our side, why should patients and our loved ones be silent?
“Camp WakeUpObama is not about encouraging people to vote for Romney or any other challenger, but about expressing our own points of view. When I wrote during the Democratic National Convention that pro-marijuana candidate Gary Johnson's poll numbers could make him a spoiler in the crucial swing state of Colorado, I wasn't criticizing third-party supporters, I was showing Democrats the proof that their standard-bearer's wrong-headed cannabis crackdown is costing the party votes. I never thought that Mitt Romney's campaign would be emailing reporters our talking points or that his vice-presidential nominee would publicly support state decisions on marijuana law. Though a lot has happened in the past few months, it's not too late for Obama to seize the issue.”
Will Obama seize the issue, or will he wait until after his likely reelection to do anything about stopping the crackdown? Or will he continue on as he is now?
Students at Boston University on Legalizing Medical Marijuana
On November 6, Massachusetts' residents will vote on a ballot initiative that would legalize medical marijuana. The measure would allow people with glaucoma and chronic illnesses that cause severe pain to buy marijuana with a doctor's written recommendation, at designated dispensaries.
With the election just weeks away, this week's "YouSpeak" asked Boston University students: Should medical marijuana be legalized?
Every student said yes, although many qualified their answers to include a well-regulated system with good oversight. This is obviously a small sample of the student body at BU, but you’ll notice not one person said, “oh no, we can’t have that, it will send the wrong message to kids, there is already medicine on the market for these ailments,” etc.
Younger generations don’t look at medical marijuana as something that is evil, but as something that can be very helpful if it’s done right. The stigma attached to marijuana, even medicinal marijuana, is recognized mainly by those who were born before the hippie generation that came of age in the 1960’s. Those born after don’t see a stigma, they tend to see more of an opportunity to be compassionate.
It’s up to the younger generations to vote.
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The "Recreational" Component to Medical Marijuana
Arizona’s medical marijuana program will have stronger controls than other states, but some people will still exploit it to get the drug for recreational use, the state’s top health official said Wednesday.
“Is there a recreational component to the program? Absolutely, yes. Have we done everything we could to stretch our statutory authority to keep it as medical as possible? We have done that,” Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Humble opposed the medical marijuana proposition, but once it passed, he said it was his job to execute the will of voters.
“Obviously there’s a conflict with the Controlled Substances Act at the federal level,” Humble added. “I’m certain at some point this will end up in front of the Supreme Court.”
He went on to belittle the effect medical marijuana will have, expressing his wish that the resources devoted to it would go to other health issues. “In medical marijuana, the payoff was not profound,” Humble said.
I’m sure the people who have chosen cannabis as a safer and more effective alternative to dangerous and addictive prescription drugs would disagree.
Beyond that is this notion that recreational users getting their hands on some legal medical marijuana will somehow lead to a collapse of the system, or worse. Even if 10,000 recreational users get it and only one “real” patient is helped, then it is worth it. It’s not like the recreational users are costing the state money; they pay the same taxes and fees as everyone else for the privilege of participating in the program.
It all goes back to the belief that marijuana is a drug that can be abused instead of a plant that should be used by adults with no consequences as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of someone else.
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