Lots of medical marijuana news recently. Here’s a recap:
– Andy Hobbs writes in the Federal Way Mirror about the shortcomings of our state’s medical marijuana law along with the situation that patients and providers find themselves in as a result. There will be a part 2 posted later. UDPATE: Here’s part 2.
– The Tri-Cities Herald printed an interesting editorial suggesting that the way to solve Washington’s medical marijuana supply problems is to have the police supply patients with marijuana confiscated through drug raids. As Russ Belville points out, this is not a new idea, and it’s one that has been rejected by police agencies. It’s also not a very good idea in the first place. Medical marijuana patients should be getting marijuana that’s being grown by people who know what they’re doing, not from the police evidence locker where they can’t verify the age, purity, strain, etc.
The main obstacle to states establishing these kinds of distribution systems has been the federal government. That’s the reason why California’s loosely regulated system of dispensaries had been so loosely regulated. If a city or county documented a bunch of information about their operations, the DEA would simply obtain those records and shut down the operation. Any state that tried too hard to set up their own system put themselves in a position where the DEA and DOJ could quickly dismantle it.
But the entire dynamic may be changing. Attorney General Holder reiterated that the Obama Administration intends to respect state laws on medical marijuana, meaning that states should be free to establish their own systems for growing and distributing marijuana to patients without federal interference. New Mexico has been at the forefront of this, trying since 2007 to establish state authorized providers. Even with those reassurances from the Obama Administration, the initial state-authorized dispensary in Santa Fe was nervous about being named in news reports for fear that the DEA will move to shut them down.
– In Rhode Island this week, their state Senate voted 30-2 to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries. The answer to the dilemma raised in the Herald editorial is to move in the same direction as Rhode Island and New Mexico and establish more secure avenues for allowing medical marijuana patients to obtain their medicine from state-approved growers who grow specifically for patients. That the Rhode Island legislature can vote nearly unanimously to move in this direction while the Washington legislature is doing absolutely nothing about our clearly broken system just re-emphasizes the fact that we have a testicular deficiency in Olympia.
– UCLA-based anti-drug researcher Dr. Donald Tashkin now supports the legalization of marijuana. Tashkin is most well-known for conducting a study funded by the National Institute of Health, where he hypothesized that there’d be a definitive link between marijuana smoking and lung cancer, but discovered that there was “no association and even a suggestion of some protective effect”. Caren Woodson from Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group in California, writes about some recent studies done on the use of marijuana for alleviating the pain associated with HIV/AIDS.
– Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed what would have been the most restrictive state medical marijuana law in the country. The legislature approved the bill after hearing some compelling testimony from patients and relatives. It’s been speculated that Pawlenty’s decision was made with an eye for a Presidential run in 2012, but it’s not entirely clear that vetoing the bill was the smarter move when nearly 3/4 of the American public supports medical marijuana laws. Instead, it may be a good indication of how detached the groupthink of the Republican leadership is from the reality of what the average American cares about.
– California dispensary operator Charles Lynch was sentenced to a year in prison. Many had hoped that since dispensary owners like Lynch are no longer being targeted under the Obama Administration that they’d support Judge George Wu’s request for leniency from the mandatory minimum sentencing restrictions.