Thursday, November 24, 2011

Medical Marijuana Target of U.S. Prosecutors

At New York Times, "Medical Marijuana Industry Is Unnerved by U.S. Crackdown."
UKIAH, Calif. — An intensifying federal crackdown on growers and sellers of state-authorized medical marijuana has badly shaken the billion-dollar industry, which has sprung up in California since voters approved medical use of the drug in 1996, and has highlighted the stark contradiction between federal and state policies.

Federal law classifies the possession and sale of marijuana as a serious crime and does not grant exceptions for medical use, so the programs adopted here, in 15 other states and in the District of Columbia exist in an odd legal limbo. While federal agencies have long targeted Californians who blatantly reap illegal profits in the name of medicine, or who smuggle marijuana across state lines, the Justice Department said in 2009 that it would not normally pursue groups providing marijuana to sick patients, in accordance with state laws.

But in the last several weeks, federal prosecutors have raided or threatened to seize the property of scores of growers and dispensaries in California that, in some cases, are regarded by local officials as law-abiding models. At the same time, the Internal Revenue Service has levied large, disputed tax charges against the state’s largest dispensary, threatening its ability to continue.

In a hint of the simmering federal-state tensions, Kamala D. Harris, the attorney general of California, described in pointed terms the Oct. 7 announcement by four United States attorneys of their tough new campaign against many dispensaries, which they called commercial operations that violate the intent of California law as well as federal statutes.

“It was a unilateral federal action, and it has only increased uncertainty about how Californians can legitimately comply with state law,” Ms. Harris said in an interview. Since federal authorities do not recognize that marijuana can serve medical ends, she said, “they are ill equipped to be the decision makers as to which providers are violating the law.”
Kamala Harris is a blithering idiot. The Feds know exactly what's going on, which is that medical marijuana's a scam. Some patients may benefit, but otherwise the whole agenda is about stealth legalization.

And since I'm on this, I've been meaning to post Melanie Phillips' killer essay, "Drug legalisation? We need it like a hole in the head.

Melanie Phillips provides the essential conservative argument on the legalization debate (and she devastates the case of Portugal, which is widely cited by legalization enthusiasts as the "successful model" of decriminalization). But compare to David Swindle, "Our Deceitful Marxist President’s Cruel War on Sick Medicinal Marijuana Patients." It's a winding piece, but I'm still not convinced pot smoking's not counter-cultural. Or, let's just say that the tea party folks --- who I've been protesting with for over two years --- aren't down with it. But the Occupy folks are: "Zuccotti Utopia: Portraits of The New Revolutionaries." (Also, federalization of drug policy by itself doesn't make a conservative argument on marijuana legalization, and the federal government does indeed have authority to regulate "which of the plants God set growing on this earth" --- it's called the Commerce Clause, which kicks in when drugs and drug-related inputs are bought and sold across state lines. Besides, as I always say, drugs are for losers.)

RELATED: At Los Angeles Times, "L.A. council to debate whether to outlaw medical pot stores."