Thursday, September 06, 2007

Medical marijuana victory

We go back and forth on the medical marijuana front. It seems pretty apparent now that the DEA is on a concerted mission to undermine and in effect nullify the laws of states that have passed maedical marijuana.

No opponent of medical marijuana has won a court battle to declare that federal "supremacy" prevents states from passing medical marijuana laws (or, presumably, full legalization if one wanted to do that (I was in the Supreme Court chambers when the government attorney affirmed that they weren't invoking supremacy in the Oakland Cannabis Cooperative case). But in the Gonzales v. Raich case, the high court str-e-e-e-t-c-h-ed the interstate commerce clause to cover medical marijuana produced and used exclusively in California with no money changing hands to declare that federal prohibition laws covered it, giving the DEA authority t0 go after patients or providers.

In California, of course, the DEA has been going after medical dispensaries with a vengeance and threatening landlords that they could have their property forfeited and be charged as accessories to federal crimes if they didn't evict dispensaries in L.A. county. And even though, right after the Raich decision a DEA spokeswoman said "We don't go after sick and dying people," in New Mexico, which just passed a law, they have done just that, arresting a patient. Suprised that a federal agent would lie?

In Oregon, however, they've been turned back slightly. A federal grand jury in Washington state subpoenaed medical records of 17 patients (presumably lawyers and grand jurors know better then mere doctors about acceptable medical uses?). But this week a federal judge quashed the subpoena, noting that Oregan's law, passed in 1998, calls for complete protection of patient privacy. (The linked story, by the way, is incorrect about the feds prosecuting doctors in California; an earlier federal court decision barred them from that.)

I'll take any victory I see, and be grateful there are some decent federal judges. We'll win eventually, however, by sheer numbers rather than in court. Even though the DEA closed and threatened a bunch of L.A. dispensaries, dozens are still open, and the DEA just doesn't have the resources to go after all of them, and the medical marijuana movement is simply not going away..

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