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May 9, 2011 2:48 AM   Subscribe

Contrary to the liberalism many read in a highly-publicized DOJ memo in 2009, federal authorities are cracking down on medical marijuana establishments that exist in the gray area between state and national statutes.
posted by clarknova (35 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here in Denver, it's seems like the MMJ thing was nothing but a get-rich-quick scam by the local government. They gave far too many permits for people to open MMJ businesses and then made it entirely impossible to keep the businesses open, as the rules constantly changed on how you need to run one. Businesses are failing left and right ,which doesn't help the people who started them in good faith.

The whole, "medical" part of MMJ seems so ridiculous, as it's easy to go to a shady doctor with any ailment at all - writer's block is enough and get a card to then get your MMJ. Just another way taxes are levied on the consumer. I'm sure there's plausible cases for using it as medicine but I can't stop rolling my eyes at what everyone else - and I would say the majority of people want to use it for and all the loopholes that they need to go through to get it legally.

I'm not a pot smoker, I don't think it should be illegal, but I don't think the government should dick around people trying to open up a business to have it available and I really don't think the whole charade of making it, "medicine" is really needed. People want it to get STONED and I say, good for them.

Unless their the state government's idea all along was to make it legal but impossible to sustain a legal business, to crash the market itself and drive down the prices so it's not even profitable to grow or sell and screw around a bunch of potheads and make a few million dollars in the process.

Growers and dispensaries are completely freaking out. They're selling their goods how they've always sold them, under the radar and, "illegally". There's just no other way to keep in business. Good job, Denver.
posted by alex_skazat at 3:07 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just a thought. Obama's crew was really aggressive about defending DADT from any challenges to its Constitutionality through the courts. One prevalent theory is that this was done to push the repeal of DADT through Congress. Perhaps the idea is the same here, so that he can take credit when MJ is one day theoretically legalized by the legislative branch.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:26 AM on May 9, 2011


I've never much liked the whole medical marijuana thing because (a) it's like saying "we're decriminalizing marijuana only for people willing to lie", (b) it facilitates forming an addiction exploiting Big Marijuana monopoly, and (c) it'll eventually lead into regulatory capture by Big Marijuana.

You should first legalize small scale production for personal use, ala many European countries. You then wait several years for a personal growing culture to emerge before legalizing facilitated personal production, ala Spanish growing coops. You then wait several more years for these growing coops to dominate production before finally legalizing small scale commercial production.

You should keep importation illegal beyond quantities suitable for personal use. You might permit larger scale importation from Jamaica based upon religious grounds.

You should only push recreational drug production into the hands of monopolists and regulators when, like distilled alcohol, the home brews often produce toxic byproducts.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:29 AM on May 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


There is no reason that marijuana couldn't be moved to schedule 2. Just like for amphetamines. Regulate the packaging, labeling and producers like you do for alcohol.
posted by humanfont at 3:33 AM on May 9, 2011


It should be noted that the feds do not have anywhere near enough manpower to enforce drug prohibition against individual users. Right now, the states do nearly all of the work when it comes to street-level distribution and individual drug users.

If the states stop enforcing some drug laws, the feds can't just step in and do it themselves. Legally they can, but in terms of manpower, the numbers just don't work. There aren't enough DEA agents, federal judges, and federal prisons to take on that kind of enforcement. Nationwide, the DEA only has about 5,500 agents, which puts it at about half the size of the Los Angeles Police Department.

State-licensed dispensaries provide the feds with centralized targets for prosecution. They're large enough to make splashy headlines and of course they're easy to locate without doing any actual police work. The feds should be careful, though. Once they drive the dispensaries out of business, once medical marijuana moves out of the storefronts, the feds won't have the resources to keep up prosecutions.
posted by ryanrs at 3:45 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


You should first legalize small scale production for personal use.

But "growing your own" a lot of work, especially if you need to maintain a steady uninterrupted supply. Consider that these state laws were ostensibly created to help very sick people, e.g. people undergoing chemotherapy. Those patients are the most likely to be deprived by restrictions in supply.
posted by ryanrs at 3:59 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


it's seems like the MMJ thing was nothing but a get-rich-quick scam by the local government.

...

Just another way taxes are levied on the consumer.

...

make a few million dollars in the process.

...

(b) it facilitates forming an addiction exploiting Big Marijuana monopoly, and (c) it'll eventually lead into regulatory capture by Big Marijuana.

This really should have been expected, as one of legalization's most oft-repeated arguments is how much money the gov't could be making on taxes. If you make something attractive to the greedy, the greedy will show up.
posted by DU at 4:22 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


medical marijuana establishments that exist in the gray area between state and national statutes.

Since when is this a "gray area"?
posted by valkyryn at 5:30 AM on May 9, 2011


Since that 2009 memo from the DOJ, I suppose.
posted by ryanrs at 5:37 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I worked for a voip company, we signed up a guy that ran a pot dispensary in montana. The guy was a nightmare to work with, and would call people bitches, assholes and motherfuckers pretty much all the time. It got to the point where we just stop taking his money and told him to find another voice provider. He eventually got arrested for threatening to bomb Verizon. I'm not making this up.
posted by empath at 5:52 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


OTOH, Verizon are dicks.
posted by ryanrs at 6:02 AM on May 9, 2011 [17 favorites]


When I worked for a voip company, we signed up a guy that ran a pot dispensary in montana. The guy was a nightmare to work with, and would call people bitches, assholes and motherfuckers pretty much all the time. It got to the point where we just stop taking his money and told him to find another voice provider. He eventually got arrested for threatening to bomb Verizon. I'm not making this up.
posted by empath at 5:52 AM on May 9 [+] [!]


I'm convinced, lets kill all drug users right now.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 6:06 AM on May 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


"It's not a war on drugs, it's a war on personal freedom... keep that in mind at all times." -Bill Hicks
posted by notion at 6:20 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


My country tis of thee
Sweet land of hypocracy
posted by Goofyy at 6:41 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just a thought. Obama's crew was really aggressive about defending DADT from any challenges to its Constitutionality through the courts. One prevalent theory is that this was done to push the repeal of DADT through Congress. Perhaps the idea is the same here, so that he can take credit when MJ is one day theoretically legalized by the legislative branch.
No way is that going to happen during his presidency. Some states might be for it but it won't happen in congress for a long time. Only way legalization could happen federally is if a president gets elected and just stops enforcing federal law on all marijuana growers, not just medical growers.
posted by delmoi at 7:15 AM on May 9, 2011


If you're in a state with medical marijuana laws and are drug tested, how does that work? Do testing places accept a marijuana prescription much like they would for any other prescribed medicine?
posted by geoff. at 7:40 AM on May 9, 2011


Actually, delmoi, I think the DEA has the authority to reschedule Marijuana without an act of congress. So, while the administration might not have the authority to unilaterally legalize marijuana outright, it's my understanding (and please anyone correct me if I'm mistaken) that it could push to reschedule marijuana as a controlled substance legally available by prescription. Other explicit Federal laws on the books regulating growth and distribution would, I guess, still apply though, so this wouldn't necessarily be a magic bullet.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:47 AM on May 9, 2011


There is an excellent discussion with Michael Backes here that details why this is about medicine, not about 'recreation' - and it has to do with international treaty.
posted by zenwerewolf at 7:51 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Geoff,

Here in Michigan, the law states that we have no legal remedies if one is tested positive and the job determines to fire you.
Right now, the ACLU has an interesting case going on with a man who has nasal and brain cancer after Wal-Mart sent him to the clinic for an on the job injury ( I think a box fell on his foot or something). After testing positive, providing the necessary documents to show he's legal in Michigans eyes he was terminated per company policy. This was despite the fact he was named employee of the year the previous year.

So in short, we are at the whims of companies. Then again, I am against all drug testing for employment and won't piss in a cup just so you know I am 'clean'.
posted by handbanana at 8:10 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The whole, "medical" part of MMJ seems so ridiculous...

So ridiculous that you need to put a legitimate medicine in scare quotes?

Regardless of what you think of the industry, there is little doubt that marijuana has medicinal benefits.

It's rather ludicrous to argue otherwise based solely on "a feeling."

I've never much liked the whole medical marijuana thing...

Meet some legitimate patients and you'll change your mind. Believe me, I'm very pro-legalization of all non-violent substances, and I see a point to the medical-marijuana movement apart from the legalization movement overall.

This is medicine and people need it. Once you accept that fact, it seems stupid to make it illegal for them to get it. No?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:59 AM on May 9, 2011


What's Up With Obama's Cynical Approach to Medical Marijuana?

Looks like he's floating on public (mis)perception.

For example, although federal zero-tolerance laws prohibit illegal-drug users from living in public housing or receiving rent subsidies such as Section 8, HUD has given local housing authorities in states that allow medical marijuana the discretion to not evict users.

Gee, thanks for not throwing me out on the street for using my medicine.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:12 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


This really should have been expected, as one of legalization's most oft-repeated arguments is how much money the gov't could be making on taxes. If you make something attractive to the greedy, the greedy will show up.

Yeah, tax the fuck out of it - whatever, but in no ways do you have people start businesses that are impossible to run because you (the state government) can't competently figure out a way that works.

It's literally every week, something new has to be done.

Tax the fuck out the pot, don't screw some dude, be it some pot head, of some brilliant guy with a fresh MBA when running a business and don't make that business force to use retarded, shady and often illegal practices to survive.
posted by alex_skazat at 9:12 AM on May 9, 2011


This is medicine and people need it. Once you accept that fact, it seems stupid to make it illegal for them to get it. No?

Not if denying pleasure to some is more important to you than denying medicine to others.
posted by Trurl at 9:53 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is an excellent discussion with Michael Backes here...

That was an informative discussion, zenwerewolf. Thanks. I did not realize that overdosing was so detrimental to medicinal use. Good to know. I missed that thread last week ... I'll comment there.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:06 AM on May 9, 2011


The whole, "medical" part of MMJ seems so ridiculous..

I know, right? Silly American Medical Association, MMJ is for druggies!

The veto by Governor Gregoire was a stab in the back to her liberal supporters in Seattle and the west side of Washington. Other legal experts have stated that there was no legitimate legal concern about the bill. It seems like she's probably gunning for a position with the Obama administration after she leaves office.

The new MMJ that's working its way through our state house now has some of the worst features of the previous bill, including a mandatory patient registry that the police could access.
posted by formless at 10:08 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The whole, "medical" part of MMJ seems so ridiculous...

Tell that to my ex-wife, whose fatigue, joint pain, sleeplessness, lack of appetite, and optic neuritis from multiple sclerosis is relieved with cannabis.

Or tell it to my friend T, who has neurological damage and blindness from a car accident that led to a stroke, who finished a triathlon last year because cannabis eases his constant tremors and helps him maintain his balance.

Or tell it to my pal K, quadriplegic since age 17 after a diving accident, who used cannabis for years to treat his depression. He wasn't expected to live to see 25. He died at 39, at home, in bed, surrounded by his family, with a smile on his face and a joint in his mouth.

It. Is. MEDICINE.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:10 AM on May 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


The veto by Governor Gregoire was a stab in the back to her liberal supporters in Seattle and the west side of Washington.

No it wasn't. It was a stab in the back to ALL her supporters STATEWIDE. Why would you confine it to just the rainy part of the state? Good grief.
posted by hippybear at 10:18 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


No it wasn't. It was a stab in the back to ALL her supporters STATEWIDE. Why would you confine it to just the rainy part of the state? Good grief.

You are correct, my apologies. Sometimes, I fall into the trap of us vs. them, but the MMJ issue goes beyond east side vs. west side.
posted by formless at 11:06 AM on May 9, 2011


All of the state is much more purple than strictly red or blue. Even in the most red of all the counties, still one out of every four voters voted the blue side of the ticket.

Yeah, don't do the us vs them thing about anything. MMJ or anything else. There's plenty we all have in common, not the least of which is that we all live in the same state. Start seeing the whole place as having a lot that we share, and maybe we'll find common solutions.
posted by hippybear at 11:13 AM on May 9, 2011


All of the state is much more purple than strictly red or blue.

I see what you did there.
posted by formless at 12:09 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


for an on the job injury Drug testing following an injury is pretty much standard in any company. I hate drug testing for anything other than jobs where it is a matter of public safety.
posted by SuzySmith at 3:11 PM on May 9, 2011


In Denver, writers block is NOT sufficient to get a card.

Statements like this do a disservice to those who rely on this medicine for bona fide reasons.
posted by Sheppagus at 3:30 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


An earlier version of this article erroneously classified cocaine as a Schedule 1 drug.

How 'bout that. Cocaine is less illegal under federal law than cannabis. Even the New York Times needed to be corrected on that fact.
posted by telstar at 4:23 PM on May 9, 2011


The fact of the matter is, until the federal statutes change, you'd be insane to invest a lot of money in a medical marijuana business in reliance on some memo from the Attorney General.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:32 PM on May 9, 2011


The whole, "medical" part of MMJ seems so ridiculous...

My friend D was in a terrible car wreck. She's a few inches shorter than she used to be, and when I first met her she was in constant pain while on debilitating amounts of prescribed Vicodin. A few years back she figured out that marijuana eased her pain far more than any prescribed painkiller had done, plus she wasn't all slow and sluggish in brain and bowel (opiates make you hella constipated). Her doctor signed off on the medical marijuana prescription a couple of years ago and D has been functioning incredibly well ever since. Her pain is manageable, she's able to work and socialize, life is good.

I use MMJ in an "off-brand" way -- I have very painful gastrointestinal issues and the one thing I have found that eases the pain is marijuana. I say off-brand because the last time I checked gastro issues like mine weren't covered by MMJ laws. (I do not have a fraudulent card; I get mine from someone who also supplies MMJ to a co-op.)

Many people are helped by medical marijuana. Please don't dismiss it because you haven't personally benefited from it.
posted by palomar at 11:28 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


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