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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Medical Marijuana Programs Under Attack

Medical Marijuana surrounding a vaporizer for ...
In the past week medical marijuana programs in several states have come under attack. Some of the attacks have come from the Federal Government and some have come from within the state's themselves as certain lawmakers try to severely restrict access in their states.

In Montana, the state legislature pushed through a bill that will not only reduce access to medical marijuana but will also force patients to give up their rights and submit to search and seizure at any time. The bill also bans the sale of marijuana, limits caregivers to three patients and requires patients to have a pre-existing relationship with the recommending doctor.
Governor Brian Schweitzer, who has been critical of the new restrictions, let the bill become law without his signature. Schweitzer says he didn't veto the law because he believes that the current system allows people recreational use of marijuana.
Medical marijuana advocates gathered at the state capitol in Helena Saturday to protest the restrictions.

In Washington State, Governor Christine Gregoire vetoed a bill Friday that would have legalized the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana in the state. Gregoire says she was swayed by the legal opinion of Federal prosecutors who told her that if the bill went forward, the feds would crack down on not only dispensary operators and growers, but also on the state regulators who allow them to operate.

In Rhode Island, Federal Prosecutors warned state legislators that their plan to license medical marijuana dispensaries would violate federal law. In a letter hand-delivered to Governor Lincoln Chafee, the feds said that they would target dispensaries for prosecution even if they are following state guidelines.
""The Department of Justice maintains the authority to enforce (federal drug laws) vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law," U.S. Attorney Pete Neronha wrote in the three-page letter to Chafee.
The Department of Justice has stated that they will not target seriously ill individuals who use marijuana medically, but say they will still go after anybody who manufactures or distributes marijuana.

But on the bright side:

In Hawaii, a bill to further regulate medical marijuana, limiting distribution to one state-run dispensary and limiting the illnesses that qualify people for the program to AIDS, HIV, Cancer and Multiple Sclerosis died for lack of support after lawmakers couldn't agree on how the program should work.Senate Health Committee Chairman Josh Green was pushing the bill because he says the state's current program allows for the recreational use of marijuana, citing the fact that more than half of Hawaii's medical marijuana patients are under the age of 30.
Lawmakers have said that the issue deserves attention and they may return to it next year.

My Two Cents: Although the Federal Government refuses to acknowledge the fact, it's pretty obvious that marijuana does indeed have many legitimate medical uses and I feel that patients in all states should have immediate access to the medicine that improves their quality of life so much.
What sense does it make to limit access so severely? That's like saying that anti-biotics should only be sold in centralized, state-run drug stores. It's crazy.
Government officals at both the state and federal level need to back off and let people have their medicine.
The only real argument these lawmakers have is that loosely regulated medical marijuana programs promote recreational use (which should be legal too!), but I don't find that to be a very valid argument considering that most of them probably go home and drink themselves silly after a long, hard day of keeping medicine from sick people. Why should they be able to enjoy their recreational drug of choice while we are not allowed to enjoy ours?  They're all a bunch of hypocrites.
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