My attitude is that if it’s an issue of doctors prescribing medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma or as a cancer treatment, I think that should be appropriate because there really is no difference between that and a doctor prescribing morphine or anything else. … I think the basic concept that using medical marijuana in the same way, with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that’s entirely appropriate. I would not punish doctors if it’s prescribed in a way that is appropriate.
2008 – A doctor who prescribed marijuana as treatment for her own breast cancer and then for others’ is busted by the DEA. She and her husband, a lawyer who suffers from hemophilia, tended a small medical marijuana garden, completely within compliance of California’s Prop 215 (aka “state law”). They were open and up-front about what they were doing and drew praise from the local leaders for their compassionate operation. The sheriffs who had been verifying their compliance with state law turned the data over to DEA, who then used their plant counts over the course of the three year statute of limitations to top 100, the magic number needed to secure a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.
But Obama wants to parse it like Clinton – notice “prescribe” and “same controls as other drugs” that medical marijuana can’t claim. Plus, I’m sure he’d note that Dr. Mollie Fry was busted for growing and selling, not “prescribing”.
What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. … As a consequence, there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.
No, but there have been prosecutions of the people who supply and grow marijuana for users of marijuana for medical purposes. So, technically, you can’t say he lied. Sure, there have been 170 raids on medical marijuana providers, threatening letters to landlords of medical marijuana providers, revocation of banking accounts for medical marijuana providers, tax liens using drug kingpin statutes against medical marijuana providers, but true to his word, Obama has not busted a patient who was simply smoking a bowl. It’s just that the patient has to get his medicine from the Weed Fairy.
But as Obama tries to triangulate a position on medical marijuana that maintains Big Pharma’s wishes without alienating his progressive base too much, he has to get past the other part of his 2008 campaign promises:
I think there are legitimate concerns in not wanting to allow people to grow their own or start setting up mom and pop shops because at that point it becomes fairly difficult to regulate…. What I’m not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue…
I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana – and the reason is, because it’s against federal law. I can’t nullify congressional law. I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, “Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books.” What I can say is, “Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.”
It’s interesting how President Obama can’t overlook the federal law on cultivation and distribution. Yet he can overlook the use of medical marijuana by patients and its “appropriate” prescription by doctors, which also flouts federal law. Also, California, Colorado, and Montana had all sorts of state laws on the issue that were circumvented by his raids, but New Mexico’s state laws haven’t seemed to arouse his attention. It is also interesting that the president is able to ignore completely other federal laws (the Defense of Marriage Act comes to mind, maybe Congressional Declaration of War, a few of our Bill of Rights…) on the books, but that one about planting and selling cannabis is sacrosanct.
So let’s tackle this “prioritization”. Apparently, the priority is to attack the supply side of medical marijuana and overlook the demand side. Somehow, it is the thousands of dispensaries and growers that are “really doing folks damage”, but the millions of people consuming their product aren’t being damaged? So it’s not really the weed that is doing the damage, but the business of weed, in the president’s estimation.
Now when you attack the supply side, the compassionate and, sure, entrepreneurial folks who want to grow marijuana and supply patients legally, in spite of contradictory and vague statutes in medical marijuana states, when you shut the people who want to follow the rules down, you don’t eliminate the demand side. In fact, you’ve emboldened the demand side by reassuring them that the medicinal users of marijuana are not “really doing folks damage” and are not “prioritized”.
So somebody steps up to supply them, and since you’re squashing the “people [who] grow their own” and the “mom and pop shops”, that somebody is an unregulated pot slinger of dubious ethics and the profits he generates eventually enrich a murderous drug lord in Mexico. By not going after the patients, you’ve allowed for 1.25 million potential customers for drug kingpins instead of allowing states to regulate the business and reap the tax revenues.
And you talk of the “things that are really doing folks damage” without the ironic realization that when it comes to medical marijuana, you are that thing. Unless by “folks” you mean “people” and by “people” you mean “corporations”. In that case, I can see how natural people building an industry around a cheap medicinal herb is “really doing folks damage”.