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Lawmakers in five states issue letter telling feds: hands off medical marijuana

Posted on April 9th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .

medical marijuanaOn April 2, a bipartisan group of legislators from five medical marijuana states—California, Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, and Washington—issued an open letter to President Barack Obama opposing the federal crackdown and calling upon his administration to "respect our state laws." The lawmakers underscored that such an aggressive policy "makes no sense" and is "not a good use of our resources," recalling Obama's original pledge to de-emphasize enforcement in states with medical marijuana laws.

The letter states: "Our state medical marijuana laws differ from one another in their details, such as which patients qualify for medical use; how much marijuana patients may possess; whether patients and caregivers may grow marijuana; and whether regulated entities may grow and sell marijuana to patients. Each of our laws, however, is motivated by a desire to protect seriously ill patients from criminal penalties under state law."

The letter—signed by California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), California Assemblyman Chris Norby (R-Orange County), Washington State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle), New Mexico State Rep. Antonio Maestas (D- Albuquerque), New Mexico State Sen. Cisco McSorley (D- Albuquerque), Maine State Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea) and Colorado State Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver)—comes on the heels of the high-profile federal raid on medical marijuana training school Oaksterdam University in downtown Oakland. The lawmakers protested that such raids will only "force patients underground" into the illegal drug market.

Delaware officials were the latest to be threatened by the Justice Department, derailing that state's recently passed medical marijuana law. Mere months after signing Delaware’s medical marijuana bill into law, Gov. Jack Markell in February suspended implementation of the state’s dispensary program in light of a letter he received from the US Attorney for Delaware, Charles M. Oberly III. The letter detailed enforcement action that the federal government could take against those who comply with the state's new medical marijuana law.

The language in Oberly’s letter is similar to a US attorney's letter that Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire received while a dispensary bill was pending in her state last year. The letter was eventually used as her stated reason for vetoing provisions of a new law that would have brought medical marijuana dispensaries under state regulation. However, other states received similar letters as well and nonetheless moved forward with their programs. (ASA, April 9; Huffington Post, April 2; MPP, Feb. 15)


Graphic: Herbal Remedies


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