Progress and backlash as states embrace medicinal cannabis

Posted on March 26th, 2010 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

cannabisA wave of marijuana law reform is sweeping the US, with initiatives to legalize medicinal use in the forefront, and the traditionally staid East Coast starting to catch up with western states. A medical marijuana bill is gaining ground in New York's state legislature, with lawmakers touting the additional revenues it could bring from licensing fees for growers and dispensers. (WXXI, Rochester, March 23)

New Jersey's legislature approved a measure in January that makes the state the 14th in the nation, but one of the first on the East Coast, to legalize medical use of cannabis. (NYT, Jan. 11)

Attorney General Eric Holder last fall announced that raiding medical marijuana facilities would be the lowest priority for federal law enforcement agents. The American Medical Association recommended in November that Congress reschedule cannabis as a drug with possible medicinal benefit. (USA Today, March 8)

But on Match 22, Virgil Grant, owned six medical cannabis dispensaries in Los Angeles, was sentenced to six years of imprisonment, on federal charges of dealing for profit. After the investigation, it was also found that a customer from one of his stores in Compton, Holistic Caregivers, was involved in a December 2007 accident on Highway 101 in which a motorcyclist was killed and a California Highway Patrol officer was paralyzed. It was found that the truck driver had consumed cannabis, and cannabis products from Grant's dispensary were found in his vehicle. The driver was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Grant, originally arrested in May 2008, was busted again in December, when he tried to open two more dispensaries against terms of his bond. (Top News, March 23; Huffington Post, March 22; LAT, May 28, 2008)

On March 16, prominent medical marijuana activist Steve Sarich of the group CannaCare shot an armed man who apparently broke into his Seattle area home to steal his plants. Police arrested five on robbery charges in connection with the shooting incident, including one who is in critical condition. Sarich suffered minor wounds from a shotgun blast fired by the intruder he shot. Also in March, a mean in Orting, near Tacoma, died after reportedly being beaten while confronting people trying to steal cannabis plants from his property.

"Any person making medical marijuana is going to be a target because they have a valuable commodity," Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County Sheriff's Department told the New York Times. (NYT, March 16)

Law enforcement statements and media sensationalism around the incidents of course overlook that such violence is directly related to cannabis' illegality.

Photo by akhir.


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