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Monday, August 13, 2007

America and Marijuana: “Medicinal” My Ass

Posted By on Mon, Aug 13, 2007 at 6:07 AM


Did you know there was a marijuana reform bill in the California state senate named Senate Bill 420? Ha! Snitch drug reporter Matt Novak digs up some interesting news on both sides of the aisle – from potheads hiding behind the “medicinal” label, to the ass-headed DEA flexing on the mighty will of California's bajillion voters. Clear their eyes, Novak. -d2


Fat chance with Congress voting 85-350 Against

Opinion by Matt Novak.

As you can see on our pot clubs Google map, the city's 30-odd dispensaries are still running despite a hailstorm of challenges:

Raids in 2002 resulted in the entanglement of horticulturalist/columnist/enthusiast Ed Rosenthal in the courts in perpetuity.

In 2004 Oakland capped her clubs at four, shutting down or shuffling more than a dozen others across the Bay.

"Operation Urban Harvest" in 2005 shook down three clubs, and indicted their owners.

And all summer long, the DEA has been waging a heavy-handed campaign of intimidation across the state, focusing on LA, while cops raided the Berkeley Patients Group dispensary just last week.

After new city permitting rules took effect last year, a handful of clubs were forced to close or relocate because of zoning restrictions, and public hearings shut down the Green Cross' outlet near Fisherman's Wharf, with neighborhood residents citing "myriad quality-of-life crimes associated with these clubs" If you're wondering what "quality-of-life crimes" are, they might be defined as "related to litter, trash, dumping, junk cars, parking, signs, graffiti...and occupancy", and include drinking in public, public urination and playing loud music.

If that seems a little fluffy to you, you should know that Mayor Newsom’s proposing a community court in the Tenderloin to deal specifically with this non-violent sloppiness, based on a hybrid community and social service sentencing model trademarked by Giuliani to Disney-fy Times Square in the 1990's.

Basically, neighborhood NIMBYs, who readily admit voting for Prop. 215, and generally agree that marijuana's good medicine, argued that puffing marijuana turns card-carrying patients into alley-pissing vandals. It's all a little ridiculous, besides being hypocritical. Most of the clubs I see are quiet and well-maintained, and the people congregating inside are definitely not tweaked for a search and destroy mission.

At the core of these conflicts are the issues of whether longtime recreational drug marijuana has valid medicinal uses, and of states' rights to resist federal decree that it has none. Though Drug War rhetoric pooh-poohs pot's prescriptive powers (hey, the same people are telling you global warming is a myth, a continually growing body of actual research makes the case otherwise.

A study conducted by the Institute of Medicine, commissioned by the Drug Czar's own Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP, which produces those laughable PSAs) reinforced evidence of the medicinal qualities of THC. But since the 2005 Supreme Court ruling that federal prohibitions against cannabis cultivation and traffic trumps states' rights in the rock, paper, scissors game of the law, Proposition 215, having survived the democratic ballot as a reflection of the will of the majority of Californians, is worth about as much as a wooden nickel.

As such, current Drug Czar John Walters gleefully orchestrates the current round of harassments, contending that the state-level medical marijuana initiative is simply a "red herring" serving evil, un-American forces who want to decriminalize recreational drug use. So what if it is?

While the cynical, hysterical doom-saying about "brain damage" and street crime that issues from the ONDCP and the DEA stinks plenty of bullshit, the scoffing analysis of marijuana users as Left Coast hippy potheads isn't just a toadstool on a turd. There are sane, organized professionals out there pushing the pro-dope agenda, like the Marijuana Policy Project and NORML, but then there are the founders of the U.S. Marijuana Party attempting to organize a voting lobby out of alleged 12 million American potheads in order to put an end to piss tests, or start a "2nd Civil War"

If we're honest about it, medical marijuana is inevitably not 100% about the medical. No doubt, a significant percentage of card-carrying Californians are serious about the medicinal benefits of their marijuana, and their health would be adversely affected if they were forced to suspend treatment or to rely on Big Pharmaco candy, which after a heavily curved round of FDA tests ends up rolling out to Walgreen’s with at least as many uncatalogued, adverse side effects as can result from inhaling clouds of incinerated flora.

But pot docs are ready to write you a 'scrip for problems as ephemeral as headaches or nausea, and Senate Bill 420 (who says Sacramento doesn’t have a sense of humor?) provides for the afflicted to name any adult a "caregiver," who then gets a license to buy grass (the voluntary Medical Marijuana ID card) for the same nominal annual fee ($103 in San Francisco) the patient pays.

Once you've got it (up to an ounce) there's nothing stopping you from sharing. Whether they've got a legitimate, chronic health problem, or just the chronic, some people are going to end up smoking up because--gasp!--they actually enjoy it. On the other hand, that seems to be the Gov's only reason for wanting to stop it.

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has repeatedly spoken out in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. His libertarian bent prompted him to introduce an amendment in the House which would have dismantled the ONDCP, which failed with only 85 votes. His reasoning echoes the popular argument that smoking pot isn’t any worse than the ingestion of regulated substances like alcohol or cigarettes, and that the Drug War is a monumental policy failure and waste of taxpayer money. When William Frickin’ Buckley has to concede the War is lost, is there really justification to hide behind the canard of medical compassion?

People who enjoy smoking marijuana for whatever reasons without fear of legal reprisal should climb down off their high horses and join together to petition those politicians and government officials who seem receptive to some plain common sense.

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David Downs


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