Over the weekend, there was quite a ruckus over whether folks should support legalization or medical use of marijuana, as if there was some problem with folks supporting one or the other, or both. You can follow the discussion at CelebStoner.com and TokeOfTheTown.com if you’d like to follow along. I’m posting my comments here to memorialize my thoughts.
I’m wondering why California hasn’t sued Eric Holder for maintaining marijuana in a category that says it has no accepted medical use in the United States. It has accepted medical use in California and California is a state and California is in the United States. I think the state officials in California are responsible for the mess there and they need to be sued for failure to defend the state medical marijuana law at the federal level. Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006), says medical use is determined by state lawmakers, not by the U.S. Department of Justice.
I would say that government officials don’t do anything voluntarily, particularly if there might be some difficulty involved. Since the case I’m referring to, Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006), took a federal law suit and law suits costs money, I don’t think you have to look any further for a theory as to why California has not done this. That’s why it will take a citizen to file a law suit in state court against the state for failure to do everything within its power to protect medical use by the citizens. Certainly, demanding marijuana be removed from federal schedule I is within the state’s power and right as a state in the United States (since the criteria for keeping it in schedule I is that it must have no accepted medical use in the United States). I don’t see this happening without a petition for writ of mandamus filed by Californians in state court against state officials. The title of the case would be John Doe v. California (John Doe being whoever files the case). The ACLU should do this for the citizens, but I’m sure they won’t.
Just to give you an example, I filed a petition with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy to remove marijuana from schedule I and they rejected it without even considering it. I sued them and won. After I won, they held months of public hearings and ruled unanimously that marijuana should be removed from schedule I. The money for the hearings came out of their own operating budget. They won’t do something like that voluntarily. You have to sue them. In California, your pharmacy board has no authority to reclassify, so you would have to sue the state directly as I am currently doing here in Iowa.
All 16 states that have accepted the medical use of marijuana accept it in it’s natural plant form, not as a pharmaceutical prescription drug. The trend is not going toward a takeover by corporate pharmaceutical companies. This is a good thing. Anyone who doesn’t support this trend is no friend of legalization.
Yes, NORML, legalization would be good for patients. Why don’t you go do that for them?
The amazing this is that while NORML blast the medical marijuana community, NORML is currently working to have marijuana transferred to schedule III, IV, or V of the federal Controlled Substances Act. What is that all about?
Make Marijuana Legal For Medical Purposes: Help Put Marijuana Reschedule Petition Before President Obama by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director October 4, 2011
What NORML never tells you is that all 16 states that have accepted the medical use of marijuana have failed to sue Eric Holder for keeping marijuana classified as a substance with no accepted medical use in the United States. The United States Supreme Court made it abundantly clear in Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006) that states decide what is and is not accepted for medical use, not the federal government. NORML’s legal committee just doesn’t get it, or is hiding it for some reason.
There’s a reason the federal government is cracking down on large-scale manufacture and distribution – because the state officials have committed treason by failing to represent the people who elected them to enforce the state laws.
Colorado is asking the DEA to put marijuana in Schedule II without a shred of evidence to back it up. The letter was one page. The letter says the Colorado Legislature thinks marijuana “may have potential” medical use. The Colorado Constitution says marijuana “is” medicine. It’s treason for any state official to say marijuana “may have” when the constitution says “does have.” How the citizens of Colorado are letting these state officials commit treason is beyond belief.
Your constitution in Colorado does not say “may have.” It says marijuana is medicine. Your legislature has enacted an unconstitutional law that says “may have” and you’ve just consented to it. You’re free to give up your rights, but not all of us play that way.
Medical marijuana is not a prescription drug. It isn’t prescribed in any state where it’s legal for medical use. People who make the argument that it’s just a pretense for corporate control by the pharmaceutical companies aren’t looking at the facts. The fact is the plant is most useful in its natural form and the laws in 16 states that have legalized it for medical use all reflect that fact. Marijuana does not belong in Schedule I, but it also does not belong in Schedules II, III, IV, or V because those schedules all contain prescription drugs. So, medical use does lead to legalization. The fact that marijuana is currently classified as “good for nothing” is the problem and medical marijuana is the solution because it proves marijuana is “good for something.” The fact that NORML and its friends are unable to have fun, or whatever “recreational” use means, is just not a compelling argument.
Now, the real question is why the large scale manufacturers and distributors haven’t sued their state officials for failure to represent the will of the people and sue Eric Holder for failing to remove marijuana from it’s current classification as having no accepted medical use in the United States. It’s like they want the federal government to keep marijuana classified as having no accepted medical use in the United States. The documentary on the National Geographic channel last month “Marijuana Gold Rush” actually made this argument that as long as it remains illegal under federal law, high risk investors can make a lot of money from it. What a shame.
This latest round by NORML reminds me of comments Scott Imler made several years ago that got quoted over and over again by the drug warriors. My problem with California is that the state officials have not filed against the U.S. Attorney General for maintaining marijuana in a classification that says it has no accepted medical use in the United States. California is a state and it’s in the United States. When I read the decision in Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006), it became clear to me that accepted medical use is defined by state law, not by the 8 factors in 21 U.S.C. 811(c). The DEA can not put marijuana into any of the other four schedules, because it isn’t being sold interstate and it isn’t being prescribed. That would leave it completely unscheduled, which is exactly where it should be.
I think NORML’s comments have stimulated an important discussion. On the one hand, the medical cannabis industry could provide much needed resources to get the states to demand federal reclassification. On the other hand, they probably won’t if they’re just in it for the money. We certainly need to expand production and distribution, but it can’t be done by simply changing state law. Federal law also has to be changed before it will work. So, NORML has a point worth considering, even it wasn’t articulated very well.
So, yes, we need a medical cannabis industry, but, no, the model we are seeing develop is severely flawed. The main point I would take issue with NORML over is the idea that cannabis consumers just can’t have any fun unless marijuana is legal. Who is going to get all teary-eyed about that? Medical cannabis is going to result in full legalization, not the other way around. NORML needs to get its priorities in order.
Let’s just take Harborside Health Center for an example. They gross over $20 million per year. They just got hit with a $2.5 million IRS tax levy because marijuana is federally classified as a substance with no medical use in the United States. But, it has accepted medical use in California, which is a state in the United States. Has California ever sued the U.S. Attorney General, like Oregon sued John Ashcroft for trying to interfere with it’s state assisted suicide law? No. Has Harborside sued California for failure to sue Eric Holder? No. What’s going on is some kind of relationship between California and Harborside that makes it inconvenient for Harborside to sue California, so the problem just doesn’t get fixed. California should be paying that $2.5 million IRS tax levy for Harborside, but Harborside is compromised because California allows it to exist in the first place.
With the health benefits of juicing cannabis being revealed, we need large scale production and distribution, and the current dispensary model just isn’t going to fill that need.