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Break off a nug of some cannabis news.
Back in October the California medical marijuana industry was issued a stern warning by the 4 U.S. attorneys in the state. Landlords were threatened with property seizures and long prison sentences for harboring those dealing with federally controlled substances, regardless of the city or state laws and ordinances that have protected medical marijuana for 16 years in California. The results have been cloudy at best, with clubs in many cities closing down rather than face federal opposition, and the public outrage high.
On Thursday, January 12, following a December filled with rumors that the federal crackdown would spread, Colorado’s U.S. attorney John Walsh sent out 23 letters to dispensaries located within 1,000 feet of schools, mirroring California’s warnings of 45 days to shut down or face severe legal prosecution. Colorado approved a constitutional amendment in November 2000, removing “state-level penalties for the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physician affirming that he or she suffers from a debilitating condition and advising that they might benefit from the medical use of marijuana.” The state has since implemented some of the most rigorous regulations of any industry in Colorado, overseeing cannabis from seed to sale.
Representative Jared Polis (D-Colorado) had hoped his state’s commitment to seeing medical cannabis well regulated would provide a safeguard amongst a series of closures and threats in Washington, Montana and California. Colorado has live video feeds monitoring the medical marijuana dispensaries, employees must wear visible badges when working the plant, and background checks are routine for anyone hired to work in the dispensaries. The state has regulations for the disposal of unsold pot, and guidelines for the safe production of hash. Colorado’s U.S. attorney John Walsh insists his state’s voters “could not have anticipated that their vote would be used to justify large marijuana stores within blocks of our schools,” yet medical cannabis was approved and existed without the 1,000 foot regulation for a decade before Colorado passed the rule and grandfathered in existing dispensaries.
One problem with the federal government stepping into Colorado to measure clubs’ distances from schools is that they’ve brought their own ruler, and it’s not quite the same as the state’s. While Colorado approved regulations measuring the distance of the dispensary’s front door to the edge of school properties, the federal government uses the measurement of property line to property line, “as the crow flies.” This will mean that some dispensaries that had otherwise been told they are clear of the 1,000 foot zone now face moving or closing down completely.
Rob Corry, a lawyer representing some of the dispensaries in Colorado has called the crackdown “a colossal bluff on the part of our U.S. attorney,” saying “I don’t think he has the stomach or the resources for this kind of battle.” Corry encourages his clients to ignore the threats, and while I agree that the dispensaries should have no intentions of moving or closing, ignoring the threats won’t be enough. States need to join together to provide a strong front to our federal government that where medical cannabis has been approved and allowed, it will remain. California, Washington, Montana, and perhaps most clearly in Colorado voters have agreed upon regulations to keep their communities safe, and the federal government should be reconsidering any commitment to this crackdown.
Our battle for legalization is far from over while the medical marijuana communities we have established are threatened.
Websites I referred to while writing this:
My original post can be found here:
Spice, K2, and synthetic cannabis by any name is dangerous to the cannabis legalization effort. The United States government has waged war on the cannabis plant for over 40 years; a period of prohibition that forces citizens to associate cannabis with many other much more dangerous drugs. While cannabis has yet to kill a human being in all of history, we have seen epidemics of cocaine, crack, heroin, meth, ecstasy and pharmaceutical drugs destroy our country and be used by those building arguments against cannabis legalization.
As more research is done regarding cannabis as an all natural healer and component in well-being, those who do not have safe access to the plant will seek something they think to be similar. Synthetic cannabis is sold under many names, with some of the ingredients now illegal in over 40 states. K2, Spice, “herbal smoking blends,” are herbs often sprayed with laboratory created synthetic cannabinoids, chemical compounds that may cause effects unlike cannabis use. While patients and partygoers are seeking the soothing beneficial results of cannabis, they are greeted with a surprise blend of chemicals in each distribution. Professor John W. Huffman, who first synthesised many of the cannabinoids used in synthetic cannabis, is quoted as saying,
“People who use it are idiots. You don’t know what it’s going to do to you.”
The real thing however, has been smoked, cooked with, vaporized, cultivated and used for thousands of years with zero associated deaths. It has an untapped bounty of medical and therapeutic uses, yet the United States government stands firmly by listing cannabis as a level 1 controlled substance. By their definition cannabis has no medical use and a high risk of abuse, defying the laws in 16 states currently recognizing medical use. Without acknowledgment from the Federal government that cannabis is a unique and safe substance, people will continue to try what they have been told is similar, the drugs also listed as controlled substances, or those marketed as legal versions of cannabis. People will continue to be placed in harms way.
I believe that with the legalization of cannabis, and full efforts to find safe access for all who need, there would be much less need for possibly harmful experimental drugs. Cannabis is a safe substance, and an all natural plant. Human beings are born with cannabinoid receptors, denying our bodies regulation cannot be remedied with any other substance.
I gathered information from a number of sources on the internet, primarily Wikipedia’s pages for the War on Drugs, Synthetic Cannabis, Cannabinoid Receptors, and the Endocannabinoid System. I also found this article by MSNBC relevant, as well as Huffington Post’s piece regarding Spice use by United States military.