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A new national study has been released regarding cannabis, medical cannabis specifically, and President Obama’s amplified war on the plant. Mason-Dixon conducted an interview of 1,000 likely 2012 general election voters, informing them that “currently, 16 states plus the District of Columbia have made the use of marijuana legal. In some of these states, individuals have been authorized to cultivate and sell medical marijuana under tightly regulated conditions. However, medical marijuana use remains illegal under federal law, even in states that have passed laws or ballot measures that allow it for medical treatment.” Mason-Dixon’s poll then asked the 1,000 participants if they felt President Obama should “respect the medical marijuana laws in these states, or use federal resources to arrest and prosecute individuals who are acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws?”
With the participants broken into near thirds of political parties, 37% identifying as democrat, 32% republican, and 30% independent or unaffiliated, this slice of our nation found 74% want the Obama administration to respect the states with medical cannabis laws and end federal funding for raids. Independents rang in the heaviest support with 79%, while republicans showed two thirds support, and only 19% responded with opposition to those complying with state laws. The 18-34 demographic was overwhelmingly supportive, 81% answering that they felt Obama should respect medical cannabis laws, and 64% of the oldest group agreed.
The final results across races, ages, political affiliation and sex showed the United States clearly disagrees with Federal cannabis policy. Huffington Post reported via Americans for Safe Access that more than 170 aggressive SWAT-style raids have been conducted in nine states that allow medical cannabis, resulting in at least 61 federal indictments since October 2009. Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Huffington Post that “what the results of this survey show is there is absolutely no political justification for what President Obama is doing with respect to medical marijuana laws. Across the board… there is extremely strong support for respecting state medical marijuana laws.”
If you identify as one of the 74% of American voters like myself who wish the Obama Administration would discontinue funding the war on cannabis, let them know! Call the White House directly at 202-456-1111 between 11am and 5pm and leave a comment for President Barack Obama, or cruise ContactingTheCongress.org and let your Congress men and women know that they have the majority of their parties support in passing and protecting medical cannabis laws. We are the voices that need to be heard, as our President seems to ignore the growing population seeking safe access.
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:
This full story can be found at The Huffington Post.
Original story at The Vancouver Sun.