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URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v16/n570/a01.html
Newshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htm
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Sat, 20 Aug 2016
Source: East Bay Times, The (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Digital First Media
Website: http://www.eastbaytimes.com
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/314
Note: Oakland Tribune till April 2016


Federal officials remain in a haze when it comes to articulating a comprehensible national policy on marijuana.

Perhaps last week’s ruling by the 9th U.S.  Circuit Court of Appeals curtailing the feds from prosecuting legitimate growers and distributors will help clear the air.

Half the nation’s states, led by California, permit medicinal applications.  Four states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use.  In November, California could become the fifth.

Yet the federal government still sees marijuana as a dangerous drug and dispensary operators as prosecution targets.

President Barack Obama has said he considers marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol.  More than three years ago, he said he had “bigger fish to fry” than targeting pot smokers in states that permit recreational use.

Yet, it took a bipartisan congressional action to rein in his Justice Department.  In December 2014, Congress added an amendment to a spending bill directing the Justice Department to not interfere with states’ medical marijuana laws.

Finally, in May, federal prosecutors dropped a misguided lawsuit against the Harborside dispensaries in Oakland and San Jose.  After four years of litigation, Harborside climbed out from under legal threat.

Then, last week, ruling in cases from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington state, the 9th Circuit ordered an end to federal prosecutions of growers and sellers operating legally under state laws.

The ruling is long overdue.  However, it’s uncertain whether the Justice Department will finally throw in the towel and move on to important cases.

Meanwhile, in another arm of the Obama administration, the Drug Enforcement Agency continues to classify pot as a dangerous drug with no medical value on par with LSD and heroin.

Earlier this month, the DEA once again refused to back down from that position.  The agency says there is inadequate data showing marijuana is safe and effective for medicinal use.

But the feds have tightly controlled the supply of marijuana available for use in research.  The University of Mississippi has been the only federally authorized grower of pot for medical studies.

The good news is that the FDA this month announced it will finally relax that, allowing other universities to apply to grow marijuana.

More research could provide critical guidance on the efficacy of using marijuana to treat, for example, pain, nausea, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s disease and Alzheimer’s.

It could also help states that have legalized pot use set standards for determining whether drivers are illegally under the influence of marijuana.

It’s a shame that the federal government has dragged its feet on the criminal and medical fronts.  It should have been a leader. 

MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom