DEA fighting the wrong war

September 18, 2002

Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle,

THE SANTA CRUZ rally for medical marijuana shows how strongly Californians feel about using cannabis products to relieve human suffering. Hundreds came to Tuesday's City Hall pot giveaway -- even the mayor, council members and a county supervisor. As did most of the participants, the public officials came to support the dozen or so gravely ill residents who rely on marijuana to ease the effects of chemotherapy, cancer and other diseases. But the rally went beyond a mere demonstration of compassion. It was an act of defiance in the biggest skirmish yet between California voters and the federal government over medical marijuana. Two weeks ago, the Drug Enforcement Agency raided Santa Cruz's Wo/Mens Alliance for Medical Marijuana, which opened in 1996 after voters overwhelming passed Proposition 215, the medical marijuana initiative. The raid curtailed pot distribution to the cooperative's 230 members. But the alliance is precisely what voters had in mind … a tightly regulated program that mandates identification before giving away organically grown pot. It's a program for very sick people with a doctor's prescription. The DEA should wisely direct its drug war efforts elsewhere.

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