New marijuana 'road map' still has detours

August 30, 2008

Dave Stancliff, The Times-Standard

California Attorney General Jerry Brown passed out an 11-page “road map” for medical marijuana patients recently and hopes everybody will obey the new rules of the road.

After a dozen years of sparring, state and federal authorities, have new guidelines to help legitimate patients avoid arrest. The new directive also spells out how to distinguish legal medical marijuana operations from illegal cultivators and criminal middlemen, which is supposed to make it easier for everyone involved.

Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana group, told the Los Angeles Times recently that, “This is huge!” Then went on to say, “Hopefully this will send a message to the federal government that California doesn't intend to deter from the course it has set.”

I hate to be the one to burst bubbles about the feds buying into this latest attempt to get them to be reasonable, but if anyone thinks this will make any difference to them then they must believe in the tooth fairy.

However well intentioned, the truth of the matter is the feds have, and will continue to, tell California lawmakers and voters how things are going to be. They'll keep right on busting people and California has been helpless to stop them thus far.

When Brown produced his new road map towards tolerance he must have forgotten some things. For starters, the feds go by their own speed limits, and are tools of a failed Drug War against marijuana that seems to have no end in sight.

So far the feds have happily ignored other guidelines and raid wherever, and whenever, they feel like going for a drive. Even though an unlikely coalition of police and medical marijuana activists welcomed the new “road map” don't expect the feds to stay on the same road with them.

The past has clearly shown the feds contempt for what Californian's voted for and approved years ago. They ignore our lawmakers, and go after our cities who try to carry out the will of the voters.

I know the new guidelines suggest that people sign up for a state sanctioned medical marijuana card that they can produce when confronted by authorities (spell that feds), but I think that would be a bad idea. How long do you think a list like that would be safe from the feds, who we all know play by their own rules of the road?

The new guidelines are supposed to explain the difference between for-profit operations (the bad guys), and non-profit operations. A laundry list with checkmarks spells out who's been naughty and who's been nice for state police, and the feds, to use.

Basically, the premise is that drug cartels are taking over medical marijuana dispensaries, and the new guidelines give the green light to authorities to bust them. As far as I can tell, the authorities have been busting them -- and legit operations -- for a long time now.

Some medical marijuana activists are really happy to see this move by California's top law enforcement official, and if reports in the newspapers are true, so are the police. While these two groups are patting themselves on the back the feds are silent about this new tact to keep them on the same road as the rebellious California drivers.

On one hand I'm glad to see the fight continues to give Californian's what they want, and that a top dog like Brown is willing to wrestle with the big boys from Washington D.C. On the other hand, it doesn't take much imagination to see this latest attempt is just another battle in the war for state's rights. At what point are the feds going to give up and recognize that their ridiculous war on marijuana is going nowhere, and admit it isn't a Class One drug? When will they go after the real druggies who use meth, cocaine, heroin, and dozens of other substances that are Class One drugs that really threaten this country?

Where's the war on meth? Where's the war on legal prescription drugs being abused by our youth? Where is the war against so-called designer drugs?

There's no doubt in my mind that there are people “working the system” that shouldn't be operating cannabis clinics. They do need to be shut down, because they are giving the legit clinics a bad name. And, I want to think this latest attempt at slowing the feds down will work.

The problem is things have to change at the top. The question now is which one of the presidential candidates would honor Californian's right to medical marijuana? Personally, I wouldn't bet on either of them. Maybe someone should ask McCain and Obama how they feel about state's rights?

As It Stands, since voters approved Prop. 215, the road has been full of potholes!

Dave Stancliff is a columnist for the Times-Standard. He is a former newspaper editor and publisher. Comments can be sent to richstan1@suddenlink.net or davesblogcentral.com

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