California Attorney General Calls Federal Government “Ill-Equipped” to Enforce State’s Medical Marijuana Laws
December 22, 2011 | Kris Hermes
In a series of letters sent by California Attorney General Kamala Harris yesterday, the state’s top law enforcement official railed against the recent federal crackdown on medical marijuana and called on the state legislature to clarify the law.
Harris sent a letter to the California’s four U.S. Attorneys who in early October announced with great fanfare an intensified campaign targeting the state’s medical marijuana growers and distributors. In her letter, Harris condemned the federal government’s attempt to enforce violations of local and state medical marijuana laws:
The federal government is ill-equipped to be the sole arbiter of whether an individual or group is acting within the bounds of California’s medical marijuana laws when cultivating marijuana for medical purposes.
Harris also sent a letter to multiple state legislators, calling on them to clarify California’s medical marijuana laws, especially with regard to the rules on distribution. Citing “unsettled questions of law and policy,” Harris urged action by the legislature:
Without a substantive change to existing law, these irreconcilable interpretations of the law, and the resulting uncertainty for law enforcement and seriously ill patients, will persist.
Harris emphasized the “premium” that California law places on “patients’ rights to access marijuana for medical use.” In her letter to State Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and State Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles), Harris cautioned the legislators on abridging the rights of patients:
In any legislative action that is taken, the voters’ decision to allow physicians to recommend marijuana to treat seriously ill individuals must be respected.
Lack of clarity in California’s medical marijuana law, however, is not an invitation for the federal government to interfere in its implementation. Harris is right to condemn this federal interference and the harm it causes law-abiding patients. After 15 years, it’s about time that Proposition 215 and its call to “implement a plan for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana” was realized.