Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Published: April 29, 2005
Copyright: 2005 Los Angeles Times
Contact: [email protected]
Calif. -- When San Francisco's Board of Supervisors met Monday to
discuss how to tighten oversight of the city's 43 medical marijuana
dispensaries, Bush administration officials cheered, for all the wrong
Drug Enforcement Administration agents should have been thrilled that
the city is trying to fill the regulatory gulf created in 1996 when
Californians passed Proposition 215, vaguely sanctioning marijuana for
"any … illness for which marijuana provides relief." The DEA should be
offering to help cities draw a sharper line around legitimate medical
But no. DEA agents hailed the effort because, they said, it would give
them a paper trail to bust more patients and doctors.
The agents' attitude captures the administration's pot policy: Rather
than focusing on curbing harmful drug abuse, it's mounting arbitrary and
vindictive assaults on both states' rights and patient care. In the next
month, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the Justice
Department has the right to prosecute patients and doctors who use
medical marijuana in California and elsewhere.
The betting is that the court will side with the administration. Pot
became a federal crime three decades ago, when Congress declared that
marijuana has no accepted medical use and put it in the same class as
heroin — illustrating how far the law can stray from common sense.
Since then, specific medical benefits, such as dimming pain and helping
AIDS and cancer patients combat nausea, have been thoroughly
The administration's prosecutions have punished even those using
marijuana for purposes that no medical authority would dismiss as
recreational. For example, Angel Raich, an Oakland mother of two, used
the drug as a last resort to ease the constant pain of a brain tumor.
And Diane Monson of Oroville used cannabis to help her stay mobile
despite a degenerative spinal disease.
Local officials are trying to kill obviously bad ideas — like the
medical marijuana buyers club that opened last month in a San Francisco
welfare hotel housing substance abusers. Instead, the drug agents'
threat last week to continue their random prosecutions is likely to
derail laudable efforts to regulate Proposition 215.
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