The National Post
Anyone with an interest in the debate over medical marijuana might want to keep an eye on California and Colorado, where prospects for the pot business have never been brighter. It’s not far-fetched to suggest a combination of financial need and the Obama administration’s benign neglect could make California the first state to legalize recreational use of marijuana next year.
Without making a big deal of it, the White House has made life a lot easier for pot enthusiasts. Although 13 states have approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes, it remains a crime under federal law, which means you may be free under state law to open a dispensary and start offering various types of pot, but can’t be sure a federal narcotics team won’t bust in and drag you off to jail anyway. If that happens, the U.S. Federal Court won’t let you use the state law in your defence.
The Bush administration, being staunchly anti-drug, raided regularly and often. But Barack Obama, during his campaign for the presidency, promised to lay off on the heavy-handed approach, and soon after taking office made good on his word. Attorney General Eric Holder said in February Washington would suspend the raids, and concentrate instead on dealers who violate both federal and state law.
That was like Christmas in July for pot enthusiasts and set off a surge, especially in Colorado, where a wave of “ganjapreneurs” have fuelled a growth industry in marijuana dispensaries. In doing so, they’ve pretty much shot down any pretense that medical marijuana can be liberalized without simultaneously increasing recreational access.
The Denver Westword, an “alternative” newspaper that has been following the boom, notes that since the state refused to limit the number of clients a dispensary could serve, it has been receiving applications from 400 new “patients” a day. “To meet that demand, at least 70 Colorado dispensaries have opened, forty in the metro area alone,” since July. Some come complete with lounges and munchies. There is such a variety of pot now on offer, the Westword is advertising for a pot critic to rate the competition.
It doesn’t take much to become a patient. A Westword reporter managed it with $200 and a note from a chiropractor. The federal Drug Enforcement Agency says two of the top three reasons for using medical marijuana are “chronic pain” and “mood disorders,” both catch-alls that could include anything from cancer to a bruised elbow. Other justifications include stress, anxiety, headaches, depression -- which would take in the bulk of the working world on any given day.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
The National Post