Sick people have been used by recreational marijuana advocates. First, they hid behind medical marijuana movement, using images of suffering people to gain a toehold in their pursuit of the outright legalization of cannabis. (California voters recently refused to go along.) Then, they used the legal shield of medicinal use to boost recreational consumption in the guise of taking medicine.
Such taking advantage created a mushrooming and highly remunerative commercial marijuana distribution industry, leading in some areas to increased crime and blight–forcing LA to crack down on MJ dispensaries and limit their number. Recreational distribution also may be why an Oakland dispensary owes millions in back taxes to the Feds–now, there’s an irony. I mean, think of all the sales that resulted in such a high tax bill. There aren’t that many sick people in Oakland who actually have health maladies that could benefit from medical marijuana–unless you include “stress,” or “feeling down, man.”
Some or our fearless leaders have pursued a don’t-enforce-the-law approach to dealing with MM. This wink-wink non leadership spits in the face of the rule of law–aided and abetted by cowardly politicians, led by President Obama–who refuse to follow the principled road by amending the Controlled Substances Act (as I have repeatedly advocated). I mean, good grief, stronger drugs than marijuana–such as morphine and cocaine–can be prescribed under federal law, so why not marijuana? Moreover, the federal law explicitly states that marijuana has no medical uses. That factual falsehood in a federal statute also breeds disrespect for law.
Even worse, in recent years city officials have become complicit in the obvious stretch from medicinal to recreational distribution by actually licensing dispensaries, at least some of which are almost surely engaging in illegal recreational sales. And now, a California court has stopped the City of Long Beach from so doing. From the LA Times story:
In a decision that could upend the way California cities regulate medical marijuana, a state Court of Appeal has ruled that Long Beach’s ordinance regulating dispensaries violates federal law. The city held a lottery, issued permits to the winners and charged fees, which the three-judge panel said put it in the position of authorizing the distribution of marijuana in direct conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act, which makes the possession and sale of the drug illegal. Marijuana use remains illegal under California law except for medical purposes…
Many cities that have long allowed dispensaries, such as San Francisco and Oakland, have permit-based ordinances that let officials decide who can sell the drug. Then they charge high fees and closely regulate them. The decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles throws into doubt the legality of this approach.
Technically, using MJ medicinally constitutes a defense to the crime of personal possession in state court. The law does not authorize mass dispensing and sales. Moreover, the Feds can still charge people with personal possession under federal law, and medicinal use there is no defense. These facts being so, the court is clearly right that a city cannot legally license a dispensary to engage in what is a blatantly illegal activity.
This is good. When government officials explicitly enable law breaking by city ordinance–and seek to have government benefit financially from that law breaking–they become complicit in the law breaking, undermining the rule of law and sowing disrespect for proper governance. Indeed, I think this whole issue proves the old adage, give an inch and they’ll surely take a mile.