It’s called law enforcement, and it’s long overdue.
I have long criticized recreational marijuana promoters for using people who need medical marijuana as the front for their highs. This has led to a huge commercial industry raking in millions of dollars, which even California courts are now stopping. Finally, the Feds are cracking down. From the LA Times story:
The Obama administration’s crackdown on California’s highly profitable medical marijuana industry represents a dramatic departure from the low-key approach it has long pursued. California’s four U.S. attorneys said Friday that they are taking aim at large-scale growers and dispensary owners who are raking in millions of dollars while falsely claiming that their medical marijuana operations comply with state law, which does not allow for-profit sales.
In the early days of President Obama‘s tenure, Atty. Gen. Eric Holder announced that prosecutors would not target medical marijuana users and caregivers, as long as they followed state laws. But as the risk of prosecution diminished, storefront dispensaries and enormous growing operations proliferated in California, often in brazen defiance of zoning laws and local bans. “That is not what the California voters intended or authorized, and it is illegal under federal law,” said Andre Birotte Jr., the Los Angeles-based U.S. attorney for the Central District. “It does not allow this brick-and-mortar, Costco-Wal-Mart-type model that we see across California.”
If this makes it harder for people with medical conditions, blame the “I’m so Wasted!” Chorus.
When Med. M was first passed, I warned against this. I saw that behind the AIDS patient trying to keep his appetite up from wasting disease, and the diabetic seeking relief from neuropathy, were guys with bloodshot eyes smoking doobies with a big grin on their faces–and blowing smoke into the television cameras.
Still, things didn’t need to get out of hand with a little discipline from local officials. But too many were derelict, preferring instead to look the other way rather than ensure that the restrictions in the California law were carefully followed.
Distribution started small. Idealistic liberals created quaint non profit co-ops to distribute “medicine” to the people who needed it. And the media swooned. But soon, the flower children were forced out by hard core capitalists. And local authorities enabled the transition, seeking to fill city coffers with taxes from drug sales. Media helped, with biased stories and one marijuana pusher even offered his own reality show on the Discovery Channel. (Stop the taping!)
Federal officials also deserve some blame for the fiasco. With some real trepidation, I voted for the Proposition 215 to permit medical use, despite knowing it conflicted with federal laws. But I was hoping against hope that the new law would get our cowardly federal officials to amend the Controlled Substances Act to allow those who would benefit from marijuana medically to obtain it legally. No such pluck. Nothing on that front from either the political left or right. Instead, presidential candidates promised not to enforce federal law, further emboldening the commercial marijuana industry.
And now, as they say, le deluge. The moral of the story? If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right. Finally, and at long last, please: Amend the CSA!