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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Libertarians Applaud Federal Reprieve For Medical Marijuana

The U.S. Justice Department on Monday issued new guidelines telling prosecutors they "should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana."  Below is a roundup of reactions from libertarians. At the end is a must-see video from Reason TV in which Drew Carey reports on the ongoing efforts of the Obama Justice Dept. to sentence Californian Charles Lynch to five years in prison for dispensing marijuana to the parents of a teenage cancer victim.

The Libertarian Party: This is a small step in the right direction. The federal government currently wastes tremendous resources in the War on Drugs, creating a huge, vicious, violent black market. This new policy will reduce the damage and destruction, and it will hopefully end some of the unjust prosecution of peaceful medical marijuana providers and patients.  The LP has long called for the repeal of laws that criminalize the medicinal or recreational use of drugs.



Orange Juice blog: Of course this came a bit late for Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who said last week that all the medical marijuana dispensaries in the county are operating illegally, and that “they are going to be prosecuted,” according to the L.A. Times.  Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich also has concluded that over-the-counter sales are illegal.  Maybe Obama needs to cut off all federal funding to Cooley’s and Trutanich’s offices?  The voters in California approved medical marijuana years ago, in the form of Prop. 215. Isn’t it time for all California elected officials to figure this out? [OJB included the above "DEA took my daddy" pic; not sure who's in it.]

Cato Institute:  This federalism question played out several years ago in the Supreme Court in the Raich case; Cato’s amicus brief is available here. Cato hosted Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project in March, and you can view the event here. Glenn Greenwald wrote an influential study for Cato on the successful decriminalization of drugs in Portugal.

Americans For Safe Access:  In June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich that the government had the discretion to enforce federal marijuana laws even in medical marijuana states. While the Court did not invalidate the laws of California and 12 other states, all of them were under threat of interference by the federal government. Certain questions still remain. For instance, will U.S. Attorneys be instructed at some future point to allow defendants the use of medical evidence and state law compliance in federal criminal cases? Currently, the federal government is prosecuting more than two dozen medical marijuana cases in which defendants are prevented from using medical evidence.

Reason Magazine: For a damning look at medical marijuana policies that started up Bill Clinton and continued under Bush, all while harming patients and doing nothing to combat the drug trade, watch "Raiding California" from Reason.tv:

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