By Paul Armentano
US News & World Report’s ‘Debate Club’ is hosting an online forum right now regarding the question: “Should federal authorities be able to close medical marijuana dispensaries in California?”
The forum includes rational commentaries from various drug policy reformers, including myself and MPP’s Morgan Fox. Predictably, the debate also features several irrational essays from professional drug warriors such as Kevin Sabet, Peter Bensinger, and John Redman — who make claims like “We have seen that dispensaries have increased drug use and crime, and they are linked to numerous robberies, muggings, and murders” and “Marijuana, with 468 different chemicals and more cancer-causing agents and tar than tobacco cigarettes, is also a dangerous highway and workplace hazard.”
Fortunately, visitors can not only respond to these allegations on the US News & World Report website here, but they can also vote ‘down’ the commentaries that they disagree with. (Not surprisingly, the present point total of the Sabet/Bensinger/Redman essays is a combined total of -1031.) Conversely, ‘Debate Club’ visitors can vote ‘up’ the viewpoints they support.
To join the debate, click here.
An excerpt of my commentary appears below.
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama stated, “The basic concept of using medical marijuana … [is] entirely appropriate,” and pledged, “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws on this issue.”
As president, Obama promised, “Science and the scientific process must inform and guide [the] decisions of my administration.”
Yet recent actions of the administration belie these assurances.
… If the federal government is truly concerned about the diversion of medical marijuana or its potential abuse in California then it would be better served to encourage–rather than to discourage–local and statewide efforts to regulate this industry accordingly. The Obama administration’s proposed actions in California will only result in limiting patients’ regulated, safe access to medicine. It will also cost California jobs and needed tax revenue.
Legislating medical marijuana operations and prosecuting those who act in a manner that is inconsistent with California law and voters’ sentiment should be a responsibility left to the state, not the federal government. It is time for this administration to fulfill the assurances it gave to the medical cannabis community and to respect the decisions of voters and lawmakers in states that recognize its therapeutic efficacy.