June 26, 2005
Letter to Editor: Federal interference hinders medical cannabis dispensary regulation, hurts patients
Posted by Gary Storck
Jun 26, 2005
I was distressed to see writer John Soltes accept the official version of recent federal raids on medical cannabis dispensaries in the San Francisco Bay Area as fact, "Marijuana clubs turn out to be large drug ring" (June 25) click here
If federal authorities were not trying to subvert California law, it would be a lot easier to regulate medical cannabis dispensaries. And while Justice Stevens suggested Congress as an answer to the medical marijuana dilemma in the recent Supreme Court ruling, Congress is not representative of the American public they supposedly represent. Polls consistently find about 80% support for medical marijuana. But in a vote in Congress June 15 for a budget amendment that would have prohibited the use of federal funds to target patients in providers in the states that have legalized it, only 161 members, or about 37%, voted aye. In Wisconsin, members split along party lines, with the states four Democrats voting to prohibit targeting patients and our four Republicans voting in favor of arresting the sick and dying using marijuana legally under state laws. There is no other way to parse their votes.
Had Congress acted, the resources used interfering in matters that should be left to state authorities could have been fighting terrorism or protecting homeland security. The fact remains that these dispensaries were well established and served thousands of patients who will now need to find new sources.
Under federal law, every dispensary is considered a drug trafficker, paying rent is considered money laundering and a business meeting is conspiracy. The kind of record keeping required for proper regulation leaves a paper trail guaranteeing long mandatory minimum sentences for people providing medicine legally under state laws. Picking off dispensaries and claiming they are actually large criminal enterprises is just a way to divide and conquer medical marijuana supporters.
Until Congress does its job and passes the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, HR 2087, which reschedules marijuana so physicians can prescribe it and lets states set their own policies, a well-regulated distribution system is impossible.
Even if it turns out this went above and beyond medical use, the law still needs to be changed. Until federal authorities butt out, states with legal access to medical marijuana will have a harder time regulating medical use when cooperation with state law means federal offenses carrying long prison terms. In the meantime, there are patients who need this medicine and ways must be found to provide it to them. Generations of American patients have suffered because Congress failed to act. That withholding medical marijuana by force is the official policy of this nation in this day and age is a blight on everything this nation is supposed to stand for.
Is My Medicine Legal YET?
Link to the letter: click here
June 16, 2005
Pubdate: 17 June 2005
Author: Gary Storck
Kenneth Burns' report on bar time chaos exposed a side of Madison that few residents ever get to see ("The State Street stumble,") 5/6/05.
It is obvious a great deal of police funding is spent dealing with people who routinely consume too much alcohol. While no one in their right mind would want to reinstate alcohol prohibition, marijuana prohibition is denying people who react badly to alcohol a safer alternative.
Madison has a long history of tolerating marijuana use predating passage of the landmark Madison General Ordinance 23.20 in April 1977 with over 60% of the vote. If alcohol, with many negative consequences, is socially acceptable, shouldn't cannabis also be?
Envision a Madison where adults could escape the bar scene for licensed Dutch-style coffeeshops where they could obtain cannabis to consume there or take home. Regulation would not only bring the cannabis market aboveground, but it would create an alternative to socializing with alcohol and all that comes with it.
June 09, 2005
Madison NORML listener commentary on The Mic 92.1
Posted by Gary Storck
June 9, 2005
Here is the guest editorial I wrote and recorded for 92.1, the MIc, click here Madison's progressive voice. It will also be posted on their blog:
I'm Gary Storck from Madison NORML with this listener commentary on The Mic 92 point 1...In the flawed 6-3 ruling in the Raich medical marijuana case, Justice John Paul Stevens suggested that medical marijuana supporters take up the issue with Congress.
The truth is, Congress created this problem in 1970 by passing the Controlled Substances Act, wrongly classing marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug with no medical use and a high abuse potential. While medical marijuana legislation has so far fared poorly in Congress, another opportunity to do the right thing awaits.
Next week, Congress will vote on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would forbid the Justice Department from spending money on arresting or prosecuting medical-marijuana patients in states where it is legal. The amendment was defeated last year but received 152 votes, including those of Wisconsin's 4 Democratic congress members.
In addition, the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, HR 2087, was introduced May 5 and now has 36 cosponsors, including Rep. Tammy Baldwin. Prior versions of this bill have been bottled up in committee by the GOP leadership, without a hearing or a single vote. Recently George Bush has been saying his nominations deserve a simple vote up or down. Medical marijuana legislation deserves the same. Republicans like to talk about family values and a culture of life while supporting the status quo that criminalizes some of our most defenseless citizens for the simple act of trying to live.
Citizens must now speak out on behalf of patients and make their support known and continue to do so until Congress does the right thing. Rather than waiting for accident or illness to strike you or a loved one - and finding out the only medicine that can help is illegal - please let Congress know this issue needs to be resolved now. I'm Gary Storck from Madison NORML with this listener commentary on The Mic 92 point 1...