Feds Limit Prosecution for Medical Marijuana
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Feds Limit Prosecution for Medical Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on October 21, 2009 at 13:04:09 PT
By Daniel Barlow, Vermont Press Bureau
Source: Times Argus 
Montpelier, VT -- Vermonters who use marijuana for medicinal purposes can breathe an extra sigh of relief after the Obama administration Monday directed federal prosecutors not to pursue cases against users complying with state law.Vermont is one of 14 states in the country where patients with certain illnesses or chronic conditions can use medical marijuana, but the state law has always brushed up against uncertainty as federal law under the Bush administration forbid medical uses.
"I'm glad to see my vote last year meant something," said Mark Tucci, one of 173 registered medical marijuana users in Vermont. "Obama came in saying he was going to change things and for me he finally has."Tucci is the most outspoken user of marijuana for medicinal purposes in the Green Mountain State. After being diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis in the mid-1990s, he now smokes several joints a day to ease his pain and relieve muscle spasms."This shows how smart a man Obama is," Tucci said. "It really opens the door to a more common-sense approach to medical marijuana."Vermont lawmakers legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2004, essentially exempting from state criminal law people with debilitating illnesses who use the drug to ease their pain. Last year, the Legislature changed the law by expanding the number of applicable illnesses and increasing the total number of marijuana plants that patients can have at one time.But for Vermont and the 13 other states, it was always a difficult balancing act. Federal law still classifies marijuana as a schedule one drug alongside heroin and President Bush's administration insisted on prosecuting cases despite state laws.On Monday, Obama's Justice Department issued a three-page memo to the U.S. Attorneys in each state that 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."Law enforcement officials in Vermont had not yet seen those guidelines Monday, but said the new guidance would likely be discussed for the next several months. Tom Tremblay, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety, which oversees the medical marijuana registry, said he expects to speak with the state's U.S. attorney this week."We are not interested in people who are following the law," Tremblay said. "What we are concerned about are people who are growing or selling large amounts of the drug that are far beyond normal medicinal use. That's always been our issue."Monday's announcement should clear the way for more states to enact medical marijuana laws, according to Kris Hermes, a spokesperson for Americans for Safe Access, a national advocacy group for increased medical marijuana access.Hermes said one of the top criticisms of state medical marijuana laws was the ambiguity in how they interact with federal laws. With Obama's announcement Monday, that question has been put to rest, he said."This really clears the way for state Legislatures to begin debating medical marijuana policy," he said.Vermont has seen a steady rise in the number of people on its medical marijuana registry, according to Sheri Englert, the state's medical marijuana program coordinator. She said she initially expected an increase in the registry after lawmakers expanded the applicable medical conditions, but this boost has just been in the last month or so."We're sending out a lot of packets these days," she said. "And we've been getting lots of applications in too."In addition to the 173 people on the registry, there are also 34 registered caregivers – people who agree to either grow or administer the marijuana for patients unable to do so.Windsor County State's Attorney Robert Sand, who advocates for decriminalization of marijuana, said the announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday was a "positive development" that he hopes will make way for more flexibility for states to determine their own drug policies."The possession of even one marijuana cigarette is still a federal crime," Sands said. "But the federal government never exercises its authority for amounts that low. I hope this leads to a situation that has the feds get out of the picture and allow the states to set their own path."Medical marijuana advocates in Vermont say they plan to push for a new law next year that would set up so-called compassion centers. These state-regulated centers would dispense marijuana to patients on the state registry, as opposed to the current system which has patients grow their own or buy it on the black market.Tucci, who said buying marijuana on the illegal market can be cost prohibitive for patients, especially those with low incomes, had a bad marijuana crop this year, forcing him to take out a bank loan so that he could afford to buy his medicine from a third party."On the market, you might pay $400-500 for an ounce of medicine grade marijuana," he said. "That's impossible to afford if you are living on a fixed income."Rep. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, said he will sponsor a bill in the 2010 Vermont Legislative session that would put in place a legal system for medical marijuana patients to acquire their drug. Language for the bill is still being worked on, but Bray said he envisions it being dispensed to those on the registry via local pharmacies just as any other medication is.Vermont has already had the medical marijuana debate, he said, but left out a key part of the equation: Where and how patients would get their supply. By not putting in a legal structure in place, the state is actually "feeding the drug trade" by sending patients to the illegal market, he said.Rep. David Zuckerman, P-Burlington, said centralized locations for patients to purchase medical marijuana make sense."There should be a known supplier rather than the current system, which is mostly kept in the dark," Zuckerman said. "Senior citizens with cancer should not have to go through the black market to get their medicine."Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)Author: Daniel Barlow, Vermont Press BureauPublished: October 20, 2009Copyright: 2009 Times ArgusContact: letters timesargus.comWebsite: URL: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on October 21, 2009 at 19:30:14 PT
I still find it hard to believe that we actually have a smart and wise President. Common sense has been so lacking in leadership for so darn long. Lack of concern for what the people want has been disheartening. The man sure does try. 
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Comment #11 posted by HempWorld on October 21, 2009 at 19:14:12 PT
Thank You!
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Comment #10 posted by HempWorld on October 21, 2009 at 19:13:03 PT
President Obama and his cabinet members ...
Thank You!
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on October 21, 2009 at 19:08:17 PT
I agree with you.
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Comment #8 posted by HempWorld on October 21, 2009 at 18:59:48 PT
Oops ...
Make that class # 3 of the CSA.
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Comment #7 posted by HempWorld on October 21, 2009 at 18:58:49 PT
Now we need cannabis/marijuana reclassified to
class # 2, in the CSA, based on copious scientific studies and the CDC mortality data since records were kept.And hemp (industrial) legalized and regulated, now!
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on October 21, 2009 at 18:37:35 PT
John Tyler 
I got a call yesterday from a long time friend from back east and he was so excited about what he was hearing on the news. He is not involved in reform and he is a person who has strong opinions about almost everything. He said something that surprised me. He said he didn't understand medical marijuana but since it has been a major part of my life for years now he listened. He now understands and believes that cannabis is good medicine. One person at a time and soon we will have a majority of Americans on our side. I appreciate what Obama did because it really does matter. When our President speaks people listen.
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Comment #5 posted by John Tyler on October 21, 2009 at 18:09:18 PT
no downside
The latest Obama DOJ directive has taken the media by storm and is showing up everywhere. One thing I have noticed is that there has been no big “push back” from the usual suspects. The reaction has been positive. The pundits are saying, “Well it’s about time there was some movement in this area”. OK, political guys this trial balloon went over very well. Let keep moving in the direction of legalization. The public is way ready for it. None of us are free, until all of us are free.
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on October 21, 2009 at 16:17:31 PT
Editorial says vote YES + the POLL.
US CO: Editorial: Vote ‘yes' to decriminalize marijuana in BreckenridgeWebpage: 21 Oct 2009Source: Summit Daily News (CO)As medical marijuana “dispensaries” proliferate in the state and county, Breckenridge residents this Election Day will decide whether possessing less than an ounce of the intoxicating weed should be decriminalized. There are plenty of good reasons for doing so, not the least of which is that Breckenridge voters resoundingly approved a similar, statewide measure (Amendment 44) in 2006 (although that one failed statewide). Proponents point to the non-harmful nature of marijuana consumption compared to its more common and socially accepted cousin, alcohol. While police blotters and courts are filled with an extraordinary amount of problems directly related to alcohol abuse, it's rare to ever find pot at the bottom of things like domestic abuse, bar fights, car crashes and the like.That's not to say pot is harmless. Despite statistics showing it to be less addictive than alcohol or even tobacco, many of us have known those who rely on pot as a daily opiate and fall prey to its ambition-depleting effects. Inhaling smoke of any kind is never good for the respiratory system, and there are studies showing other potential health effects from cannabis consumption. The old saw that too much of anything is bad holds true here, though, and the same can be said about many things — from alcohol and tobacco to food and even video games. But that's not really the issue here. What the Breckenridge code change would do is one thing: decriminalize less than an ounce for adults. It will not make it more available to minors, won't make it legal to smoke it on the street, won't get you out of trouble if you're stoned behind the wheel. What it says is that if you, as an adult, choose to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, you won't be busted for it. It's still a much more stringent law than those that apply to alcohol — a substance you can own as much as you want of and consume in public.So what about the notion that decriminalizing sends a message to our kids that pot is “OK?” It's hard not to arrive at that conclusion, the same way it's tough to condemn drinking outright in a county loaded with bars and liquor stores. Children will always seek to emulate adult behavior, and it's up to parents to help guide them through the minefield of these temptations. Inherent in the current state of law is the contradiction that the statistically safer drug — marijuana — is illegal while alcohol is legal, widely marketed, even celebrated in various events and festivals. Decriminalizing possession of small amounts by adults, then, makes sense, and we support a “Yes” vote on the Breckenridge question. 
CONT.-0-The POLL:Breckenridge voters: How will you vote on the marijuana decriminalization question?  -I'll vote for it 
  -I'll vote against 
  -Not sure yet 
  -Not registered/not voting
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on October 21, 2009 at 15:18:07 PT
Thank you. That was very good. I am amazed that artists can do such remarkable work.
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on October 21, 2009 at 14:05:16 PT
OT but you'll love it!
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 21, 2009 at 13:10:02 PT
Loosening Marijuana Laws from the DMN Blog
Loosening Marijuana Laws (Editorial Board Sounds Off) By Nicole Stockdale, Editor  October 21, 2009 
 Every week, we poll the members of the editorial board on a timely and divisive topic. This week, the question is:1. Would you support a medical marijuana law in Texas? 2. Would you support legalizing marijuana nationwide, even for recreational purposes?URL:
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