« Eleventh Circuit decides only SCOTUS can decide Ring invalidates Florida's capital sentencing process | Main | Third time around, "Millenium Bomber" gets (reasonable?) longer term of 37 years in prison »

October 24, 2012

"States consider moving beyond medical marijuana"

The title of this post is the headline of this lengthy new USA Today piece.  Here are excerpts:

Now that medical marijuana is permitted in about one-third of the nation, advocates hope to move beyond therapeutic uses with ballot questions in three states that could legalize pot for recreational use.  Voters in Colorado, Washington state and Oregon face proposals to change state laws to permit possession and regulate the sale of marijuana — though the plant with psychoactive properties remains an illegal substance under federal law.

Approval in even one state would be a dramatic step that most likely would face legal challenges but could also bring pressure on the federal government to consider modifying the national prohibition on marijuana that has been in place since 1937, backers say.  "One of these states crossing that Rubicon will immediately set up a challenge to the federal government," says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Independent polls have shown proponents leading in Washington and Colorado a month or more before the election, but the outcome remains in doubt, and both sides are aware of what happened in California in 2010: The similar Proposition 19 lost 53.5% to 46.5% after an early lead in favor disappeared. "It's a similar trajectory here," says Laura Chapin,​ spokeswoman for a group opposing Colorado's Amendment 64, who predicts the proposal will be defeated....

Medical-marijuana proposals are on the ballot in three states: Arkansas, Massachusetts and Montana. The ballot issues arise as the conflict between the federal ban and more permissive states has been growing....

In California, federal prosecutors have been shutting down medical-marijuana dispensaries, sometimes threatening landlords with asset forfeiture for leasing space to pot shops.  Yet federal prosecutors typically do not go after cases of simple possession of small quantities.  In Washington state, former federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials are among the supporters of legalization.

Campaigns have been intense in Washington and Colorado.  In Oregon, St. Pierre says, marijuana advocates are less hopeful and support is not as well-financed. Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, who supports Washington's Initiative 502, says some police and prosecutors have grown frustrated at the futility of marijuana prohibition and see regulation by states as a way to take the trade out of the hands of criminals and free up the justice system to focus on more serious matters....

In Washington state, the issue is being sold as a chance to license, regulate and tax marijuana and impose a tough legal standard banning driving a vehicle while impaired by marijuana.  Backers added the drugged-driving provision after seeing opponents of California's proposition two years ago attack it for failing to address driving after smoking or otherwise ingesting pot.

Colorado's proposal would authorize state-licensed production and retail facilities but leave it to lawmakers to follow up with any driving restrictions, says Mason Tvert, co-director of a group pushing the amendment.

New Approach Washington is airing $2 million worth of TV ads in favor of Initiative 502, campaign director Alison Holcomb says.  Among them are ads featuring endorsements from two former U.S. attorneys from the Bush and Clinton administrations and a former Seattle FBI chief....

In Colorado, Chapin's opposition group, Vote No on 64, has no TV ads. It touts opposition to the measure by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, area teachers, ministers and law enforcement groups.  In Washington, the opposition group No on I-502 is led by Steve Sarich, a medical-marijuana entrepreneur, who calls the legalization initiative "a Trojan horse" for the strict anti-drugged-driving provision....

Holcomb ... says approval of the legalization initiative would demonstrate to the federal government that, as in the repeal of the prohibition on alcohol in the early 20th century, the public is ready for change.  "This is one of those issues that has to percolate up from the states," she says.  "Congress and the administration need to see that the will of voters has shifted and we are ready to try something different."

October 24, 2012 at 07:49 AM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e2017ee46873d6970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "States consider moving beyond medical marijuana":

Comments

From the USA Today article: "Now that medical marijuana is permitted in about one-third of the nation, advocates hope to move beyond therapeutic uses with ballot questions in three states that could legalize pot for recreational use."

Finally, a major outlet says what I've been saying for years: "Medical" marijuana is simply the stalking horse for recreational-use marijuana.

Thank you, USA Today.

Now if the press will only say out loud the other quasi-hidden truth, to wit, that recreational use marijuana is the stalking horse for recreational use everything else, including heroin and meth.

Still, I'm glad to see the truth coming out, even if only in dribs-and-drabs.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 24, 2012 9:20:23 AM

Bill, I don't follow your logic. why does legalization of heroin or meth necessarily follow from legalization of marijuana? Does legalization of fully automatic rifles ("machine guns") follow from legalization of semi-automatic rifles?

Posted by: onlooker | Oct 24, 2012 10:21:22 AM

onlooker --

"Bill, I don't follow your logic. why does legalization of heroin or meth necessarily follow from legalization of marijuana?"

It doesn't NECESSARILY follow, any more than recreational dope necessarily follows from "medical" dope. The stalking horse does not necessarily have the other horses behind it, but that's where they're usually going to be.

Argument A: "We've had medical marijuana for years, and the world didn't come to an end. So the time is ripe to at least try recreational marijuana."

Argument B: "We've had recreational marijuana for years, and the world didn't come to an end. So the time is ripe to at least try legalization of other drugs. After all, as we correctly saw in thinking about marijuana, what a person puts into his own body...."

That's the logic.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 24, 2012 10:46:21 AM

Bill, well I see where you are going, and I'm the first to concede I'm no logician, but isn't this the same kind of "falling dominos" of "parade of horribles" argument that folks raised about Vietnam? We have to stop the takeover of Vietnam by the Communists; otherwise all the counties will fall. But that didn't happen. Instead we lost 50,000 Americans dead, over 100,000 wounded, and more than 1,000,0000 Vietnamese dead, and a country half-destroyed. So I question the validity and force of your argument.

Posted by: onlooker | Oct 24, 2012 11:54:35 AM

Legalizing marijuana, in my opinion, will clear out the court systems considerably. Now, if an individual high on marijuana is committing other types of crimes, it's understandable that they would be arrested. However, it seems unnecessary to arrest someone who merely has marijuana in their possession. In most cases, marijuana users are not committing crimes other than using an illegal drug. As to the addictive nature of the drug, I cannot say, but as to the nature of the users, I'd say they are generally mild. As a young professional (marketing director at a personal injury firm), I would generally advise against using drugs at all, but to each his own.

Posted by: Rachel Kaylor | Oct 24, 2012 12:23:51 PM

onlooker --

"Bill, well I see where you are going, and I'm the first to concede I'm no logician, but isn't this the same kind of "falling dominos" of "parade of horribles" argument that folks raised about Vietnam?"

No.

If you believe that, as a bedrock component of individual liberty, a person has the right to put whatever substance he wants into his own body, why does that right suddenly disappear when the substance is heroin instead of pot?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 24, 2012 12:23:52 PM

What if the position is not that a person has the right to put whatever substance he wants into his own body, but instead is that a policy making marijuana illegal as a matter of federal law is not a good policy.

To put this another way, for the pro big federal government types advocating federal authority to make marijuana use illegal, what keeps that same government for outlawing the consumption of, oh, I don't know, broccoli?

Posted by: C | Oct 24, 2012 2:50:24 PM

Bill, but I don't believe folks have the right to put anything they want in their own body. If it is a highly addictive substance like heroin or meth, it will effect me when they commit crimes to feed their habit, and I have to pay for their prosecution and incarceration, or when I, as a taxpayer, have to foot the bills for their emergency hospital room visits. I don't see marijuana as a highly addictive substance or one that will cause folks to go to the emergency room.

Posted by: onlooker | Oct 24, 2012 2:52:15 PM

call me crazy, but isn't the cat already out of the bag, then, with alcohol? if the underlying principle to legalizing marijuana is that everyone has the right to put whatever substance he wants into his own body, isn't that already established by the repeal of prohibition? why is marijuana any more of a flood-gate opener than booze? seems like then, we've already started down, what appears to be, the pretty long road to hamsterdam. no? why would heroin & meth advocates need marijuana if they already have booze?

Posted by: call me crazy | Oct 24, 2012 3:07:49 PM

It's happening because people are reevaluating the consequences of criminalization. It is logical and will happen. Of course change comes in hesitation steps.

Posted by: beth | Oct 24, 2012 3:41:25 PM

Bill Otis [AKA Nancy Grace] is an extremist. Bill believes that marijuana inevitably leads to heroin and meth, pornography to rape/molestation. The problem is nescience. Fact is, alcohol, heroin, crack, meth, cocaine and tobacco [in that order] are more dangerous then marijuana.

You can put the DEA's Michele Leonhart into the same category -- she ignorant.

Leonhart's exchange at the House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing with Democratic Rep. Jared Polis in June:

POLIS: "Is crack worse for a person than marijuana?"

LEONHART: "I believe all illegal drugs are bad,"

POLIS: "Is methamphetamine worse for somebody's health than marijuana?...Is heroin worse for somebody's health than marijuana?"

LEONHART: "Again, all drugs."

POLIS: "Yes, no, or I don't know?... If you don't know this, you can look this up. As the chief administrator for the Drug Enforcement Agency, I'm asking a very straightforward question."

The multicriteria decision analysis showed that, "heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals (part scores 34, 37, and 32, respectively), whereas alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others (46, 21, and 17, respectively). Overall, alcohol was the most harmful drug (overall harm score 72), with heroin (55) and crack cocaine (54) in second and third places.

http://download.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140673610614626.pdf?id=40bade4753939e7f:7f2cbb99:12c08c993c2:-1ba61288639719918

Posted by: Huh? | Oct 24, 2012 11:19:01 PM

I see no reason why someone should not be legally free to possess for personal use any drug he wants, without fear of being arrested, imprisoned, or fined. I can see lots of reasons why the government should be able to regulate the production, distribution, sale, importation, exportation, and dispensation of drugs, including prohibiting commerce in some of them altogether. But the government makes all sorts of distinctions about which drugs to control and what level of control to impose. It should make those distinctions. Right now, however, some of those distinctions are devoid of reason and common sense. Very few controls are placed on alcohol and tobacco, highly addictive substances which kill thousands of people every year. And the strictest possible controls are placed on marijuana, which is virtually harmless and which has some well-attested therapeutic benefits. This makes no sense, and our government forfeits credibility by continuing its crusade of absolute prohibition.

Posted by: C.E. | Oct 25, 2012 12:40:50 AM

Heard this news online and I told a friend about this and cited to me other consequences about this decision and I hope they are not under the influence while making a decision.

Posted by: Drew Barty | Nov 12, 2012 12:22:42 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB