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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CA: OPED: Mr President, Respect The Voters' Will On Pot
Title:US CA: OPED: Mr President, Respect The Voters' Will On Pot
Published On:2011-11-27
Source:Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Fetched On:2011-11-28 06:01:09
MR. PRESIDENT, RESPECT THE VOTERS' WILL ON POT

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.
These actions include:

n The IRS has assessed crippling penalties on tax-paying medical
cannabis facilities in California by denying these operations from
filing standard expense deductions.

n The Department of Treasury has strong-armed local banks and other
financial institutions into closing their accounts with medicinal
marijuana operators.

n The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms has sternly warned
firearms dealers not to sell guns to medical cannabis consumers, and
stated that patients who otherwise legally possess firearms are in
violation of federal law and may face criminal prosecution.

n The Drug Enforcement Administration has rejected a nine-year-old
administrative petition that called for hearings regarding the
federal rescheduling of marijuana for medical use, ignoring extensive
scientific evidence of its medical efficacy.

n The National Institute on Drug Abuse rejected an FDA-approved
protocol to allow for clinical research assessing the use of cannabis
to treat post-traumatic stress disorder; a spokesperson for the
agency conceded, "We generally do not fund research focused on the
potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana."

n The DEA has reduced the total number of federally qualified
investigators licensed to study plant marijuana in humans to 14 nationwide.

In recent months, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, along with the
four U.S. attorneys from California, announced plans for a
coordinated effort against operations in California that provide
access to cannabis for those patients qualified to use the substance
in accordance with state law. Since that time U.S. attorneys have
sent eviction notices to the landlords of several of the state's more
prominent medical cannabis providers, causing several to close their
doors and others to initiate a slew of federal lawsuits. Federal
officials have also threatened to sanction local financial
institutions that hold accounts with cannabis-related businesses. At
least one U.S. attorney has even gone so far as to threaten to
federally prosecute print publishers who accept ad revenue from
medical cannabis facilities. (This paper is one such publisher.)

Does anyone really believe that this is an appropriate use of scarce
federal resources?

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 --
statewide and local efforts to regulate this industry accordingly.
The Obama administration's troubling actions in California will only
result in limiting adults' regulated, safe access to cannabis
therapy, it will also cost California jobs and needed tax revenue.
Finally, these actions will most likely stifle efforts by local
lawmakers in cities like Vallejo from moving forward with the
implementation local regulations that seek to license and authorize
medical cannabis facilities in a manner that best serves their
proprietors and the public.

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 and local
officials, 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.

Paul Armentano

Vallejo
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