The International AIDS Conference in Washington this week saw foreign drug users and sex workers excluded even amidst a rising clamor for ending the drug war to help stop the spread of disease. Chronicle feature story here.
In one of the largest medical marijuana demonstrations in years, as many as a thousand people came out in Oakland Monday to let President Obama know he needs to end the federal crackdown on dispensaries. Chronicle feature story here.
Four academic specialists on drug policy have come together to pen "Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know." It's a pretty handy primer. Chronicle book review here.
The federal government is moving to shut down the nation's largest and highest-profile medical marijuana dispensary operation, filing papers to seize properties in Oakland and San Jose where Harborside Health Center does business.
Copies of the federal Complaint for Forfeiture were taped to the front doors of the two dispensaries Tuesday, alleging that they were "operating in violation of federal law."
Medical marijuana advocates, as well as some state and local officials, decried the action, saying it hurts patients in legitimate need of the drug and breaks repeated promises by President Obama's Justice Department that it was targeting only operations near schools and parks or otherwise in violation of the state's laws. [LA Times]
They're not even pretending it's about state law anymore. Harborside has a permit from the City of Oakland and pays millions in taxes to the state of California. They've been covered extensively in the press, and featured on the Discovery Channel program "Weed Wars". Everyone knows exactly what goes on inside Harborside because we've seen it with our own eyes: they provide high-quality medical cannabis and other services to qualified patients. This is the definition of a legal and well-regulated medical marijuana dispensary.
So how are the feds justifying their attempt to shut down the most responsible business in the industry? They are claiming, I kid you not, that it's just too successful:
I now find the need to consider actions regarding marijuana superstores such as Harborside. The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state’s medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need. – U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag
This is beyond outrageous and it flies in the face of even the most recent excuses put forward by the Attorney General and the President himself when attempting to justify their escalating war on medical marijuana.
By targeting Harborside solely on the basis of its reputation as the nation's "biggest" medical marijuana provider, DOJ forgets something rather important: it's the biggest because it's the best. Harborside is a model of safe, secure, patient-oriented medical marijuana services. It's also a model of legal compliance, and any effort to shut its doors simply obliterates the Attorney General's recent claims that DOJ is merely upholding local laws. He really should stop saying that.
It boggles the mind to imagine what sort of perverted logic is driving Obama's vicious assault on a voting block that helped elect him four years ago. What little the President has said on the matter in recent months is now even more obviously false, and if it isn’t about upholding state laws, then the question of the Administration's true agenda is something about which we can only speculate. It isn't winning him any votes, that's for sure.
Today, anyone who's tried to make excuses for Obama's horrible handling of all this should just stop. Anyone who says this President is secretly a friend of the marijuana reform movement should close their mouth. Anyone who's claimed that "they're only busting bad dispensaries" can cut the crap. This is a war. It's Obama's war. And to my friends who are too afraid of Mitt Romney right now to criticize Obama, I say you're making our President more dangerous by meeting his mistakes with silence.
If you don’t want Obama to destroy medical marijuana in America, this would be a good time to speak up about it.
Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday she may be open to making changes in federal law surrounding medical marijuana. That's her strongest statement yet on the issue. Chronicle story here.
Federal prosecutors have targeted Harborside Health Center, California's iconic largest dispensary, with an asset forfeiture action. But Harborside isn't just going to roll over and play dead. Chronicle story here.
We review three books on various aspects of marijuana culture. There's some pretty good stuff there, too. Chronicle review essay here.
Last week's middle of the week holiday made things fairly quiet on the medical marijuana front, but it looks like Massachusetts voters will have a chance to join the ranks of the medical marijuana states in November, and other efforts are underway in some surprising places. Chronicle update here.
Scandal in the Pinellas County, Florida, Sheriff's Office over its efforts to bust indoor marijuana growers is providing plenty of fodder for the sheriff's challengers this campaign season. Chronicle feature story here.
Seriously, just take for example this one item from Sabet's list of things he likes about the drug war:
Intervention: If individuals do start to use drugs, we know that brief interventions (by doctors, coaches, parents, faith leaders, or others) do a pretty good job at stopping the progression of use from non-dependence to addiction.
Others!? Really, Kevin? By "others" did you by any chance mean "cops with machine guns, battering rams, drug sniffing dogs, and flash bang grenades? Cause if you wanna talk about intervention…well that's who's been intervening. When the government hears you might have MARIJUANA in your basement, they don't send a "faith leader" to talk to you about it.
You can try to paint over prohibition, but you'll need a whole hell of a lot of spackle to stuff the bullet holes. The drug war isn't just a big counseling program, it's a bloody f#%king mess and everybody knows that's what it is because we get our news from watching the damn news, not from reading Kevin Sabet for breakfast.
Pretending our drug policy is all about treatment and prevention might feel good to the professional spokespeople who get paid to say so, but it doesn't work in a world that's watching as a war unfolds before us. All that happy crap about helping people is great and good, but we're also watching every day as the drug war destroys lives right in front of our faces and we want to know what's being done about that. Talking about treatment isn’t an acceptable answer to our questions about the continuing destruction that's being done with the billions of dollars that aren't spent on treatment.
After all, if you can't acknowledge the very worst about the drug war when defending it, you aren't really defending it at all. If responsible adults don't get roughed up and arrested for taking drugs in Kevin Sabet's essays and speeches, then it stands to reason that responsible adults shouldn’t have to get roughed up and arrested for taking drugs in real life either.
Follow Scott Morgan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drugblogger
DrugWarFacts.org, a publication of Common Sense for Drug Policy, is an in-depth compilation of key facts, stats and quotes on the full range of drug policy issues, excerpted from expert publications on the subjects. The Chronicle is running a series of info items from DrugWarFacts.org -- check out this week's installment here.
It looks like Massachusetts has a good shot at becoming the 18th medical marijuana state. An initiative there has qualified for the ballot. Chronicle story here.