Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pay off from new DoJ policy: WI Gov. Doyle says medical marijuana restrictions senseless

The news from Wisconsin, below, is a powerful demonstration of the political value of the new DoJ medical Cannabis prosecution memorandum. This news illustrates a mistake that drug policy reformers, such as myself, can easily make.

As soon as I heard about the DoJ memorandum, my reaction was, "What kind of b.s. is it going to be? What is the real story?"

As soon as I read the memorandum, my lawyerly reaction was, "Aha! Look at this stinking Swiss cheese of loopholes. How is this going to help the folks in California who fear raids or who are already on trial or in prison?"

My initial reading was wrong. I failed to see the memorandum in the proper historical, political and symbolic context. We are habituated to expect lies and persecution from the federal government regarding the medical use of Cannabis. And in its technicalities, the federal government did not disappoint.

But the much more important fact is that in symbolic, political and historical terms, this memorandum is a formal renunciation of the "medical Cannabis is a fraud" posture of the federal government, and political actors, such as Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, get it!

Doyle: Medical marijuana restrictions senseless --

The new political environment creates:
(1) Enormous opportunities for state law reforms.

(2) Enormous pressure on HHS and FDA to move ahead on the science of Cannabis medicine to support rescheduling. To accomplish this objective, however, requires continuing effort from our movement.

(3) Support for our allies in Congress for legislation like the Truth in Trials Act, the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment, and medicalization legislation that reschedules Cannabis.

But don't take your eye off the compass and the charts. The wind is now at our back, not in our faces. But we are not yet in port. There is still a lot of water out there there that we have to sail over, before we are tied up safely at dock and ready to disembark.

I fear that there are still a lot of patients who are going to suffer without safe access to medicine, a lot of physicians who will be afraid to write a recommendation, and a lot of potential care givers who will prudently stand aside until the laws are clarified.

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