Online Debate — US News & World Report: “Should federal authorities be able to close medical marijuana dispensaries in California?”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 26, 2011

    US News & World Report‘s ‘Debate Club’ is hosting an online forum right now regarding the question: “Should federal authorities be able to close medical marijuana dispensaries in California?”

    The forum includes rational commentaries from various drug policy reformers, including myself and MPP‘s Morgan Fox. Predictably, the debate also features several irrational essays from professional drug warriors such as Kevin Sabet, Peter Bensinger, and John Redman — who make claims like “We have seen that dispensaries have increased drug use and crime, and they are linked to numerous robberies, muggings, and murders” and “Marijuana, with 468 different chemicals and more cancer-causing agents and tar than tobacco cigarettes, is also a dangerous highway and workplace hazard.”

    Fortunately, visitors can not only respond to these allegations on the US News & World Report website here, but they can also vote ‘down’ the commentaries that they disagree with. (Not surprisingly, the present point total of the Sabet/Bensinger/Redman essays is a combined total of -1031.) Conversely, ‘Debate Club’ visitors can vote ‘up’ the viewpoints they support.

    To join the debate, click here.

    An excerpt of my commentary appears below.

    Obama Should Keep Promise on Medical Marijuana

    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.

    … 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–local and statewide efforts to regulate this industry accordingly. The Obama administration’s proposed actions in California will only result in limiting patients’ regulated, safe access to medicine. It will also cost California jobs and needed tax revenue.

    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, 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.

    47 responses to “Online Debate — US News & World Report: “Should federal authorities be able to close medical marijuana dispensaries in California?””

    1. Joseph says:

      I would argue that the federal government has no Constitutional authority to infringe on any intrastate Cannabis industry. Interstate is an entirely other matter, if monies or barter for something of value is offered in exchange for goods.

      [Editor’s note: You can argue such, like the top notch legal team representing Angel Reich and Diane Munson before the US Supreme Court in 2005 did, but, unfortunately, the court by a large majority ruled that even giving away cannabis for no money in a state that allows for such–like state laws do for medical cannabis–is still a federally-controlled transaction.

      Justice Thomas dissented in the case arguing that if the majority opinion ruling stands and is sensible, then if a grandmotherly-type knits a quilt for her grandmotherly-type neighbor, then this is a ‘federal’ transaction subject for review. Unfortunately, the majority’s side prevailed and it can now be said that even the majority of so-called conservatives on the court ruled that in effect everything is a federal action subject to rules and regulations.

      Ironically, the Obama administration and supporters of federal healthcare reform now cite Gonzalez vs Raich as justification for the federal govt compelling health insurance.]

    2. M.Smith says:

      If that statement by them three bums isnt a lie then our government is the best in the world…aka yeah the Phuck right…Marijuana is safer than cigs so you telling me that cigs are safer yet they causing millions of death each year? Please…to the people like them who want them dollars in they pocket they will forsure say what they want with no evidence backing it up

    3. JIm Zawalich says:

      I guess “WE THE PEOPLE” Means nothing these day’s!!!!! We vote things in for our states but then the Government “FEDS” Make up new laws and persecute us for our votes!!! Why do we vote? When It doesn’t even matter???

    4. Anthony says:

      Why is it that as long as a major corporation has control of a substance its legal. Such as all the pharmaceuticals pills that cause hundreds of illnesses and deaths. or the major tabacco company’s, Alcohol company’s. Theres Genetically modified foods that kill and cause cancers and hormone spurts. All of this is legal to sell and distribute. Then you have marijuana the corporations do not have control over so its illegal. Who is in charge of our Government then ??? Sounds like the Corporations to me .

    5. Joseph says:

      Let’s bring this to a head… If President Obama’s stance is that medical Cannabis is a violation of Federal law he should be arrested and impeached for permitting the cultivation of Cannabis in the White House garden. If his stance is that medical Cannabis is a right of the States and of the People then let him issue Executive Orders putting a stop to his administration’s intervention in the medical Cannabis states.

    6. Your Royal HIGHness says:

      Dear friends,

      I wanted to let you know about a new petition I created on We the People, a
      new feature on WhiteHouse.gov, and ask for your support. Will you add your
      name to mine? If this petition gets 25,000 signatures by November 25, 2011,
      … the White House will review it and respond!

      We the People allows anyone to create and sign petitions asking the Obama
      Administration to take action on a range of issues. If a petition gets
      enough support, the Obama Administration will issue an official response.

      You can view and sign the petition here:


    7. Jed The Head says:

      I want to know who owns your body? Does the government have the right to force you to be vaccinated or keep you from consuming things they deem as unhealthy? Can they restrict what you can eat? Can they force you to be drug tested before receiving financial support like welfare or social security or even farm subsides? How far can they go before we take a stand against government in our personal lives?

    8. Allan Collison says:

      Obama won’t keep his promise on Medical Marijuana. Isn’t it due time we knock it off with the high hopes nonsense and learn to recognize an enemy when we see one?

    9. FED UP says:

      We need a new petition started. we are being ingnored