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

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 thoughts

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Dear friends,
    I wanted to let you know about a new petition I created on We the People, a
    new feature on, 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. 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. 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. California should stand up to the feds, because California is a State and is among the united like the other 49 States. That is why I say, “Save the United States!”.
    End the cannabis prohibition!

  10. You know, we could argue that prohibiting families in America from having more than, say, two children per household would decrease the pregnancy and population rate. Just in the same way that we do prevent “drug use” by prohibiting cannabis. I just don’t see the logic behind prohibition in general.

  11. There are many ways to bring the current federal marijuana laws into legal debate. Commerce clause, religious freedom to name two. In a since the feds do have the right to raid medical dispensaries, it does not mean they should. Cannabis is medicine, it’s an herb, that’s what herbs are, they flavor food, and they heal the sick. Common sense or no common sense, what we need is public opinion.

  12. Joseph? Obama needs to get Impeached for growing Cannabis in the White House garden?? You must watch Fox news?? Must be leftover Hemp plants George Washington had grown?

  13. what’s missing here is acknowledgement of reality from the feds, because once it is confirmed in a court of law that cannabis is being used as medicine then it’s prohibition is no longer valid according to the CSA. This is why our gov’t is cracking down on sick people: because big pharma, cigarette and alcohol companies are afraid of competing with legal weed — mainly because we can grow it ourselves! We need to stand up for this basic human right and challenge their failed policy in court. Anybody want to join a class action lawsuit?

  14. The whole change that you made in there is a mess… What bothered you with the sight the way it was?? You had not enough business to do and you waste your time changing what was good so far?? it doesnt make sence anymore… where are the fotos in every new post ?? What was so wrong with them ?? There is a say …!! As if we had not enough things to do we change and confuse what needed no change…

  15. Pingback: Anonymous
    Marijuana is increasingly becoming the drug of choice among young adults in the United States, while use of methamphetamines is waning, according to a national survey of drug use released on Thursday.
    Overall, 8.9 percent of the U.S. population or 22.6 million Americans aged 12 and older used illicit drugs in 2010, up from 8.7 percent in 2009 and 8 percent in 2008, according to the survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
    Marijuana use appeared to be fueling the increase, with some 17.4 million Americans — or 6.9 percent of the population — saying they used marijuana in 2010, up from 14.4 million or 5.8 percent of the population in 2007.
    Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the United States, said increases are especially prominent in states in which medical marijuana use is legal.
    “Emerging research reveals potential links between state laws permitting access to smoked medical marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use,” Kerlikowske said in a statement

  17. The petition to remove cannabis from schedule 1 is the one I am waiting to hear Obama answer,,he has had time to prepare an answer this time and I think the petition will out him in a cut bait or fish position on mmj.
    The removal of cannabis from schedule 1 will result in legalization,,longer than some tactics but quicker than never.

  18. It makes people fear marijuana because their government says it is so dangerous it must be prohibited.
    According to Title VII Office of National Drug Control Policy
    Reauthorization Act of 1998: H11225:
    Responsibilities. –The Director– […]
    (12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office
    of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the
    Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that–is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled
    Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); andbhas not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;
    It makes people fear their government when marijuana is considered so dangerous that even testing it for medical efficacy is prohibited.
    What government of the people,for the people,by the people would have a bureaucracy that is required to lie,buy false science and create propaganda against it’s own people?
    Only a government that is owned by corporate entities that want their agenda followed,regardless of science,practical experience and history.

  19. At the time of this post only 2 we the people petitions have a response. Student loans and The Fair tax. I figure the MJ petitions will be last with a response. If they even bother to address the issue. I am so glad it is a highly political issue now. There will not be a second term because of the back pedalling by the yes we can yoyo.

  20. To the fools who say, Vote or let’s sign a petition ;
    In California we did vote & sign petitions but they don’t care because they dictate & overturned ” the peoples ” vote .
    In the absence of regulated and licensed dispensaries many patients will likely be forced to obtain marijuana from street dealers and gangs which will undoubtably create additional law enforcement costing money & public safety problems for cities & counties throughout California . Additionally cash starved cities and counties will lose the abilities to tax and regulate cannabis, losing millions of dollars in tax revenue that would otherwise be available .

  21. If Joseph means the one and only DEA approved grower, point taken. The fact that there are ANY government supplied medical users should have made the erroneous scheduling a moot point years ago, not to mention Marinol (I wouldn’t want 100% THC) and the ridiculous fact of the government holding a patent.
    The DEA stands by the classification…R from TX Lamar Smith won’t let the issue go to a discussion in congress…but recommendations from actual MD’s are ignored or even dismissed as quackery.
    Add to that the complete lack of constitutional protections on this issue by most of the current justices and one can practically smell the corruption within all the branches of government.
    There is to this day no valid arguement for cannabis criminalization to begin with.
    And the interstate commerce arguement is pure hogwash. It will grow in all states, from Hawaii to Alaska, coast to coast and north to south in the contiguous states, with no actual need to cross state lines. I’m sure it crosses lines (as in organized crime) we don’t see as well being a threat to certain corporate interests, which is what the prohibition really seems to be about, but our government is not supposed to favor either over We the People.
    Vote Independent…send the message to the big parties: You work for us our you don’t work at all.

  22. President Obama has a lot on his shoulders no doubt, cleaning messes up from the past two presidents. He shouldn’t be expected to micromanage everything, but hen the government can waste 2.5 million in tax dollars for raids in MMJ dispens. or ignoring the fact that this is going on.
    We aren’t stupid there is something bigger than just the president from keeping this legal or democracy. It is money and the face(s) that are behind that money stay hidden well and make their sponsors keep the laws the same, which destroys democracy in its tracks.

  23. Anti-vaccination hysteria and GMO fearmongering was not something I expected to see in these comments. I thought most NORML supporters were pro-science, yet I still see people falling for these fearmongering campaigns based on poorly done studies and pseudoscience. GMO foods and mandatory vaccinations pose absolutely no risk to your health, and this has been supported by scientific evidence. No wonder the legalization movement can’t move forward, people still buy into this Alex Jones nonsense, and have the nerve to tell America to “wake up”. You’ve been duped, folks, you’re the ones who need to wake up. Colloidal silver and homeopathic remedies are quack medicine.

  24. They say it increases crime yet in San Diego where there were 188 dispensaries, we have had the lowest crime rates in a generation and we have the lowest crime rates for a city our size period.
    So when the City Attorney closes the 188 dispensaries with fear, he will increase crime in San Diego, increase unemployment in San Diego and decrease city revenue from lack of rental income taxes, state income taxes and fees the city could have easily charged dispensaries to be licensed.

  25. I got rid of my sticks and rocks, just I wouldn’t be tempted to go the Washington DC(Department of Corruption) and hurt them there no good low down anti-Freedom, anti-Constitution, anti-Commerce anti-American prohibitionist types.
    I acn got get some new rocks and sticks if ya wana me too.. u morons!

  26. If the words ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.

  27. Just face it. Your country hates you and wants to invade your personal sovereignty by not letting you put a 100% natural organic plant into your body for your own medical benefit. If you all really gave a shit, you would head to one of the many Occupy Wall Street protests with your stoner friends if you can get them off the couch. But, “the man” knows that we are weak and will continue to suppress us. Fight back for once.

  28. Watch this Lamar Smith. The bill he pushed through bout even talking bout a contolled substance being illegal. WHAT? That means the whole NORML thing would become illegal. It is intended for other countries but change one word and goodbye to any more legal weed thinking in the US. This guy needs to go.

  29. Normally, I would never wish harm on anther person..
    however, there is exceptions,,
    I do wish Mr Smith some issue that requires (this quack-job) Lamar to resign his post.. maybe a family emergency or health issue would be perfect.. anything to get the bottleneck to go away and let freedom ring for a change.
    when is karma going to take this one out,, does he have a hooker on the side,, is he a walking campaign criminal one change away?? has to be something…

  30. #22 ClayGooding says:
    “The removal of cannabis from schedule 1 will result in legalization,,longer than some tactics but quicker than never.”
    Absolutely correct, Clay!
    In fact, cannabis doesn’t belong in the schedule of Controlled Substances Act whatsoever, and especially as Schedule 1. Historically, cannabis was ‘temporarily’ placed in the Schedule 1 classification as a matter of governmental dishonesty, while the Shafer Commission wasn’t finished with their government-funded scientific investigation of cannabis. The Nixon regime was expecting the commission to report enough negative aspects of cannabis to justify it’s placement in the CSA Schedules. When the actually honest and thorough commission report came out and recommended de-criminalizing cannabis, Nixon dismissed the report as ‘gutter science’.
    There is enough authority within the Executive Branch to shift cannabis out of Schedule 1 classification, or out of the CSA Schedules altogether, all without the intervention of Congress. Between the POTUS, the Attorney General, the Secretary of DHHS, the ONDCP’s Drug Tzar, and the head of the DEA, there are at least 5 persons with the power to affect that change. Without some dramatic paradigm shift, that change will never happen — the head of the DEA and the Drug Tzar have been ordered at least twice to change cannabis Schedule 1 classification by DEA Administrative Law Judges.
    Granted, current & prevailing international treaties such as the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotics would have to be modified — the USA can withdraw from that treaty through executive actions, with only outright re-legalization requiring that treaty be amended and reauthorized in the Senate. Other countries, such as Bolivia, are already going through that process with the 1961 Single Convention in regard to cocaine (actually coca leaves).
    Here’s what adds insult to injury IMVHO: 3 new trade treaties that are working their way through Congress have been conveniently re-characterized as ‘agreements’ instead of ‘treaties’, which bypasses the constitutional requirement that the Senate approve them with a 66% majority approval. Most of our politicians of both political parties are corrupt beyond redemption, and need to be kicked out of office at the very least, Obama included.

  31. I have a dream…. i want to start a group and call it “Pot smokers untied… and we shall unite!” And Call for full rebellion, attract interest, unite supporters… and be comical about the address recently by the drug czar that simply made all users feel stupid.. noooo we are motivated for TRUTH AND EQUAL TREATMENT…. WE NEED TO COME OUT AND BE REAL…. WE NEEED TO START SMOKING OUR MEDS IN PUBLIC…. REFUSING TO PAY TICKETS FOR MARIJUANA, SKIPPING UNNECESSARY DRUG REHAB, PAYING FINES, ACTING LIKE WE DESERVE TO BE TREATED LIKE CRIMINALS… WE NEED TO ACT AS THOUGH THE LAW FORBIDDING FULL MARIJUANA USE IS ABOLISHED… WE PLEADED, PETITIONED, REBUTTALED… NOW WE NEED TO ACT…. I ONLY SEE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE!!!! -HDT. Lets start planting????? I posted that before but i used the wrong email because i hit the wrong button on my new phone Rusty san bernardino/san diego CA

  32. I enclosed a copy of the Drug Czar’s letter from the Whitehouse for those of you who might had missed it… Below it is my opinion…
    What We Have to Say About Legalizing Marijuana
    By Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
    When the President took office, he directed all of his policymakers to develop policies based on science and research, not ideology or politics. So our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug’s effects.
    According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health- the world’s largest source of drug abuse research – marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment. We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms. Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about what this means for public health – especially among young people who use the drug because research shows their brains continue to develop well into their 20’s. Simply put, it is not a benign drug.
    Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses. That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine. To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.
    As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem. We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.
    That is why the President’s National Drug Control Strategy is balanced and comprehensive, emphasizing prevention and treatment while at the same time supporting innovative law enforcement efforts that protect public safety and disrupt the supply of drugs entering our communities. Preventing drug use is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences in America. And, as we’ve seen in our work through community coalitions across the country, this approach works in making communities healthier and safer. We’re also focused on expanding access to drug treatment for addicts. Treatment works. In fact, millions of Americans are in successful recovery for drug and alcoholism today. And through our work with innovative drug courts across the Nation, we are improving our criminal justice system to divert non-violent offenders into treatment.
    Our commitment to a balanced approach to drug control is real. This last fiscal year alone, the Federal Government spent over $10 billion on drug education and treatment programs compared to just over $9 billion on drug related law enforcement in the U.S.
    Thank you for making your voice heard. I encourage you to take a moment to read about the President’s approach to drug control to learn more.
    Now, how many of you out there feel this is just one more poke to the eye of the dead body we call “Legalization”? Is this the same Gil K. that was the former police chief of Seattle that made marijuana the “lowest priority” for police to enforce? What hairy bug crawled up this guys A$$? It’s VERY easy for him to say that Emergency Room visits are constantly recorded due to marijuana use, and the reason for that is, is that EVERYBODIES DOING IT! I had to go to the doctors yesterday for a raging ear infection, and I told them I use MMJ, so does that mean that that visit to the doctors was “Marijuana related”? I can rant and rave on about this whole ca-ca-dooty BS letter, but to make a long comment short- Him and the president are both full of S#%T, and you can take that to the bank. I made a petition for the DECRIMINALIZATION of marijuana/cannabis, and here’s the link. I think it would be in the best interest of every single person that supports NORML and it’s affiliates to sign and support THIS petition, as it will lead the way to full legalization without the Gov. fretting too much. Thanks and hope you sign!!!

  33. Tobacco is pretty easy to grow too. I just don’t see how marijuana or hemp is a threat to anyboby. What, you’re going to stop taking advil because you can take some MJ? We’re going to stop using nylon because we have hemp fiber? Of course not, they have different applications.
    Why does talking about marijuana create more bullshit than anything else?

  34. The Ex-Drug Czar Barry McKaffrey told me to my face, along with members from the National Nurses Association that the natural cannabis plant has over 300 beneficial compounds, and over 62 cannabinoids, (of which many are anti-cancer fighting compounds) that could help people suffering from certain ailments. Marinol has one (1), its synthetic, and pure THC, costing around $2,000.00 dollars for 55 tablets with a dosage being around 2.2mg. Mr. McKaffrey I asked, “Would you rather eat a synthetic apple with one so-called beneficial synthetic compound than the real, naturally made apple with is many God-given beneficial compounds. Nothing is going to change until we find out where the legal addresses are of those behind the scenes that are actually making legislation for their legally bribed politicians to sign. Only when this “Levee Breaks”, can we give these in-human facists “No Quarter”, that would keep millions from the “Gallows Pole”. Lay down a fat one, and turn up the volumn.

  35. Until you can bring the kind of scrutiny, that the Feds use everyday against you, nothing will change.
    H.R.2306 was sent to a sub-commitee, no big, just SOP.
    Here’s the problem, the commitee it was sent to is headed by Lamar Smith. I think he should recuse himself, because of his Personal feelings, which should have no place in Public policy making. I am sure that will not happen.
    Well here’s the problem, with him at the head of this commitee, he can prevent them from even dicussing it. Well if it cannot be discussed, it goes in the round file.
    So Lamar Smith thinks this is your do process.
    You cannot do anything. He may be going to the bank over this one,but He is really just sitting on his throne, dictating your rights and what your allowed to do in your own state. Nothing wrong with Texas, but I don’t live there.
    We need to show their true nature publicly. We all walk around, all day, with cameras in our pockets, some with recording ability.
    I am not psychic, but I’d put money on the fact that alot of the worst of them, are dirty.I wished I lived near a big city for some serious turd watching. Especialy the pious ones. Hey, reporters have made it legal to go through someones trash if it’s on the curb. There is nothing wrong taking pictures of public figures or their families and friends. Just because their public employees, reportable to the public they rule over doesn’t mean their off limits.
    A lot of these folks abuse all kinds of drugs, including being drunk in public, and it’s our job to find out not only who,but what. Are their spouse’s or kid,s into drugs, maybe even dealing.
    This may seem over the top, but we’ve seen mayor’s as drug dealers, politions that are functioning alcoholic,s etc. Who of these folks keeps a bottle of hard liquor hidden in their desk?
    Look at it this way. If your sitting in on a game of cards, and you don’t have any cards in hand, you can yell all you want, but you’ll never win the game.
    This is a game, and your just a disposable pawn.
    With a 2 party political system that, not just sucks, but also seems undemocratic. We finally have a Good canidate,that not only stays near the top, But is in one of the two parties. This is something I’ve waited for, for over 40 years.
    Yes I am talking about Dr. Ron Paul. As is typical in this country, our next President will be from one of the two standard partie’s. Unfortunetly votes for any other party is a waste of a good vote. Even though, they are the facts,wrong or right, they are a reality.
    Start at home, in your own backyard, to clean things up.
    Vote for Dr.Ron Paul!! Your vote will not be a waste.
    Never Forget…

  36. Let them kill the dollar – we can always back it with cannabis. They sure as hell aren’t going to give us the gold back.

  37. Hey in case you missed it we live in a plutonamy If I spelled that right it means that we have a gov. controled by corporations. Catch Bill Moyers last show on P.B.S.

  38. They write legislation on behalf of their corporations, and own personal gains signed into law by their legally bribed politicians circumventing the intent of the majority of the Citizens of the United States of America. This is by all definitions plain FASCISM. You can find out who “THEY” are by visiting this website, ( Jurisprudence!

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