May 3, 2012 05:10
Bucking the Trend
Since 2008, federal troops have raided collectives operating legally under state law across the country, confiscated money and property in the process and left unemployed citizens in their wake. Owners and operators obeying the letter and spirit of state laws have been prosecuted by federal authorities while patients with diseases like cancer suffer for it. Obama made campaign promises . . . and didn’t keep them.
Because of this—and as a result of pressure by the voters that elected them—some state-level elected officials have stepped forward to criticize the Commander in Chief for his actions.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Washington), Rep. Antonio Maestas (D-New Mexico), Sen. Cisco McSorley (D-New Mexico), Assemblyman Chris Norby (R-Fullerton), Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Maine) and Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Colorado) all signed and sent a public statement to the Obama administration defending medical cannabis collectives and condemning the raids by the federal government.
“I’ve worked hard in Colorado to implement a system that authorizes medical marijuana, and it’s disappointing when state law is thwarted by federal intervention,” Sen. Steadman told CULTURE.
He says that medical cannabis laws were created in response to the will of the people. The senator believes President Obama is ignoring the will of voters and the rights of states.
“We have for-profit businesses that are licensed and regulated,” Steadman says. “Our voters wanted patients to have access to medical marijuana. I think as a state we have an interest to make sure that the product is safe, so we created a regulatory model to help patients.”
Steadman points out that this regulatory model provides important jobs and revenue states needed in an economy still weak from the recession.
Federal assaults don’t help.
“This industry is paying people, paying [its] taxes and following the law.”
The Obama administration is also being criticized for threatening to prosecute state employees for regulating cannabis. This tactic, in some cases, has served to stop new medical cannabis programs (such as Oakland’s plans to approve large-scale cultivation two years ago) before they start in states across the country for fear of retaliation.
To Steadman, this new position is a bad one. “When it gets to the point where state employees are being threatened [with] federal prosecution for implementing a system that legally authorizes medical marijuana, something has to be said.”
As collectives are shut down and employees are left jobless, states lose vital sources of revenue for important programs.
“We’ve made budget systems in the next business cycle that use funds to help fight substance abuse in the community and to support programs for people with substance abuse issues,” Steadman says.
However, because of Obama’s aggression, social programs such as these are in danger. “Our budget [relied] on the revenue from dispensaries to pay for these programs, so now we have to pay for them some other way,” he adds.
Will the political pressure wake Obama up?
“I hope the federal government will back down a little, and allow states to legitimize the industry and regulate cannabis sales,” Steadman says.
He believes the founding fathers would approve.
“The states are intended to be laboratories of democracy, so it’s time to back off and let the experiment work,” he says.
What, think that all California politicians that are pro-cannabis are liberals? Think again, boys and girls. Assemblyman Chris Norby is a Republican from Fullerton that has more in common with Mark Leno and Tom Ammiano than a take-your-pick Drug Warrior. “The public is way ahead of us on this,” Norby told the Los Angeles Times last year. “It should be our issue as freedom-loving conservatives. What bigger nanny state can there be than one that sends a person to prison for three years for growing a plant?”