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March 2009



Medical Marijuana

“bullet” The full video of the Cato Institute forum The Politics and Science of Medical Marijuana, (featuring Donald Abrams, M.D., Director of Clinical Programs, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California; Robert DuPont, M.D., President, Institute for Behavior and Health; Rob Kampia, Executive Director, Marijuana Policy Project; Moderated by Tim Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute) is now available online [Thanks Fidelity]
“bullet” Attorney General Holder reaffirmed policy of not going after medical marijuana clinics that were complying with state laws.

“The policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law, to the extent that people do that and try to use medical marijuana laws as a shield for activity that is not designed to comport with what the intention was of the state law,” Holder said. “Those are the organizations, the people, that we will target. And that is consistent with what the president said during the campaign.”
A Justice Department official confirmed that Holder’s comments effectively articulated a formal Obama administration policy of not going after such clinics.

“bullet” Iowa Senator Grassley criticized the Obama administration for this position saying that “the new policy is counterproductive because marijuana leads to use of harder drugs.”
NORML Responds

Funny, last time I checked Chuck Grassley represented the state of Iowa and only the state of Iowa, which is not one of the thirteen states that have legalized the possession and use of medical cannabis under state law. If Senator Grassley so desperately wants to control what people do in states other than his own perhaps he should consider running for President. Or, better yet, maybe he should just mind his own business!

“bullet” Update: Good article in the New York Times: Dispensers of Marijuana Find Relief in Policy Shift [Thanks, Tom]
“bullet” Further update: Robert Schlesinger in U.S. News and World Report: Obama, Holder’s Drug Policy Partially Decriminalizes PotÖTime to Go All the Way?

And it may spark (as it were) a broader debate about drugs in this country: Why stop at partial decriminalization? Why not go all the way?

Stop Snitching

“bullet” Via Grits for Breakfast is coverage of the premiere of American Violet – a feature film that fictionally portrays the case of Regina Kelly, who was swept up in a Texas drug bust in Hearne, Texas by a rogue drug task force targeting African Americans and using a single informant. Once the facts came to light, the charges against her were dropped and her record expunged (I got to meet Regina at a national drug policy conference — quite an amazing lady).
A free screening of the movie was given in Hearne, Texas, where tensions are still high

Last week Herald, a Catholic priest better known as Father Bob, circulated through downtown and asked about a dozen shopkeepers to tack up movie posters advertising the 6 p.m. screening. He had watched the film twice, and he thought it instructive and wholesome.
By the next day, he said, most of the posters were in the garbage. Shop owners told Herald that they had been visited by a uniformed investigator from the Robertson County District Attorney‰s Office who suggested the movie was full of lies and anti-law enforcement and that their businesses might suffer unless the posters were removed.
‹They felt intimidated,Š Herald said. […]

Regina Kelly is also trying to get an apology from District Attorney John Paschall

That‰s doubtful. While Paschall did not return Chronicle calls, he did have some pithy statements for the Dallas Morning News:
‹The only way I‰d watch (the movie), I‰d have to be handcuffed, tied to a chair and you‰d have to tape my eyes open.Š

“bullet” Scott also notes some encouraging news in legal areas regarding the use of informants

As Texas considers bills to corroborate and ensure reliability of jailhouse informant testimony, I was interested to see that bipartisan legislation moving in Florida takes a different tack on regulating confidential informants. Reports AP:

The proposed bill would create strict standards on the use of confidential informants and give them the right to talk to an attorney before agreeing to help police.
It would not allow people in drug treatment programs to be used in undercover drug operations.
Plus, the plan would prevent a nonviolent offender from being involved in any undercover operation involving weapons or suspects with violent criminal records.