Dear fellow Americans:
We're in a new era! Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government will now defer to state governments on medical marijuana — a 180-degree reversal of the Bush administration's anti-democratic policies.
The impact was immediate. On the day of Holder's announcement, New Mexico announced that it had issued the first license that any state government has ever issued to a medical marijuana producer in any state. That first nonprofit provider will be able to grow and sell medical marijuana to card-carrying patients without being harassed or raided by local, state, or federal law enforcement officials.
- Rhode Island is poised to expand its existing medical marijuana law to allow for three nonprofits to dispense medical marijuana to registered patients.
- This November, Maine voters will consider a ballot initiative similar to what Rhode Island envisions. MPP's polling shows the initiative is supported by 66% of likely voters.
- The Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota legislatures are debating bills to create new medical marijuana laws that allow for licensed dispensing from day one.
- In Arizona, MPP's campaign committee will be placing a similar proposal on the statewide ballot in November 2010. That initiative is supported by 65% of likely voters.
- In California, medical marijuana is dispensed at approximately 400 collectives that are generating approximately $100 million annually in state tax revenues. They operate under a state law that allows their activity but doesn't provide for state licensing. With federal policy improved and clarified, we expect the California Legislature to pass legislation similar to our Arizona proposal.
To fully appreciate the changes we're seeing, compare the Obama administration's policy to the Bush administration's policy. In the fall of 2001, after executing the first of what would be dozens of medical marijuana dispensary raids over eight years, a spokesperson for Bush's Justice Department said, "The recent enforcement is indicative that we have not lost our priorities in other areas since September 11. The attorney general and the administration have been very clear: we will be aggressive."
As the World Trade Center was still literally smoldering and our country was about to launch two foreign wars, the Bush administration was crowing about how it was arresting medical marijuana patients. That policy was not only cruel, but stupid. Good riddance.
Now that the Obama administration has taken the Drug Enforcement Administration out of the business of busting pharmacy-like establishments, MPP will be lobbying the federal government to also do the following:
- Congress should remove the federal ban on the District of Columbia enacting a local medical marijuana law. In November 1998, 69% of D.C. voters passed a medical marijuana ballot initiative, but every year since then Congress has attached a rider to its D.C. spending bill that prevents this law from taking effect. Even former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, the author of the federal ban, now supports lifting it — and has lobbied on MPP's behalf to do exactly that.
- The DEA should stop preventing the University of Massachusetts from growing medical marijuana for research purposes. A privately grown, regulated supply of marijuana is a prerequisite to getting marijuana approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a prescription medicine.
- The Obama administration should reopen the existing federal program that currently provides medical marijuana to only three patients nationwide but that was closed to new enrollment in 1992. This could be a huge boon to patients in states without medical marijuana laws.
As you can see, it's an exciting time, with some of the best possibilities for change that I've seen since I cofounded MPP 14 years ago. But we're 100% dependent on supporters like you to help us fund our lobbying efforts ... so would you please help us take advantage of this newly receptive political atmosphere by making the most generous donation you can afford today? I personally appreciate anything you can give to help our work.
Marijuana Policy Project
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