Federal drug abuse officials called out Colorado by name Wednesday in releasing a new national survey of illicit drug use among teenagers, saying marijuana legalization efforts are clearly changing youth attitudes in a dangerous way.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy noted many teens report getting their marijuana from others with medical marijuana access. Past-month pot use by high schoolers jumped over five years, and perceived risk by teens is plummeting, said the annual report of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Colorado, Washington and other states heading toward legalization are conducting a “large social experiment (that) portends a very difficult time” for drug-abuse control, said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Legalization advocates, meanwhile, cited other statistics in the report showing the recent national trend in high school use of pot is flat.
The most recent three years of the survey show little change in self-reported use in the annual tally.
In 12th-graders, for example. . . . . READ MORE
Doctors at Massachusetts community health centers have been advised not to authorize any of their more than 638,000 patients to obtain marijuana for medical purposes because the centers fear they would lose their federal funding.
The Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers has advised its 36 federally funded facilities to hold off on issuing patient marijuana certifications under the state’s new medical marijuana law, because use remains illegal under federal law.
Health center physicians who believe marijuana might be beneficial for certain patients and authorize its use could be committing a “potential violation of federal law and could result in legal and financial exposure for community health centers,” according to a statement from the League.
This disconnect between state and federal marijuana law is cropping up in other areas as well; some rules restrict tenants who use medical marijuana from living in federally subsidized housing, or prevent Veterans Administration hospitals and clinics from authorizing medical marijuana.
Voters approved a ballot initiative in No. . . . . READ MORE
The United Nations International Narcotics Control Board’s latest annual report expressed dismay at the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado and urged “the Government of the United States to take necessary measures to ensure full compliance with the international drug control treaties in its entire territory”. This led many media outlets to report that the U.S. had violated the UN drug control treaties to which it is a signatory. U.S. obligations under the treaties, and indeed the broader international future of marijuana legalization, are complex matters. But the essential points can be summarized in a 4-part Q&A.
1. Is the U.S. currently in violation of the UN treaties it signed agreeing to make marijuana illegal? No. The U.S. federal government is a signatory to the treaty, but the States of Washington and Colorado are not. Countries with federated systems of government like the U.S. and Germany can only make international commitments regarding their national-level policies. Constitutionally, U.S. states are simply not required to make marijuana illegal as it is in federal law. Hence, the U.S. made no such commitment on behalf of the 50 states in signing t. . . . . READ MORE
Last month, Holder said certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders — those without ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels — no longer will be charged with offenses that impose severe mandatory minimum sentences.
Holder said he now has broadened the new policy to cover defendants who have not yet been convicted in drug cases that could involve lengthy mandatory prison sentences. The policy also may be applied, at the discretion of prosecutors, to a defendant who has entered a guilty plea, but has not yet been sentenced.
Mandatory minimum prison sentences, a legacy of the government’s war on drugs, limit the discretion of judges to impose shorter prison terms.
Holder says the government should reserve the most severe prison terms for serious, high-level or violent drug traffickers.
“Some federal drug statutes that mandate inflexible sentences — regardless of the individual conduct at issue in a . . . . . READ MORE
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq rolled out the regulations today for formal publication in the Canada Gazette on Wednesday.
Under the new regime, the government will no longer produce or distribute medical pot and medical marijuana users will no longer be allowed to grow the product at home.
Health Canada said since the medical marijuana program was introduced in 2001, it has expanded to 30,000 people from the original 500 authorized to use the product.
“This rapid increase has had unintended consequences for public health, safety and security as a result of allowing individuals to produce marijuana in their homes,” the department said in a news release.
“Under the new regulations, production will no longer take place in homes and municipal zoning laws will need to be respected, which will further enhance public safety.”
Under the new regulations, the government will allow pati. . . . . READ MORE
The government is in talks with bank regulators to see whether financial institutions in states that have approved recreational marijuana use can do business with drug dispensaries there, a top Justice Department official said Tuesday.
The announcement came nearly two weeks after the Justice Department decided it won’t take legal action against Colorado and Washington, which approved recreational marijuana use last year.
Banks, worried they could be violating federal laws, have been hesitant to provide services to state-authorized marijuana dispensaries, forcing the dispensaries to become mostly cash-only enterprises. And “that’s a prescription for problems,” potentially including armed robberies, according to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I don’t want to see a shootout somewhere and have innocent people or law enforcement endangered by that,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said during a committee hearing Tuesday.
The Justice Department’s number two agreed, saying it’s “an issue that we need to deal with.”. . . . . READ MORE
Requested by committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the hearing was triggered by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement last month that federal authorities no longer will interfere as states adopt laws to allow medical marijuana or to legalize the drug entirely.
The hearing is on conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws. In calling for it, Leahy questioned whether, at a time of severe budget cutting, federal prosecutions of marijuana users are the best use of taxpayer dollars.
Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the nonprofit lobby group Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., said he hopes for a breakthrough in the hearing that would lead to changes in federal banking laws, allowing marijuana sellers to accept credit cards and checks, not just cash.
That would do a lot to legitimize the nation’s marijuana industry, safeguard. . . . . READ MORE
Bowing to changing times and admittedly limited prosecutorial resources, the Justice Department announced last week that it would not seek to block state laws legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use. The declaration represented a major reversal from the department’s previous position that marijuana is a dangerous drug that the government is obligated to go after under federal law regardless of what state legislatures do. The policy shift unveiled Thursday inevitably will change the conversation about marijuana use in America, and it’s likely to have important legal and social consequences as well going forward, not all of them predictable. But it was nevertheless the right decision.
Eighteen states, including Maryland, and the District of Columbia now have laws decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot for medicinal purposes.
Two more, Colorado and Washington, recently legalized the drug for recreational use as well. Despite the fact that federal law has not changed, the Justice Department clearly saw the handwriting on the wall. Henceforth, marijua. . . . . READ MORE
During the groundbreaking phone call on Thursday, August 29 in which U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the governors of Colorado and Washington the federal government would not attempt to intercept regulated legal marijuana in their states, he also said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is “actively considering” how to oversee the relationship between banks and marijuana shops.
According to the Huffington Post, Holder told the governors as long as marijuana shops “operate within state laws and don’t violate other federal law enforcement priorities” the DOJ is looking to regulate those interactions as legal.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, released a statement on Thursday calling for a hearing to discuss his proposed bill, Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act (HR 2652). In the statement, he raised concerns over “public safety, crime, and lost tax revenue associated when these legal and regulated businesses are operating in a cash-only system.”
“We need to provi. . . . . READ MORE
In a historic pivot in the War on Drugs, the Obama Justice Department announced this week that the federal government will allow Washington and Colorado to implement their state laws for the taxation and regulation of legal marijuana.
The carefully worded Justice Department memo does nothing to alter federal law. Instead, it makes explicit the federal objectives of continued enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act preventing activities including the distribution of marijuana to minors, the diversion of marijuana profits to criminals and cartels, the growing of pot on federal land and the export of marijuana from states where it is legal to states that uphold prohibition.
To the extent that states themselves support those federal priorities by implementing “strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana,” the memo suggests, they should be left alone for now. In a radical twist, the memo even suggests that “robust” state regulation of legal pot “may affirmatively address [federal] priorities by . . . replacin. . . . . READ MORE