N.M. Gearing Up To Face Drug Police On Federalismby Brad Warbiany
New Mexico has voted to legalize medical marijuana. Starting tomorrow, they’re raising the bar: the state will make sure a safe and legal distribution system in created:
New Mexico has a new medical marijuana law with a twist: It requires the state to grow its own.
The law, effective Sunday, not only protects medical marijuana users from prosecution â€” as 11 other states do â€” but requires New Mexico to oversee a production and distribution system for the drug.
“The long-term goal is that the patients will have a safe, secure supply that doesn’t mean drug dealers, that doesn’t mean growing their own,” said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico.
The state Department of Health must issue rules by Oct. 1 for the licensing of marijuana producers and in-state, secured facilities, and for developing a distribution system.
There’s a bit of a thorny issue, in that I don’t the state should be in business regulating and distributing narcotics. But I’m going to set that aside at this point, because the situation they’re setting up is a better deal that what New Mexico currently has in place.
The really interesting thing, though, is that they’re throwing down a bit of a gauntlet here. And I’m guessing Alberto Gonzales, or whoever succeeds him as AG, is going to pick it up.
The distribution and use of marijuana are illegal under federal law, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 in a California case that medical marijuana users can be prosecuted.
Faced with that dilemma, the health department has asked state Attorney General Gary King whether its employees could be federally prosecuted for running the medical marijuana registry and identification card program, and whether the agency can license marijuana producers and facilities.
Unfortunately for anyone licensed by New Mexico, the Department of Justice doesn’t care about your silly state laws. Marijuana is a dangerous gateway drug, leading our children down a path of failure and ruin. Didn’t you see Reefer Madness?
How do I know they’ll trump state laws? Well, if Raich isn’t enough, you can go one step farther and look at the Ed Rosenthal case. A man specifically deputized by the city of Oakland to grow marijuana for medical marijuana patients was federally prosecuted, and for an added kicker, couldn’t reveal to the jury that what he was doing was specifically approved by the city government.
n 2002, federal agents arrested Ed, even though he had been deputized by the City of Oakland to grow marijuana for medical use. In a stunning setback for the federal government, he was sentenced to only one day in prison. In 2006 the 9th Circuit Appeals Court overthrew Rosenthal’s conviction. Several months later the US Federal Attorney’s office re-indicted him. A new trial commenced on 14 May 2007.
On May 31 2007, it was announced that Ed had been convicted again for three of the five charges against him: one conspiracy count; one count of growing, intending to distribute and distributing marijuana; and one count of using a commercial building as a site for growing and distributing marijuana. He was acquitted of growing and distributing marijuana at the Harm Reduction Center medical-marijuana club in San Francisco. The jury reached a deadlock on whether he had conspired to grow and distribute at the Harm Reduction Center. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer once again prohibited Ed’s lawyers from telling the jury that his work was sanctioned by Oakland government officials, a main point of contention for the jurors of Ed’s first trial. Ed will see no more jail time and will, of course, appeal.
I’m sure the people setting up the licensing system won’t face any prosecution. They may survive under sovereign immunity. But I’d warn anyone considering applying for a state license to remain on guard. The feds don’t care about state law, and they don’t care about the 9th or 10th Amendment. They’ll fight the Drug War ruthlessly, regardless of what the American people or the government of New Mexico have to say about it.