Medical marijuana advocates in Massachusetts say they’ll take their cause to the ballot if the Legislature won’t pass it, but the usual objections are being raised by law enforcement officials, who say that legalizing medicine cannabis could put the state at odds with the federal government.
|Patrick Whittemore/Boston Herald
|U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz: “While this office does not intend to focus its limited resources on seriously ill individuals who use marijuana as part of a medically recommended treatment program in compliance with state law, individuals and organizations who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, will be in violation of federal law and be subject to federal enforcement.”
The Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana bill would protect registered patients, doctors, caregivers and dispensers from local and state marijuana laws, but not from the federal law enforcement like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). If the Legislature rejects or fails to act on the measure by May 2, certified signatures of 11,485 Massachusetts voters are needed to place a binding question on November’s general election ballot.
Seriously ill patients don’t have to fear a knock on the door from gun-toting feds, according to White House and U.S. Department of Justice officials, but those same officials told the Boston Herald
they won’t turn a blind eye to others who break federal laws, including doctors and state-licensed dispensaries, reports Laurel J. Sweet.
“Marijuana is against federal law and, as you know, that is what we enforce,” said Kevin Lane, acting special agent in charge of the DEA’s New England Division. “DEA has never targeted the sick or dying,” Lane lied (the late Peter McWilliams
could have told you if they target patients). “Cultivation of marijuana is against federal law and if organizations or groups choose to cultivate marijuana they will be subject to arrest.”
“We don’t want to be put in the middle of a situation where the citizens vote to allow a low that the federal government says it will prosecute,” complained A. Wayne Sampson of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, reports Sweet at the Boston Herald.
President Obama, who has come under heavy criticism for recent federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in California and Washington, believes “that while the prosecution of drug traffickers is a core priority, targeting individuals with cancer and serious illnesses is not the best allocation of federal law enforcement resources,” a White House official said, echoing the Ogden Memo
Republican front-runner Mitt Romney’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment, but Romney in 2007 said “I’m not in favor of medical marijuana
” — to an 80-pound man with muscular dystrophy. After that resulted in a storm of negative publicity, Mitt’s tactic seems to have become dodging the question
“While this office does not intend to focus its limited resources on seriously ill individuals who use marijuana as part of a medically recommended treatment program in compliance with state law, individuals and organizations who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, will be in violation of federal law and be subject to federal enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, federal prosecutor in Massachusetts.
What Ortiz doesn’t say with her doublespeak is that those “seriously ill individuals who use marijuana as part of a medically recommended treatment program in compliance with state laws” are also in violation of federal law, since marijuana is federally illegal for any purpose. Evidently that particular aspect of the Controlled Substances Act is so odious that even the federal government itself glosses it over — but never doubt that it can, at any time, be enforced against patients, and in fact often already is.