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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sometimes the Best Thing the Government Can Do is Nothing At All - by Citizen Jay

     My last article for the MMMR was all about the federal law suit brought against Colorado by its neighbors Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Kansas.  As you’ll recall, the Attorneys General of those states decided to sue Colorado over its enactment of Amendment 64, which constitutionally gave its citizens the right to possess and cultivate Cannabis.   The plaintiffs claimed that their states were adversely impacted by Colorado’s constitutional amendment and argued that Colorado’s law was pre-empted by the Federal Controlled Substances Act.  And so they asked Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to force Colorado to obey the Controlled Substances Act.

     As I write this now, momentous news has just come over the wire that the SCOTUS has declined to review the case.  It’s really the best we could have hoped for.  To tell the truth I was still quite worried even after the White House asked the Court not to take it.  Had they taken the case, it could have gone either way for Colorado.  More importantly, it could have stymied any efforts on the part of the Federal Government to move forward with Cannabis legalization—whether that be in the form of reworking the DEA Schedule or pushing more broad legislation through Congress (because I’ve given up all hope of the Executive doing anything about it).  With the recent death of Justice Scalia, who knows how the Court may have ruled.  They may have drawn even, and then what would we have done?  As it stands, we dodged that bullet.  Now, Colorado is free to continue on its merry Cannabis way without the threat of losing its regulatory framework at the stroke of a pen.  And the Federal Government is likewise able to continue its varied efforts towards legalization.  This bodes well for other states too.  Sometimes the best thing the government can do is nothing at all….

     Usually when that happens it’s not such a good thing.  Look at Maryland, for example.  They passed their first Medical Cannabis laws in 2003.  Here it is 2016 and we’re still waiting for a workable plan.  A “legal defense” is not a Medical Cannabis program.  How are patients supposed to get their meds in the first place?  The lack of program means patients are forced into the criminal market.  People are suffering, actually dying, all because the legislators have repeatedly refused to take the responsibility to work out the details.  Instead, they’ve been kicking the can down the road for more than a decade.  Or worse yet, standing squarely in the way of progress.

     In Michigan hopes are high for a 2016 ballot initiative to legalize adult-use Cannabis.  Medical Cannabis has been “legal” in Michigan since 2008.  But we haven’t seen any other Cannabis related legislation from Michigan since 2013, when voters introduced Senate Bill 660 specifying that Cannabis would be a schedule II controlled substance if manufactured, obtained, dispensed, or grown in compliance with the Public Health Code.  Just what we all want (please note sarcasm).  The recent raids in both northern and western Michigan speak to the need for more direction from above.  Could the lack of a strict regimen in this case be holding us back?

     California is still trying to move past its 1996 Cannabis regulations.  The last two efforts by the Cannabis community there have failed to convince the majority of voters.  There has been a distinct lack of cohesion.  Battling propositions have so far weakened their ability to get any one of them passed (and this has/is happening in other states too—for example, Ohio).  But why has it been left up to the populace all this time?  Why haven’t things moved forward any other way?  It’s been a long time.  Since California first took up the torch almost half of the states have passed some kind of Cannabis legislation one way or another.  It seems they’ve been left in the dust.  We had such high hopes.
     No dis intended, eh?  Getting government to move is hard.  At this point it’s the PUSH that still so important.  Remember, we’re all part of a national MOVEMENT.  And as such, we’re each responsible for helping to create the MOMENTUM needed to make our goals actually become reality.  It’s not just for you and me.  It’s for all of us everywhere now and in the future.  Get involved.   

     As we get further into our watershed year we are seeing absolutely fantastical things happening in our governing politick.  It seems our political parties may actually burst apart, fueled by the pullings of extreme positions from the center outward, they might explode.  Despite all the circus-ry, this Cannabis advocate finds himself hopeful.  The next elections will bring a ton of people to the polls.  The spectacle that is the Presidential race alone promises to electrify the electorate.  That’ll be good for us as a movement in general.  The majority of polled Americans now favor legalization in some form.  And they’re coming to vote.  Perhaps that will provide the impetus for moving our governing bodies forward.  As always, it starts with, “We the People….”   

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