More MS news articles for Nov 2001

U.S. Shouldn't Bust Legal Medical Marijuana Sites

November 2, 2001

With a real war going on against terrorism, federal law enforcement officials should call off the one they're waging against medical marijuana users. Instead, they've gone on the offensive.

Last week, about two dozen Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center in West Hollywood, one of California's largest suppliers of medical marijuana. The raid followed months of surveillance, tips from confidential informants and fly-overs of one of the center's marijuana gardens in Ventura County where 342 plants were seized.

In West Hollywood, agents took medical files, computers, gardening equipment and bank records in addition to marijuana plants. No criminal charges have been filed, but the center is out of business.

Medical marijuana is legal in California. It has been since 1996. Seven other states also have laws allowing sick people legal access to marijuana prescribed by their doctors. In a strange twist, Nevada officials have asked the federal government to supply it with marijuana because the statute there requires the state to ensure patients legal access to the drug.

But while medical marijuana is legal in California and elsewhere, it is a federal felony to cultivate, possess or distribute the drug. And the Supreme Court ruled in May that marijuana has no currently accepted medical use. So federal officials have continued the battle. It's a fight the federal government doesn't need.

The Pew Research Center reported in March that three-quarters of those polled supported allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes. Most of the Los Angeles center's 960 patients have AIDS. Others have cancer, glaucoma or multiple sclerosis.

Instead of chasing down the folks who supply them with marijuana, federal officials should just say no to this misguided campaign.

Copyright © 2001, Newsday, Inc.