By Einar Sevilla
Medical marijuana advocates gathered outside the Nob Hill Masonic Center last Thursday as President Obama hosted a fundraising dinner. Protesters demanded that the feds recognize state laws and reclassify marijuana so that it will no longer be grouped with drugs like heroin and crack.
Before his election, President Obama had promised to respect states’ medical marijuana laws, saying “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”
But as president, Obama has been even more hostile to medical marijuana than George W. Bush.
According to the federal government cannabis is still an illegal controlled substance and the DEA continues to ignore California’s voter-approved Proposition 215 (1996), which legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
San Francisco has seen the DEA close down five cannabis dispensaries, with 12 more under investigation.
“He needs to stop this senseless attack on patients’ access and state law,” said San Francisco Medical Cannabis Task Force spokesperson Stephanie Tucker. “The federal government needs to reclassify cannabis completely so there can be testing and regulation allowed, not this stupid state versus federal law conflict.”
It’s easy to prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries since they are all listed in the phone book and have a storefront with posted hours of operation, whereas investigating black market drug dealers actually requires work.
In 2002, cannabis patient Steph Sherer created a national organization called Americans for Safe Access in hopes of helping patients secure safe access to cannabis.
“The amount (of marijuana) you need as a patient, you just can’t get from friends,” said Sherer. “It’s weird asking some skater kid for your medicine.”
Rescheduling marijuana as a controlled substance with medical benefits would allow for scientific research which could uncover more medical uses. It would take money out of the black market and create a considerable number of jobs in a brand new industry, one that could generate billions in tax revenue.