on Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Calls For State Regulation of Medical Marijuana on the Rise
As the federal government curtails enforcement efforts against medical marijuana, calls for local regulations of dispensaries increase.
An article in Sunday's New York TImes highlights a quandary faced by states where medical marijuana is legal - how should MM be regulated now that the Justice Department is curtailing enforcement efforts of federal marijuana laws?
Until now, states such as Colorado have depended heavily on federal law enforcement to keep medical marijuana dispensaries in check. The Justice Department's new policy, however, places more responsibilities on states that permit medical marijuana to define and enforce their own laws. In response, the Colorado Attorney General is calling for further regulation on the state level to curtail the spread of dispensaries. Many local governments aren't waiting for the state to take action and are enacting their own laws that ban or limit where dispensaries may be located within municipality borders.
Pain Management of Colorado is in favor of sensible business practices among Colorado medical marijuana dispensaries. As a professional medical practice, we encourage dispensaries to be responsible in their affairs. Yet calls for drastic regulation such as moratoria or outright bans on dispensaries benefit no one. Without safe and convenient access to legal and medically-valuable cannabis, legitimate patients will either be forced to live in chronic pain or resort to obtaining medical marijuana illicitly. Likewise, the state of Colorado itself will deprive its coffers of valuable tax dollars. In these times drastic budget cuts, can the state really afford to handicap a growing industry that is revitalizing the retail real-estate market and generating tax revenue?
On a more positive note, medical marijuana advocates should take heart that this important issue is finally being addressed. We are beyond the stage of merely talking about reform and are now well into the business of actually carrying it out. The national attention medical marijuana is receiving is even leading to calls for reform on a federal basis. In a recent statement posted at Reddit.com, Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) voiced hope that such federal medical marijuana reform could be enacted "within a few years."
The past year has witnessed a seismic shift in national attitudes toward medical marijuana. We've gone from a federal government creating media spectacles by arresting cancer patients in California to a federal government permitting MM dispensaries to operate openly and without fear in 14 states. While many obstacles remain, it is important for us to look back and see just how far we've come in a relatively short period of time. We only hope that calls for increased local and state regulations are handled with compassion and common-sense.