State-Federal Pot Split Means Trouble

DELAWARE: The headline read: “Fog over medical pot policy lifted.”

Almost. It is clearing in Delaware. At the national level, however, the fog remains as thick as ever. In fact, it might be getting even thicker.

Gov. Markell moved to implement Delaware’s medical marijuana program. It has been stalled since 2011 because federal law does not allow the use of marijuana for medical or any other purpose. The federal approach, which is on the books if not in the mind of the president, would hold any state employee liable for selling marijuana under whatever controlled system Delaware devises.

The governor, therefore, must move cautiously.

However much sense the marijuana law makes, and we believe it makes a lot of sense, the state-federal disagreement creates a problem. Congress, given its current paralyzed state, is unlikely to amend the Controlled Substances Act. The states, meanwhile, have been jumping into the act. Seventeen states have authorized medical marijuana laws. Two states, Washington and Colorado, have legalized the use and distribution of marijuana for non-medicinal reasons.

Ideally under circumstances like this, Delaware and the other states would come to some kind of accord with the U.S. Department of Justice about the rules of the game: No sales outside the state-regulated system, any large quantities, strict control on growing the product and no sales of adulterated products. It would be a hard task, but a doable one.

But we do not live under accommodating circumstances.

The victories of the pro-marijuana forces in the voting booth in Washington and Colorado have revitalized the movement for legalization. Public opinion across the nation is moving toward approval of relaxed marijuana laws. The push to ease up on drug arrests is winning adherents in both liberal and conservative camps: We can’t afford the prison space. But these changes in attitude are not going to neatly translate into legislative actions.

However, the push for marijuana reform is suddenly getting a lot of attention from people labeling it the “new gay marriage,” a reference to the political movement that successfully pushed for same-sex marriage laws in states like Delaware and at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read full article @ Delaware Online