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Posts Tagged ‘federal government’

On eve of pot legalization, a warning from the feds

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Pot, as you probably know, becomes legal to possess in Washington as of tomorrow. Initiative 502, passed by voters last month, allows adults 21 and older to have up to an ounce starting Dec. 6. (Don’t ask how one goes about getting marijuana, which is still illegal to sell, or distribute, or — unless you’re authorized under the state’s medical marijuana law — grow).

It’s the first state ever to do so — some are calling it “cannabiotic armistice day” — as Colorado’s legalization law, also passed this November, does not take effect until January. Later, the initiative calls for a system of growers, brokers and retail stores to sell pot.

But the looming cloud of uncertainty as to what the federal government, which still regards weed as a dangerous, unhealthy narcotic — will do in the wake of 502′s passage was lifted ever so slightly with a news release Wednesday. Here it is in its entirety. I’ll leave it to you to interpret it:

“The Department of Justice is reviewing the legalization initiatives recently passed in Colorado and Washington State.   The Department’s responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged.  Neither States nor the Executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress.  In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance.  Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6th in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.  Members of the public are also advised to remember that it remains against federal law to bring any amount of marijuana onto federal property, including all federal buildings, national parks and forests, military installations, and courthouses.”


Federal government supplies weed to a handful of people

Friday, September 30th, 2011

This may come as a surprise for those of you following the great marijuana debate. Since 1976, the federal government — yes, that federal government that bans pot and lists it as a drug without medicinal value — has supplied a dwindling number of patients with medical marijuana.

The Associated Press recently published a piece documenting the history of this apparent cognitive dissonance, in which four Americans (including an Oregonian) still receive marijuana for various illnesses. In fact, since 2005, they’ve received 100 pounds of weed in the form of finely-rolled joints.

The story provides interesting history. Despite marijuana’s illegality since the 1930s, a federal judge in 1976 ruled that one man’s glaucoma could be relieved in no other way than pot. Since then, a small number of patients are given pot grown on a farm at the University of Mississippi.

Medical marijuana laws are now on the books in 16 states, including Washington. The controversy surrounding the drug will undoubtedly continue. This story shows that it’s not just the states that have trouble being consistent enforcing marijuana laws.


Meth-makers beware: the feds are keeping a close eye on you

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Next time you have a cold, don’t be surprised if you get a bit of scrutiny with your Sudafed. Washington’s board of pharmacy just approved new rules that will make getting any pseudoephedrine product a little more like traveling through airport security.

The good news is that law enforcement will be alerted any time a small cache of pseudoephedrine — the key ingredient in making methamphetamine — is purchased at a local store.

But next time that pounding headache, cough and general feeling of awfulness drags you into Ride Aid or Walgreens, expect to be asked for your driver’s license or ID, which will get scanned into a database.

This concept isn’t too new for Washingtonians — one of meth’s first victims in the country — who’ve already been handing over IDs so they could be catalogued in a paper database for law enforcement to see. The difference now is the federal government’s “Combat Meth Act,” which makes the database electronic — and thus instant.

By October 15, all retailers will have to be using the system and complying with the new rules operating it.

In case you’d like more detail, here’s a press release on the topic, courtesy of the state’s Department of Health:

OLYMPIA — Making methamphetamine (meth) in Washington just got harder thanks to a new, instant, electronic reporting and monitoring system. The Washington State Board of Pharmacy adopted rules for the system that tracks purchases of over-the-counter medications used to make the drug.

Retailers and law enforcement are now learning how to use the system. On October 15, all retailers must comply with the system’s rules and law enforcement can use the information for investigations under the federal Combat Meth Act.

The tracking system, which is in use in many other states, scans photo identification as well as type and amount of product; it provides real-time information showing the cashier if the person buying the medication has exceeded the allowed quantity. Information on the purchase of medication over the legal limits goes instantly to a database available to law enforcement.

Restricting access to drugs used to make meth is a key step to ending illegal meth labs and dumpsites, and to deterring meth abuse and addiction. Controlling access to products containing pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and phenyloproanolamine will help stop meth makers from buying big quantities of the products while allowing legitimate access to cold, flu, and allergy products.

The state will use the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), a no-cost system provided to states that want to replace paper sales logs with real-time electronic tracking. Pharmacies, shopkeepers, and other vendors selling these medications will enter sales transactions into the NPLEx system at the time of sale.


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