GOOD


Ever since the Attorney General ordered a stop to enforcing federal law in states where marijuana is legal, there has been a sense that the Obama administration's drug policies-at least when it came to marijuana-were going to be more sensible than those of previous administrations. As California inches towards actually considering legalization and taxation of their marijuana crop, is the federal government more willing to consider alternatives other than disastrous criminalization of a relatively harmless drug?Speaking a few days ago, Obama's drug czar seemed to indicate that the answer is an emphatic no. "Legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine," he said. Which is, of course, exactly what he has to say. But then he went ever further: "Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit." No medicinal benefit is a pretty reactionary position at this point. Surely, most of the people lined up outside the dispensary down the street from our office are in perfect health, but that marijuana can help certain conditions-like various types of chronic or disease-related pain, or the nausea that stems from chemotherapy-is now well-accepted medical fact. The federal government can't do much about the largest problem of marijuana in the criminal justice system-that people are put into jail for possession of incredibly small amounts of the drug-that's a state issue, but they can lead by example. And the drug czar seems unready to change the government's overarching attitudes towards marijuana and marijuana enforcement.Photo by Craig Kohlruss / The Fresno Bee
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