John Colson: Hit and Run
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado
If you’re a Colorado resident, you may remember back in 2000 when you voted on the medical marijuana amendment to the Colorado constitution, and you may even remember how you voted.
I voted for the amendment, even though I generally do not subscribe to the idea that voter-initiated petitions ought to create constitutional law, primarily because it is too haphazard and too caught up in extremist crap, too much of the time. But I have always believed marijuana to be a relatively harmless substance that is better for us, medicinally, than most of what Big Pharma cooks up in its labs and sells to us at exorbitant prices.
Anyway, the amendment was approved and became law. Currently 15 states and the District of Columbia have similar statutes.
But in Colorado, for nearly a decade nothing really happened as a result, because federal laws that haven’t changed since the American equivalent of the Stone Age prevented anything from happening. People were scared that any effort to take advantage of the new law would put them in Dutch with the feds, who have gleefully done all they can to reinforce that fear.
But in 2009 the feds were told to back off enforcement of the federal marijuana prohibition in states that has medical marijuana laws on the books, and the Colorado medical marijuana industry was born and began to thrive.
But now the state legislature seems determined to subvert the intent of the voters, beginning with a decision to hand enforcement of the medical marijuana laws to the Department of Revenue rather than where it belongs, at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Last year the statehouse passed a new set of laws ostensibly meant to legitimize the industry, but really meant to restrict it and to set up a coercive monitoring system that would discourage people from getting their medicine.
A large part of that coercive monitoring system involves cameras at all points of sale, creating a database on patients that is open to law enforcement types, including the feds.
So, even though a buyer might be obeying all the pertinent laws, and has a legitimate need for this medicinal drug, he or she would suddenly be on file for all to see and open to prosecution by federal agents looking for an easy bust to bolster their stats.
Recently, state legislators have introduced bills to outlaw edible forms of medical marijuana, which happens to be the only way that a lot of patients can use the medicine because of pulmonary problems and diseases. They eat cookies, tinctures, ice cream, any form that meets their need without further damaging their already damaged lungs.
To make matters worse for patients, two hyped-up haters of anything they don’t understand, Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder) and Rep. Mark Waller (R-El Paso County), both members of the House Judiciary Committee, have proposed making it illegal to drive with more than an infinitesimal amount of medical marijuana in your bloodstream. This, even though there is absolutely no evidence that the level described in the bill either impairs one’s driving abilities or has ever been the cause of an automobile accident.
Like so many who see the medical marijuana issue as their ticket to political prominence, they are manufacturing a “crisis” for their own selfish ends, and further messing with people’s legitimate rights to use this relatively harmless drug for its medicinal properties.
As for the fact that the voters approved medical marijuana use more than a decade ago, that doesn’t seem to matter, just as it seems not to matter that a majority of American voters favor open access to abortion for women, and some kind of national health care system that does not leave everything in the hands of a corrupt insurance industry.
These issues are all intertwined, and all can be traced to the plain fact that the conservative wing of our political system is trying to push its narrow-minded, self-righteous, tight-fisted and repressive agenda on the rest of us.
Unfortunately, too many of us seem too willing to just sit back and let this happen.
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