Medical marijuana was legalized in the state of Delaware a few months ago although the process to start growing and dispensing has yet to begin. Now it may not begin at all. It seems that certain members of the state government have just realized that although they wish for medical marijuana to be legal in the state the medication would still be illegal in the country.
According to the News Journal:
Gov. Jack Markell has suspended the regulation-writing and licensing process for medical marijuana dispensaries — effectively killing the program — and criticized the federal government for sending mixed signals on law enforcement, The News Journal has learned.
Apparently U.S. Attorney Charles Oberly III wrote a letter to Delaware’s legislators that was vague and threatening. The letter was sent February 9, 2012 but was made public February 13, 2012.
Oberly’s letter, dated February 9 but made public today, says that patients and individual caregivers would not be federal enforcement priorities, but that entities distributing marijuana “could” be targeted. It also says that state employees would not be immune from liability under the Controlled Substances Act for acts mandated by the Delaware medical marijuana law.
Mr. Oberly’s intimidating sentence about state employees is particularly outrageous given that the Delaware law does not require any violation of federal law. Mr. Oberly does not say what actions he believes would constitute violations of the CSA.
In Delaware, state employees would not possess, cultivate, or dispense marijuana. They would merely register those entities that would no longer be criminalized under Delaware law and set up rules dispensaries would abide by for such protections. No court has found that such conduct would constitute a federal crime, and the federal government has not taken any criminal or civil actions against states with medical marijuana programs.
One wonders whether there would be activists who would step up and operate dispensaries regardless of federal law. There are discussions of “tweaking” the current law so people may be able to grow marijuana at home. These mentions, however, may be out there to placate those who will be upset over the halt of medical marijuana dispensaries in Delaware. It is an election year after all.
With the federal government firmly against large-scale dispensaries, state legislators may need to consider amending the law to allow doctor-approved patients to grow their own pot at home, said Rep. Helene Keeley, D-Wilmington South.
“Maybe we have to tweak the current law to make this happen,” Keeley said. “We can’t give up.”
Rep. Helene Keeley may mean well by her statements, but this is a tentative stretch at best. It’s easy to say you will do something for your constituents and even more difficult to get your fellow legislators to vote appropriately.
Activists must contact Gov. Markell’s office today to let him know many are willing to deal with federal laws in order to get their medication. Maybe Markell should also be reminded of the Tenth Amendment.
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