Inside Opinion

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Tag: dispensaries


What’s holding up that marijuana decision at Justice?

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Is there something about marijuana that leaves Attorney General Eric Holder speechless?

It’s been more than seven months since Washington voters approved a system of regulated, licensed pot sales. But under federal law, everything about marijuana — growing, distributing and selling — is illegal.

Not since the civil rights era has there been such a stark conflict between federal and state laws.

But Holder remains mum on that conflict. State officials are reduced to trying to decipher a handful of opaque statements from the Justice Department.

Washington’s Liquor Control Board is charged with writing rules for the new industry, but its members can only go so far without knowing what Justice will do. Will it move to enforce federal law? Adopt a wink-and-a-nod toleration policy, as Holder did with “medical” marijuana? Try to legally finesse the issue with some kind of a waiver?

Local legalization is a legal dilemma, to be sure, but Justice is full of bright people who get paid a lot of money to untangle legal dilemmas. Holder has thousands of attorneys at his command; it’s hard to believe he couldn’t move faster if he wanted to.

We didn’t like Initiative 502, primarily because we’re worried that it would expand marijuana use among adolescents. But genuinely controlled legalization would be a big improvement on the status quo if it could shut down today’s black market, which readily supplies pot to any interested teenager.

Lest memories fade, we’ll note that Holder and his boss, Barack Obama, also bear heavy responsibility for the existing marijuana bazaar in Western Washington.
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Is medical marijuana making us sick? (A psychiatrist’s view)


By David Sack

The Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, the culmination of years of controversy over the sale of pot here. Meanwhile, in Oakland, a federal crackdown closed the nation’s largest dispensary amid protests and demonstrations. But authorities rarely seem to address the real issue about marijuana in California: Is it good medicine?

Some proponents of medical marijuana argue that pot is “natural” and therefore better, or at least no worse, than legally prescribed drugs, which may be addictive and may carry dangerous side effects. But natural is not the standard for whether a drug is safe and effective.

Marijuana advocates also say that physicians who warn against marijuana merely want to push prescriptions. But just because some doctors practice bad medicine with legal drugs doesn’t make marijuana good medicine. In most cases, it isn’t.

Anyone who wants to get a medical marijuana card knows there are unscrupulous doctors who will give you a recommendation with few questions asked. Without doubt, medical marijuana hands a get-out-of-jail-free card to people who just want to get high. Those who get a card and indulge in the infrequent use of marijuana will probably experience few problems. But the situation is different with chronic marijuana use.

Marijuana acts on cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These receptors, which are the most prevalent in the nervous system, influence just about every bodily function, including memory, attention, disposition, arousal, motivation, perception, appetite and sleep.

Many chronic marijuana users insist that marijuana is not addictive the way alcohol and other drugs are. However, neuroscience, animal studies, clinical reports of withdrawal in humans and epidemiology all show that marijuana is potentially addictive.
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Will the Tacoma City Council protect dispensary neighbors?

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The Tacoma City Council appears to have backed down from a plan to enable “medical marijuana” sales in the city’s commercial districts.

Instead, it is contemplating a measure that would call dispensaries and other pot-selling operations what they are: illegal nuisances.

The move suggests that at least some members of the council recognize that the reality of commercial marijuana is far seedier than it seemed in 2010 – when the council more or less told the police to ignore trafficking if the traffickers put up a sign labeling the drug as “medicine.”

That tolerance policy spawned dozens of dispensaries that are not grandly popular with their neighbors.

Dispensaries were originally sold on the notion they exist to serve people dying of cancer and suffering from other severe illnesses.

An increasing public complaint, though, is that many of the “patients” walking through their doors look for all the world like ordinary dopers. Any honest person close to the industry will concede that it caters to a whole lot of recreational drug users.
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Coming soon: The South Tacoma marijuana district

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Take a look at the map to the right.

The dark spots mark properties where “medical marijuana” could be sold under a plan the Tacoma City Council appears ready to approve. There are numerous potential sales sites, especially in South Tacoma.

The dark spots with diagonal stripes mark areas where the marijuana can be grown in collective gardens and sold to anyone with an easy-to-obtain “green card.”

Note the broad grow-and-sell zone running down South Tacoma Way. Few other Washington cities feel the need to accommodate marijuana sales – which are illegal under state and federal law – so the plan promises to turn South Tacoma and the South End into magnets for many of the region’s marijuana seekers. Read more »


Easy green cards have discredited medical pot

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Restoring credibility to medical marijuana in Washington will require separating drug-seekers from the seriously ill people who may genuinely need it.

Anyone who cares about the latter should be anxious to prevent recreational users and abusers from discrediting the whole system – as is happening in Tacoma on a large scale.

For the last two years, pot-lovers across the state have found it increasingly easy to get the so-called green cards that protect them from the law. Tacoma officials have accommodated them by tolerating a proliferation of illegal marijuana stores that now – according to licensing records – greatly outnumber the city’s pharmacies.

That’s the visible end of the sham, but it’s not the headwater. Upstream, the industry is sustained by ever-growing numbers of common marijuana smokers who’ve discovered how easy it is get authorization papers on flimsy pretexts.

The News Tribune’s Rob Carson, for example, reported Sunday that, after walking into a Tacoma marijuana outlet, he was able to get medical authorization via the Internet from a nurse practitioner in another part of the state.

State law permits providers to authorize marijuana to treat debilitating or intractable pain that can’t be relieved by other treatments. Carson’s long-distance nurse quickly recommended marijuana for shoulder discomfort he normally handled with ibuprofen.

The medical ethics of too many pot docs are a joke. Supposed professionals recommend marijuana to the vast majority of “patients” they see, and they offer their customers their money back if they don’t walk away with a license to use. It’s all about the cash.
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It’s a little late to plead ignorance about pot shops

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Looks like another round of dithering from the Tacoma City Council on medical marijuana.

At the council’s behest, Mayor Marilyn Strickland is assembling a “task force” of citizens tasked with helping council members shirk accountability for letting a commercial marijuana industry fester illegally in the city.

The group is supposed to advise the council on whether it should tolerate marijuana stores, also known as dispensaries. It’s hard to see this as anything but an attempt to outsource the question to people who bear no public accountability for it.

The issue came before the council last year and has been hotly debated ever since; any council member who actually needed more facts on the matter at this point would do well to confess a case of terminal obtuseness and resign.

The council has had time to study the issue ad nauseum. It knows that every competent legal authority, from the city attorney on up to the county prosecutor and the state attorney general, says that the sale of marijuana is illegal under state law, including the initiative that legalized medical marijuana in 1998.

The law does allow collective gardens of no more than 45 plants shared by a maximum of 10 patients, who can hire a skilled marijuana gardener (no shortage of those) on a strictly nonprofit basis.

The Seattle City Council has decided to pretend that this explicit restriction somehow allows dispensaries to sell pot to unlimited numbers of customers.

For the Tacoma City Council, the question is whether to mimic Seattle’s toleration policy or actually honor the law. It ought to close Tacoma’s roughly 50 marijuana stores – which for some strange reason far outnumber the city’s pharmacies – and stick to genuine collective gardens.
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Tacoma council must reject pot-sellers’ latest sham

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

On Monday, Tacoma officials begin what may turn into a new round of dithering over whether illegal “medical marijuana” shops are illegal.

The question: Will the City Council respect a ban that is clearer now than it’s ever been, or will it follow the lead of the Emerald City and adopt a tolerance policy that begs for a crackdown from the U.S. Justice Department?

Contrary to the unending claims of marijuana dispensary owners, all sales of the drug for medical purposes are illegal in Washington under state and federal law. No exceptions.

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Surprise: A responsible medical marijuana bill

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Sober minds in the state Senate have made crucial improvements to a medical marijuana bill that originally looked way too much like a party-hearty measure. But it still needs work in the House.

Here’s what sensible legislators have done to what we once called a Cheech and Chong bill:

• The original would have legalized commercial marijuana dispensaries. To keep sharks out of the business, the revised version requires that dispensaries be nonprofits.

• Marijuana advertising would be forbidden.

• Cities and counties could choose whether to allow dispensaries or not, much like casinos. The original permitted no local control.

• Employers could enforce company-wide anti-drug policies. The original would have forbidden them from refusing to employ marijuana users.

Most important, the new bill makes a serious effort to prevent hack doctors from certifying recreational users and abusers as qualified patients – a problem that has tainted medical marijuana in general and the sick people who have a genuine need for it.
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