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August 23, 2007

A Major Defeat and A Ray of Hope (Legal, Political)

The conviction, in Sacramento last week, of Doctor Mollie Fry and her husband, Dale Shafer,  was not only the latest legal body blow sustained by an increasingly embattled medical marijuana movement in California, it could mark the start of a whole new phase of the federal campaign to cripple distribution.

On the other hand, a last minute ray of hope flashed briefly from New England last night when Candidate Obama made it unanimous that all Democratic contenders are (finally) now on record as opposing the DEA raids in medical marijuana states. Whether that’s another case of too little, too late, or signals a meaningful shift remains to be seen, but those of us who’ve been paying attention for a while have learned not to get our hopes up; especially over Democratic signals.

Aside from their inability to add to Ed Rosenthal’s jail time despite a second conviction, the feds have a perfect record: all the California medical marijuana cases they’ve chosen to try have now been convicted by juries in Fresno (Dustin Costa), San Francisco (Rosenthal twice), and Sacramento (Dr. Fry and Dale Shaffer). Those victories can be expected to start paying off rather quickly by persuading other federal defendants to accept (typically harsh) federal plea “bargains.”

In other words, through a wily ,and perhaps illegal, campaign of using federal law to punish activity designated as legal by a valid (and never-challenged) state initiative, they may have finally managed, after years of trying, to cripple California's pot distribution network while leaving the initiative that had given rise to it intact and keeping the initiative’s supporters either mute or mouthing the same old stale “drug war is a faiure” rhetoric that has been their staple since 1997.

All in all, not a pretty picture, but with some hope remaining. However, given the intransigent federal bureaucracy and judiciary any newly elected president would have to grapple with in ‘09, it will take a major effort to free any then serving federal prison terms.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at August 23, 2007 03:05 AM