« With "Friends" like this, ... (Personal) | Main | Science and Scientism (Political, Rhetorical) »

September 30, 2007

A Good Place to Start (Political)

For anyone having trouble connecting the dots between the outcome of the Raich case in June 2005 and the current devolution of Proposition 215, a good place to start would be an article in today's Fresno Bee reporting that a gray market cannabis distribution facility whose owner has been trying to comply with the law is finally going to call it quits on Monday because he can't qualify for a business license.

Raich was an important milestone because it critically weakened Proposition 215 by launching a futile attack against the powerful federal bureaucracy that had always been obdurately opposed to any notion that cannabis might have any medical uses. Up until then, Prop 215, although stubbornly resisted, erratically enforced, and capriciously interpreted within California, had been making some progress by creating a burgeoning distribution network that had suddenly begun to arract investment from entrepreneurs who had become aware of pot's gray market popularity. Unfortunately, that popularity had been also misinterpreted by reformers: some, like Reverend Scott Imler saw it as a manifestation of greedy pot club operators taking advantage of "recreational" smokers who should have been noble enough to forego patronizing "legitimate" clubs. Others, like Bill Zimmerman, also read those users as recreational, but preferred to pretend they didn't exist.

Actually, most of the patients I've been talking to saw the law as creating an opportunity to be protected against arrest for using something they knew helped them but had been conditioned to think of as either shameful or fun. Others, more savvy, suspected they were self medicating their emotions, but were understandably loathe to admit that pulicly.

The hard reality is that those who sposored Raich were undone by their own misreading of recent SCOTUS opinions on the Interstate Commerce Clause. They thought those opinions predicted a willingness by the Court to oppose a key element of the war on drugs. How wrong they were! The Court's negative decision on Raich has greatly strengthened the hand of conservative elements within the state who want to roll back the clock.

Does that mean that the 1500 customers in Visalia, the friends they've been sharing their pot with, and all the other pot smokers in the Central Valley are going to give up pot? No; but it does make them far more likely to be illegally searched and arrested by their local police. How this will all play out, almost eleven years after the election that produced  California's pot law, is still in doubt,

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at September 30, 2007 03:36 AM