It’s not so much whether you win or lose, it’s how you control the spin. Thus the medical-marijuana movement honchos seem quite pleased with themselves, even though the Supreme Court turned down the Raich-Monson bid to obtain and use under California law, and then Congress turned down an amendment directing the DEA to honor medical-mj laws in the states that have adopted them. The vote in Congress was 264 to 161.
“‘We pick up votes each time as we continue to educate the public,’ said Steve Fox, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project.” This perfect example of Beltway elitism was quoted in the Associated Press story on the defeat in Congress June 15 of the Hinchey-Rohrbacher amendment. We pick up votes as the public continues to educate Congress. And picking up nine votes is nothing to crow about in the year of our Lord 2005. Rep. Barney Frank told the AP’s David Whitney “that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had been working the issue hard among Democrats and that he felt certain there would 180 or more votes for the amendment.” By turning losses into wins, “reform” bureaucrats keep up the morale of their funders.
“Even Without a Federal Push, California Reins in Marijuana” read a 2-column headline above the fold in the New York Times June 15. The 43-inch story, dateline San Francisco, by Dean Murphy, asserts that cities are now “struggling with the excesses of the law’s success.” What success? More than eight years after we legalized marijuana for medical use, only about 120,000 Californians have availed themselves of the right by getting a doctor’s approval. Opposition from law enforcement has been unrelenting and support from the medical establishment has been nonexistent or weak. If most doctors weren’t afraid to approve cannabis use by their patients -or unwilling to out of humility, since they have never been educated on the subject- the number of Californians now using cannabis for pain and depression would be at least a million.
Murphy writes, “Advocacy groups reported that a handful of small dispensaries closed last week.” Advocacy groups apparently kept from Murphy news that nine clubs, including the busiest in Oakland and L.A., folded abruptly June 6, the day the Raich ruling was announced. The activists thought somehow that news of club closures might cause some members of Congress to vote against the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment!
Journalist Ann Harrison (a Counterpunch contributor) says she was under pressure from some activists to not report the closure of Compassionate Caregivers. She did so anyway in the S.F. Bay Guardian June 15. Harrison had gotten a tour of Compassionate Caregivers Oakland headquarters from Manager Sparky Rose last month. She described it as “an efficient corporate operation with purchasing, human resources, IT, and shipping departments that delivered medical cannabis to the company’s cannabis clubs. According to Rose, the shutdown put approximately 225 employees out of work and impacted about 7,000 dispensary members and almost 15,000 other patients and caregivers across the state who purchased cannabis from the seven clubs.”
Rose told Harrison that the owner’s biggest fear was a tax claim by the IRS in which the cost of marijuana could not be deducted as an expense. Harrison reported that “Valerie and Mike Corral, founders of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) – which provides free medical cannabis to about 200 chronically sick and dying patients in Santa Cruz – are being audited by the IRS, which has referred the case to its criminal division for possible tax evasion charges.
“The Corrals said they are being audited for the year 2002, when 30 armed DEA agents raided the group’s cannabis garden. In 2003 a federal court granted WAMM an injunction against federal prosecution. In the aftermath of the Raich decision, Corral said he expects federal authorities to petition the court to lift the injunction.”
The Ballad of Prop 215
Have you heard of our law called Prop 215?
Passed by California voters just saying what we mean
Marijuana eases pain and grief
There’s many a condition for which it brings relief
The State could not wait to cover up its ears
Long-robed judges said the wording isn’t clear
The cops and D.A.s held a council of war
In secret to dis-implement the new law
Put heat on the doctors that’s the whole strategy
Said Attorney General Lungren then he flew off to DC
To meet with Cardinal Constantine and Rabbi Alan Lesh-
ner Reno and Shalala like a scene out of MacBeth
It was back in December, 1996
General McCaffrey announced the big fix
California doctor, your license is at risk
Big Janet and the neckless nun all tsk-tsk-tsk
What were their names, what were their names
The docs who believed their patients claims?
What were their names, tell me what were their names
The docs who stood up for the patients?
From up in Crescent City down to San Diego
Many a physician had to just say no
Unless you got cancer or AIDS better yet
A letter of approval could prove difficult to get
Paxil and Statins they are eager to prescribe
Viagra and estrogen dispensed like a bribe
The detail men offer them jaunts to here and there
And the board never questions their standard of care
But those brave physicians whose plain common sense
Leads to respect for anecdotal evidence
Get called Dr Feelgood like it was a bad thing
And made to feel fear every time the doorbell rings
They helped a lot of people in a wide range of pain
The data they’ve collected should not be in vain
Sabotage of research, when’s it gonna stop?
The practice of medicine is not up to the cops
What were their names? What were their names?
The doctors who believed their patients’ claims?
What were their names? What were their names?
The doctors who stood up for their patients…
FRED GARDNER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org