An obstacle to D.C.'s medical marijuana law
By Eric E. Sterling
The April 19 editorial “Medical marijuana” made a wise observation regarding the D.C. medical marijuana law — “critical details will need to be worked out in its implementation” — but did not mention the key obstacle: the federal drug law and the Drug Enforcement Administration opposition. The D.C. law and those of 14 states are messy because they need to work around federal law. D.C. and the states would benefit from DEA cooperation, not opposition stubbornly grounded on the Constitution’s supremacy clause.
Aside from the Mexican drug trafficking organizations, the big challenge for the next DEA administrator is to help the states and D.C. implement their medical marijuana laws. President Obama’s nominee, Michele M. Leonhart, has been at the top of DEA for seven years as deputy and acting administrator. Previously she was DEA special agent-in-charge in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. Since 1997, she has led DEA in resisting state medical marijuana laws. She lacks an essential qualification: a commitment to working with the states to implement these compassionate laws. The Senate Judiciary Committee should look closely at her record and her willingness to carry out that mission.
The writer is president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation.
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