Today the Obama administration is issuing clearer federal guidelines on its approach toward the burgeoning medical marijuana industry. The administration will not seek to arrest users and suppliers as long as they follow the laws, making official the de facto policy guidelines it has followed since January.
According to the AP, Justice Department officials will tell prosecutors in the fourteen states where medical marijuana has been legalized that going after people legally engaged in the trade is a bad use of time and resources.
It’s not clear exactly what immediate effect the new guidelines will have in Colorado, where dispensaries have been sprouting up to do business in strip malls across the state and where high profile trials have so far gone against prosecutors.
In the long run, however, the new guidelines will undoubtedly work to further normalize marijuana business in general, signaling an eventual end, perhaps, to absurdities like the mysterious outbreak of chronic pain that has afflicted Colorado men in their twenties since medical marijuana was legalized. Indeed, the new non-punitive federal approach may ease out the hypocritical shield that has prevented the legalization of non-medical marijuana.
Of course medical marijuana dispensaries should be for-profit and legal, writes veteran lefty journalist Marc Cooper from L.A., where he has been watching the local battles authorities have fought with the bumper crop of new clinics there.
“Marijuana should simply be legalized, regulated and taxed like good old-fashioned beer. Anything short of that reeks of hypocrisy, denial and general stupidity. It also robs the public treasury of literally billions of dollars in tax revenue currently being siphoned off, ultimately, by organized crime.”