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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Marijuana Legalization is Election Issue

This past August, I was fortunate to have some business in the Greater Los Angeles area.  I was amazed at how many medical marijuana shops were open for business along Hollywood Blvd. and Sunset.  Even though California's big outright legalization initiative failed in 2010 [the medical pot lobby crushed it], marijuana is all-but-legal in Cali.

This week, Mexico, the biggest illegal supplier of pot to the U.S. market, is reportedly taking a very close look at three other Western states seeking to legalize marijuana outright through ballot initiatives on Tuesday: Oregon, Washington and Colorado.  According to The Economist, these initiatives have a very  good chance to pass in Colorado and Washington, while Oregon is considered a "long shot".

A long-standing argument for legalization is that it would put the drug cartels South of the boarder out of business to the extent that America could supply its own stash.  The past three Mexican presidents have all stated publicly that legalization in the U.S. would have the greatest effect on dismantling these vicious criminal gangs.

Marijuana produced by skilled Gringo horticulturalists, the argument goes, is of better quality and is cheaper to produce, than the Mexican import.  Also, it could be taxed like cigarettes to produce much-needed government revenue.

We here at the Law Blogger wonder if it is not indeed time to consider whether a policy change on this issue is due.  The three-decade policy of drug war eradication has been a prolonged costly failure.

Drug trade policy is one thing; federal law is another.  Any significant change in this direction would require that simple marijuana use and possession be removed from the list of federal drug crimes by Congress.  That is going to take some big-time lobbying.

In this regard, a California pot lobby, Americans for Safe Access, has convinced the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to take a look at the science of marijuana in its case against the Drug Enforcement Agency.  Appellate oral arguments were heard in mid-October; the panel assigned to decide the case ordered additional briefings from the pot lobbyists and the DEA immediately following arguments.

The opinion, which could have a significant impact on the federal marijuana laws, is expected from the intermediate federal appellate court in a few months, and will be SCOTUS-bound thereafter.  We will continue to keep you advised on this landmark drug case; in the meantime, let's see what happens on Tuesday.

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