Via the Associated Press, the word on the street is that the Obama Administration is no longer going to “beat up on hippies” by busting their medical stashes. At issue is the contradiction between laws in states like California, which allow pot for medical purposes, and federal law, which does not. For years, the Drug Enforcement Administration has been busting marijuana dispensaries, even though they legally operate under state law. But Obama has promised a shift: “I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users,” he said during the campaign.
For more on this issue, spend your leisurely Saturday afternoon breathing in David Samuel’s New Yorker piece, “Dr. Kush: How medical marijuana is transforming the pot industry,” which was hands down one of the best magazine stories written last year, and should, in my humble opinion, be a shoo-in for the National Magazine Awards shortlist.
As Samuels explains:
In the past five years, an unwritten set of rules has emerged to govern Californians participating in the medical-marijuana trade. Federal authorities do not generally bother arresting patients or doctors who write prescriptions. Instead, the D.E.A. pressures landlords to evict dispensaries and stages periodic raids on them, either shutting them down or seizing their money and marijuana. Dispensary owners are rarely arrested, and patient records are usually left alone. Through trial and error, dispensary owners have learned how to avoid trouble: Don’t advertise in newspapers, on billboards, or on flyers distributed door to door. Don’t sell to minors or cops. Don’t open more than two stores. Any Californian who is reasonably prudent can live a life centered on the cultivation, sale, and consumption of marijuana with little fear of being fined or going to jail.