Editor's Note: Mr. Smith has gone from blinking to finger tapping, although he remains in the nether region of semi-function. Although he can now move two fingers on his right hand, he is still unable to breathe or eat on his own. Dick Cheney remains at his side, watching the numerous medical monitors for signs of significant deterioration or improvement. So far, Mr. Smith is still teetering.
Several things happened this past week across the nation that are moving medical marijuana nicely along toward acceptance and legality. To wit:
Mary becomes MaryJaneLand
In Maryland, one of our original states and one where a medical marijuana law was pushed forward from the legislature and not a voter initiative, we have lift-off. Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a law that launches the latest medical marijuana program in the nation. At the same time, O'Malley signed a bill decriminalizing marijuana for the general population.
The governor tasked a commission with developing a medical program - identifying patients, approving physicians, setting up an application process for growers, etc. There are a lot of questions to answer about how the program will emerge, and it looks like it will be more than a year before we get them.
The governor also decriminalized possession of less than 10 grams, making it a civil offense punishable by not more than 90 days in jail or a fine of not more than $500. That's nice of you, but why are you still threatening to jail people for tiny amounts of cannabis? C'mon, Gov. O'Malley, that's draconian. It's unlikely many folks will go to jail over this amount, but it shouldn't even be an option for judges.
We need more laws like Washington, D.C., which recently made possession of less than an ounce a $25 fine. That's what I'm talkin' about.
Oregon growers unite
In Oregon, where voters rejected recreational legalization in Nov. 2012 but the legislature has given its blessing to retail medical sales, a group of growers banded together in a political action committee they hope will ease their pain.
The Oregon Cannabis Growers PAC filed papers with the state. The growers hope to get protection under the state's medical marijuana program, which originally was geared toward grower/patient relationships, not retail sales. The growers plan to lobby state legislators to protect them from prosecution in ways that retail operations will be protected.
It's interesting to me that a state like Oregon, where medical marijuana was made legal in 1998, is still struggling with this. Wtf? Why are growers in a state where the entire system is geared toward linking growers with patients still worrying about prosecution?
C'mon, Oregon. It's 2014, let's update your laws to reflect that. Protect your growers, so they can help patients without fear.
Minesoota likes medical marijuana
Up in the great white state to the north, a recent poll shows that way more people like MMJ than the legislature or even Al Franken, their comedian cum U.S. senator.
In a recent poll, just 34 percent of respondents approved of the job the legislature is doing, and 46 percent approved of Al Franken. But a whopping 68 percent of Minnesotans think medical marijuana should be legal. They don't like recreational cannabis, though.
Just 29 percent favored recreational marijuana - far fewer than most national polls have shown in the past year. I don't know much about Minnesota, but clearly they lag the nation in enlightened views about cannabis. I know it's cold up there, but that shouldn't drive you from reason.
C'mon, Minnesota legislators. Maybe if you legalize medical marijuana, more of your constituents will like you :) Let's see a bill proposing a medical marijuana program.