Global Cannabis March

The annual global cannabis policy protest day is scheduled for this coming Saturday. See the Global Cannabis March website for a list of participating cities.
I for one find it very impressive that this event, which grew out of the annual May Day Marijuana Parade in New York City, has gone viral so to speak and solidarity events now take place in cities across the globe. (Some cities conduct their events on days close to but not quite on the first Saturday in May.)

I find even more interesting that there is apparently a strong protest presence in Mexico. Is this not amazing news? A Mexican cannabis law reform movement? In Mexico – the failed narco-state constantly in the news because of the 30,000 people killed after Calderon declared war on the cartels? The state whose past president said that the US should end prohibition? How is that no one has paid any attention to the Mexican cannabis law reform movement. Fascinating. I don’t speak Spanish but maybe someone will be my translator….

Assembly for the NYC event will begin at Washington Square Park at 12:00 and continue with a march down to Foley Square. Foley Square is interesting because it is located between the federal and state court buildings. It’s a perfect place to speak about drug policies and the laws that embody them. It’s not much for aesthetics. The event is co-sponsored by Celebstoner, NYC NORML, Empire State NORML, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

There’s lots of other news, most of which is likely known to readers of this blog. The Montana legislature’s attempt to repeal the state’s ‘medical marijuana’ law got a lot of press. However, I believe that the most interesting news item is the federal government’s new statement of position that it will re-prioritize prosecution of dispensaries operating in compliance with state law. Although I have not yet read the actual communications by US Attorneys to state officials stating the new policy I understand that it is a reversal of the policy in the October 2009 memo from the Attorney General to the US Attorneys stating that action against dispensaries operating in compliance with state law is not a priority for the Department of Justice. It was this memo that was construed as the Obama Administration’s tolerance for state ‘medical marijuana’ laws.

The memo was phrased as nothing more than a suggestion that the US Attorneys focus on other things, not a statement that the US government would irrevocably refuse to enforce the Controlled Substances Act against the ‘medical marijuana’ industry. One veteran cannabis law practitioner, David Holland, Esq., argued extensively in a criminal case in the US District Court for the Northern District of New York that the memo, which he referenced as “the Ogden Memo,” actually required the rescheduling of cannabis, the argument being that since the federal government directed its personnel to defer to state law stating that dispensaries could operate legally, cannabis could no longer logically remain in Schedule I. I think it’s an excellent argument but I understand from Dave that the judge didn’t go for it. (Maybe Dave’s argument scared DOJ and prompted a policy reversal….) Again, the only way I see to make a real change in drug policy starts with real changes in the Controlled Substances Act – e.g. abolishing Schedule I or throwing out the scheduling criteria.



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