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Escaping the Medical Marijuana Mess

By simple chance, we’ve managed to create a medical marijuana law that avoids the attention and prosecution of offenders by federal agencies.

In the lower 48, the conflict between Federal and State law is an ongoing problem. Pro-law legislators and law enforcement use the Federal statutes to prosecute when State law won't do, because of legalization. Usually this is targeted at commercial operations that sell to the medical marijuana community. After all, they have a fixed location, advertising and volume sales. If they can’t be busted by State authorities, the IRS and the DEA are free to swoop in. This side-stepping of legalization continues to happen whenever federal charges can be brought – avoiding the state-level criminal justice system and courts.

In Alaska, however, we’ve got a long history of allowing marijuana for personal possession and use in the home. Since the anti-marijuana laws were struck down as unconstitutional (state constitution) in 1975. Efforts to re-criminalize weed have fallen flat in the 30 years since. Most recently, the ACLU filed a motion for summary judgment on the same grounds. The constitutional protection comes by way of the right to privacy in the home.

It’s the lack of dispensaries in our medical marijuana law that gives us the edge. You can already grow up to 6 plants and possess an ounce legally here – medical card or not. What isn’t in the law is a legal way to buy weed. That means no dispensaries and no supply chain at all. There’s no target for the Feds to go after.

Unfortunately, in some other States there is an out for those who still want to criminalize it. Recently, in Alabama, a man was charged with six counts of child endangerment (6 kids in the house) because he was smoking marijuana on the premises. Their law makes it a felony to expose children to illegal substances. While it isn’t envisioned that we’ll get anything like that soon, it does show how other laws (that one was written for meth labs) can be leveraged into prosecutions when the pendulum swings toward re-criminalization.

Criminal or not, if someone is allowing marijuana to ruin their life – if they have an addiction – the legalities don’t matter as much as getting treatment.


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