Feds vs. States Rights

This week, the battle continues to heat up between the federal and state government over medical marijuana, as California lawmakers call on the feds to cease and desist; a new poll shows 69 percent of Canadians want marijuana decriminalized; and former Dallas Cowboy star Mark Stepnoski speaks out after 20 years of marijuana use.

February 16 -- California's Press Democrat reports: Marijuana growers who believed they were protected by the movement in Sonoma County and across California to sanction medicinal marijuana have been targeted by federal agents in a stepped up battle against pot.

The crackdown in the wake of a key U.S. Supreme Court ruling almost two years ago has swept up seven Sonoma County medical marijuana growers. A Windsor man has been sent to federal prison. Santa Rosa and Jenner men face sentencing in San Francisco federal court. Two Santa Rosa men await federal charges. And one Petaluma man is preparing for trial while another has fled to Canada.

Medical marijuana advocates say they are casualties of the federal government's campaign against people who grow and use marijuana for cancer, chronic pain, AIDS and other illnesses allowed under the ballot measure California voters approved seven years ago.

Federal authorities counter they are enforcing federal laws to protect communities from illegal drugs and traffickers.

February 21 -- Canada's Edmonton Sun reports: According to an SES/Sun Media poll, 69 percent of Canadians favour the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The survey found that Canadians who were teenagers during the "flower power" sixties were the group most likely to support easing our pot laws.

Among age groups, it showed that 76 percent of Canadians between the ages of 50 and 59 support decriminalization while 72 percent of the 40 to 49 age group agree the laws against smoking dope should be relaxed.

The poll surveyed 1000 people between Feb. 2 and Feb. 11. The poll is accurate plus or minus 3.1 percent, 19 times out of 20.

February 21 -- The Oakland Tribune reports: Two Bay Area lawmakers are leading Sacramento's effort to urge California's U.S. senators to secure states' rights to regulate and oversee medical use of marijuana.

State Sen. Don Perata, D-Oakland, and Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, have co-authored a letter signed by 48 legislative colleagues calling for an end to federal meddling in California's and other states' medical marijuana activities.

They want Congress to amend the Controlled Substances Act to allow a medical necessity defense - -- exactly the goal of a bipartisan bill soon to be introduced by Reps. Sam Farr, D-Carmel; Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach.

They also want Congress to cut the budgets of any federal department which harasses, intimidates and prosecutes Californians who act under the auspices of the state's medical marijuana law.

February 22 -- The Duluth News-Tribune reports: Former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Mark Stepnoski considers himself living proof that long-held beliefs about marijuana are wrong.

He has smoked pot for about 20 years, so, according to opponents of the drug, he should be a slothful burnout with blackened lungs, a bit of a dim bulb after baking so many brain cells.

Yet Stepnoski is articulate and remains in top physical condition a year after finishing a 13-year run as one of the NFL's top centers -- all while regularly smoking marijuana.

He feels so strongly that purported facts about marijuana are myths that he's dedicated his post-playing days to setting the record straight.

Stepnoski, 36, recently "came out" as a weed smoker when he took the volunteer position as president of the Texas chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws. He's bankrolling NORML's lobbyist in Austin and has joined the organization's national advisory board.

"Marijuana doesn't prevent you from going out and accomplishing what you want to," he said. "Since I was a kid, I wanted to play in the NFL, I wanted to be as good as I could, I wanted to play on a winning team, I wanted to play professional football. Even though I occasionally used marijuana, it never prevented me from ever attaining those goals."

So while he doesn't want children to use drugs, he believes everyone deserves to know the facts about marijuana.

"We should be truthful to kids and educate them," Stepnoski said.

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson drugwarbriefs@yahoo.com.


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