Let states decide on medical canabis

We at Americans for Safe Access of Western North Carolina have been informed by Rep. Heath Shuler’s office that our congressman will not support the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment coming up for a vote this month. This amendment to the Justice Department appropriations bill would prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration and the federal government from interfering in states where medical cannabis (marijuana) is legal, ending the raids on dispensaries and the intimidation of patients.

So far this year, the DEA has conducted more than 50 raids against legal medical-cannabis collectives in California, ignoring the will of the voters and forcing the chronically ill out onto the streets for the medicine that is often their only choice. Conventional narcotic medications fail miserably for chronic pain and many other conditions … .

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) has sent a letter to the DEA questioning the raids and the new tactic of threatening landlords with forfeiture if they lease to cannabis-collective owners. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment would put an end to this waste of resources and disrespect of state law.

It seems Rep. Shuler’s quick, emphatic refusal to support this legislation points to groupthink and Shuler’s membership in the Blue Dog Democrats—37 self-described conservative Democrats, mostly Southern, espousing the same traditional values hijacked by the neocon Republicans. That the Blue Dog Dems would embrace the neocons’ version of conservatism to guide their morality is disappointing. It makes me long for the true conservative and traditional values as exemplified by my ancestor, Sen. Sam Ervin from Morganton. Sen. Sam was a true statesman, and his constant guiding light and priority was the U.S. Constitution—a document that was amended for the prohibition of alcohol; not so for the modern prohibition (“Drug War”).

It would be heartening to see Heath Shuler rise to the occasion, stand up for the Constitution and lead the Blue Dog Dems out of the doghouse. If their group is frustrating the leadership in the House by siding with the Republicans on crucial issues, the Blue Dogs should read their contract with the people: Their duty is to their constituents, not the establishment and lobbyists in Washington.

Twelve states have now legalized medical cannabis and should be able to decide what is best for the health and welfare of their citizens, as the Constitution stipulates. Removing the federal government from the equation would simplify the passage of North Carolina’s own medical-cannabis legislation. Please contact Rep. Heath Shuler’s office now, as Hinchey-Rohrabacher will be voted on soon: Asheville office, 252-1651; D.C. office, 202-225-6401.

— Ervin Dargan
Mill Spring

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