The new delay tactic of choice for medical marijuana opponents is to pretend they are afraid that the federal government will prosecute state workers for implementing and administering medical marijuana programs. It always blows my mind when medical marijuana opponents try to anticipate problems that don’t exist. Eric Sterling, President of the nonprofit Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, put it best in his article for the Baltimore Sun:
“First, the federal drug law explicitly immunizes state officials from prosecution for conduct while enforcing any state drug law. Second, unlike the federal lawsuit against Arizona over immigration, no U.S. attorney, Mr. Oberly included, has ever challenged any state’s medical marijuana law in court. So there is no judicial or statutory authority for these threats. Mr. Oberly’s letter does not refer to any statute, any court ruling or any constitutional provision challenging the Delaware law. Very simply, Mr. Oberly gambled his empty threat would scare Mr. Markell, and it worked…If Mr. Oberly thinks he can persuade a federal court to invalidate the Delaware medical marijuana law for being in “positive conflict” with federal law, he should do so. But no U.S. attorney has ever tried such a case in any of the 16 medical marijuana states.”
That’s very well put Mr. Sterling. If you get a chance, check out Eric Sterling’s other efforts at the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. I have lived in Oregon my entire life, and I have seen the medical marijuana program go from it’s creation in 1998 to the present. There has never, ever been any talk of Oregon DHS workers getting prosecuted for performing the duties of their job. As someone that has a degree in public policy, many of my former classmates work in state government, and they could care less about what the feds think about medical marijuana. They wake up and go to their jobs just like everyone else. Why anyone would want to include them in a debate over a lopsided federalism issue is ridiculous if you ask me.
Is federal prosecution of state workers the real reason that Maryland Governor O’Malley will veto medical marijuana legislation? Or is it because he sees the winds of change coming, and rather than uphold the will of the people of Maryland, he’d rather try to force his opinion on the system. Governor O’Malley knows the science is out that medical marijuana works, so he can no longer cling to that outdated argument. The federal prosecution of state workers argument smells of desperation. Anytime someone is trying to use scare tactics to try to create the illusion that a problem exists shows that they are running out of ideas.