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Sunday, July 25, 2010

VA on Medical Marijuana: Groovy, Man!

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs may be knocking the legs out from under South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley's position on medical marijuana. In his official ballot explanation for Initiated Measure 13, AG Jackley notes that the pot-related activities IM 13 would authorize remain illegal under federal law.

Enter the VA hospitals:

Patients treated at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics will be able to use medical marijuana in the 14 states where it's legal, according to new federal guidelines....

"If a veteran obtains and uses medical marijuana in a manner consistent with state law, testing positive for marijuana would not preclude the veteran from receiving opioids for pain management" in a VA facility, [V.A. Undersecretary for Health Dr. Robert A.] Petzel wrote. "The discretion to prescribe, or not prescribe, opioids in conjunction with medical marijuana, should be determined on clinical grounds" [Hope Yen, "Medical Marijuana to Be OK in Some VA Clinics," AP via Yahoo News, 2010.07.25].

This isn't the first time the Obama Administration has signaled a willingness to defer to states on medical marijuana. (Read that again, conservative friends: President Obama defers to states rights.) Of course, if President Obama believes marijuana laws aren't worth enforcing, he would do better for the rule of law by cowboying up and advocating outright abolition of those laws.

Jackley's ballot explanation may remain rechnically true, but if someone violates a federal law in the forest and the feds don't send agents to enforce it, does violation really make any noise?

Besides, why should Jackley make any noise about federal laws? He's all about states' rights—he should be defending South Dakotans' rights to challenge unjust federal laws, just as he's doing with his health care lawsuit... right?


  1. Interesting with the "in the woods" reference, Cory. Seems lot of the illegal pot is being grown in the National Forests these days. I'm not sayin'... I'm just sayin'.


  2. Dang—so maybe legalizing pot not only keeps Bob Newland out of jail but also improves safety and natural preservation in the National Forests?

  3. Umm... what? Oh... yeah. Right.

    Sorry, Cory I just sampled a brownie recipe that this mountain man guy up by Rochford wanted me to try.

    Not bad.

    You were saying?

  4. Bill, you know you should only buy brownies at the farmers market, where they are properly labeled. ;-)

  5. Heck, people violate federal law by running jetskis on the wild and scenic MO River all the time, but there's no federal employee to enforce the law and it's out of the county folks' jurisdiction, so there you have it.

  6. (Jetskis illegal on the Missouri? Seriously? Send me that statute!)

  7. Cory, it's called the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act with period amendments. It's just a matter of time until someone stings a wire across the river. One example ought to stop it for a while.

  8. Yes--on our portion of the Missouri (the wild and scenic part), Personal Watercraft (PWCs or jet-skis) are illegal.

    I spoke with the Clay County Sheriff's office about it yesterday, having seen quite a few PWCs during our kayak float down the river. Their response: yes, they are illegal. But that law must be enforced by a federal employee--a National Park Ranger--and there isn't one assigned to this area.

    County cops and even State GF&P can't enforce it--it's out of their jurisdiction. The person I spoke to basically said, "The sign is up, and we hope they'll honor the law. But they don't, and we know they don't, and there's nothing we can do about it."

    I wouldn't put a wire up no matter how much I hate the things--eventually someone will hit a snag or sandbar going fast and get themselves killed; it will make the news, and jetski use will lessen for a while. I'd like to see bigger and more clearly-worded signs--and perhaps I will make some and put them up myself.

  9. (And sorry for going way off-topic in your comments, Cory!)

  10. Perhaps we need to go Arizona on this issue and pass a law authorizing our local cops to enforce what the federal government won't. AG Jackley would back that 100%... right?

    [Rebecca, your off-topicality is always thought-provoking. :-) ]


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