Feds, States Diverge on
JoinTogether.com April 24, 2006
State officials say a new
statement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) denying that marijuana has medical uses won't affect
state laws legalizing medical-marijuana use, the New
York Times reported April 22.
Nathan Barankin, a spokesman
for California attorney general Bill Lockyer, said the FDA
statement is "consistent with the long-held federal view on
this medicine, and that is that marijuana is the equivalent
of heroin and cocaine. California voters disagree."
He added: "There's sort of a
détente. Both sides respect that we have laws that differ.
Federal law-enforcement agencies for the most part have
shown some respect for California law by only going after
those individuals who seem to be clearly not in the
medical-marijuana business for the medical part of it --
which are the same people the state law is going after."
"Really, there's nothing
that's going to happen -- any third parties judging whether
these substances are effective -- that is going to change
Maine law," added Maine assistant attorney general James M.
Cameron; Maine passed a medical-marijuana law in 1999.
A spokesperson for the U.S.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said the statement
helped clarify the position of the federal government and
its intention to enforcement the laws against marijuana use.
said the FDA statement could make it harder to pass
medical-use laws in states like Connecticut, New Jersey, and
New Mexico, which are currently considering such
legislation. A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that federal
marijuana laws could be enforced even in states with
medical-marijuana laws had a similar chilling effect.
"We're going to have members
of state legislatures say, 'But even the FDA has said
there's no medical value,' " said Ethan Nadelmann, executive
director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "That's where it's
going to hurt."