By: James Davis
Polling data across the board shows unequivocally that more and more Americans are coming to realize the misguided “war” on all marijuana use is both unfair and counterproductive. Hopefully, these changing attitudes result in changing policy at both the state and federal level.
Clear Majority Support – Medical Marijuana
A Huffington Post article last month laid out the clear reality: an overwhelming majority of residents throughout the country reject laws outlawing medical marijuana use. The Mason-Dixon survey highlighted in the story found that 75% of all respondents believe state laws on medical marijuana use should be respected. Perhaps even more interestingly, over two-thirds of all Republicans also demanded respect for medical marijuana laws.
Right now 17 states and the District of Columbia have some form of legalized medical cannabis. Florida is not among them. Constitutional amendments to allow medical marijuana have been introduced in the Florida legislature for the past two years, however lawmakers have yet to actually vote on the measure. This year the proposed amendment was introduced in both chambers for the first time, but that did not result in the measure actually advancing through the process.
Yet, it is important to note that legalizing medical marijuana in a state is just the first step. Residents in states that have these laws still face the risk of being prosecuted by federal officials enforcing federal marijuana laws. In 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that federal authorities would continue to prosecute individuals for marijuana possession, even in states where it was legal. Acting in compliance with state laws is not enough, because federal agencies continue to engage in “crackdowns” of medical marijuana dispensaries. Reports indicate that in the last two years the federal Justice Department has conducted over 170 “SWAT-syle” raids in state that allow medical marijuana. At least 61 people have been indicted as a result of these raids.
Amazingly, federal officials are taking their battle even further. Some landlords who rent space to legal dispensaries have had property seized and been threatened with prosecution. Even newspapers that sell ad space to dispensaries have been threatened.
Advocating Common Sense Drug Laws
There is clear disconnect between the will of the people on these issues and the conduct of government law enforcement agents and prosecutors. It is unfortunate that so many residents often have their lives turned upside-down as a result of overzealous prosecutions and misguided drug laws.
Our Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer works every day with local residents who are fighting drug charges. We understand the lack of fairness and common sense that is often imbedded in the criminal law process. Hopefully change in public support on issues like medical marijuana will lead to actual state and federal policy changes. Until that time, if you are facing drug charges in our area, please get in touch with the legal professional at the Law Office of James Davis to see how we can help.