Ballot measures easing restrictions on pot did well on election day, but the federal government says it is still illegal. What should happen next? The legalization issue triggered a hot debate for the AC360 Later panel.
For the first time, a recent Gallup poll finds a majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. The panel takes a look at what's happening in states like Colorado and Washington where recreational use of the drug is already legal. Dr. Drew joins the panel to talk about the medical value of cannabis.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to change the state’s medical marijuana laws. The proposal would allow qualified children to get edible forms of marijuana under certain conditions. Brian Wilson, whose daughter suffers from a rare and life-threatening form of epilepsy, pushed for the change. Earlier this week, he confronted Gov. Christie face-to-face on the issue. Wilson says today’s decision by the governor is a victory for his family, but not all patients in New Jersey. Wolf spoke with Wilson and chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Vivian Wilson is a young girl battling a potentially life-threatening form of epilepsy. Her family is finding few options to help her. In his documentary "Weed," Dr. Sanjay Gupta profiled a girl named Charlotte whose seizures were greatly reduced with cannabis. But Charlotte lives in Colorado, and Vivian lives in New Jersey where medical marijuana faces far tighter restrictions. Vivian's father Brian confronted Governor Christie urging him to ease those restrictions, pleading, "Please don't let my daughter die, Governor." Governor Christie says he will make a decision on signing a bill on loosening those rules tomorrow. Anderson spoke with Brian Wilson and Dr. Gupta about all of this.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is making headlines with his new documentary "Weed." In the year he spent working on it, he changed his opinion of the drug and its medical uses. Tonight he talks about the patients it helped and marijuana's potential to help others.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is explaining his new outlook on marijuana. In 2009 he wrote an article for Time Magazine "Why I would Vote No on Pot." But after spending the last year working on the documentary Weed for CNN he is apologizing. Dr. Gupta explained to Wolf why he is now changing his mind.
Jeffrey A. Miron
Special to CNN
Editor's note: Jeffrey A. Miron is senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies at Harvard University and senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Miron is the author of "Libertarianism, from A to Z." The opinions in this blog are solely those of Jeffrey A. Miron.
California voters have just rejected Proposition 19, the ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana under state law. Where did Prop 19 go wrong?
Prop 19 failed in part because many proponents emphasized the wrong arguments for legalization. Many advocates promised major benefits to California's budget because of reduced expenditure on marijuana prohibition and increased revenue from marijuana taxation. Other supporters claimed that Mexican drug violence would fall substantially.
Both claims were overblown. The budgetary benefits, while not insignificant, would have been small compared with California's fiscal mess. Mexican drug violence is mainly associated with the cocaine and methamphetamine trades, as well as from marijuana traffic to other states.
Many voters sensed that Prop 19 supporters were overreaching, and this made them suspicious of all the arguments in its favor. Common sense should have recognized that since marijuana was close to legal already, Prop 19 would not have had dramatic effects.
Prop 19 failed also because it overreached. One feature attempted to protect the "rights" of employees who get fired or disciplined for using marijuana, including a provision that employers could only discipline marijuana use that "actually impairs job performance." That is a much higher bar than required by current policy.
Special to CNN
This year is a watershed year in pot politics.
The Obama administration recently announced it would defer to state medical marijuana laws and stop federal prosecutions of patients and providers who comply with them.
In California, the tanking economy inspired Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to call for debating marijuana taxation and regulation, a bill was introduced in Sacramento to do just that, and four separate ballot initiatives are circulating to allow voters the chance to decide the issue for themselves.
Schwarzenegger's position was echoed by New York Gov. David Paterson and by Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, who suggested legalizing pot could cripple Mexican and U.S. gangs. The unprecedented momentum to question marijuana prohibition is being fueled by a widely remarked-upon phenomenon - the cultural mainstreaming of marijuana.
Editor's Note: The Los Angeles City Council has long debated how to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. A proposed ordinance, drafted by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, was recently sent to the City Council. The measure would prohibit sales of medical marijuana. Most dispensaries would be forced to close, including 186 that the city allowed to operate according to authorities. Read the full draft measure below.
Carmen A. Trutanich
This office has prepared and now transmits for your consideration the attached revised draft ordinance, approved as to form and legality. This draft ordinance would add Article 5.1 to Chapter IV of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) regulating the collective cultivation of medical marijuana, pursuant to state law, in the City of Los Angeles. Pursuant to instructions from your Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee, it includes several changes from the last draft ordinance transmitted on September 22, 2009. The changes are summarized below.
When this matter is considered, we will be prepared to discuss the impacts of this ordinance, the case of Los Angeles Collective Association, et a/. v. City of Los Angeles, LASC BC 422215 and any other relevant litigation. If necessary, we will ask that the meeting be recessed into closed session for this purpose, pursuant to Government Code section 54956.9(a) and (b)(1).
Allison B. Margolin
Criminal Defense Attorney
As the Obama administration attempts to steer federal agents away from prosecuting marijuana dispensaries, the Los Angeles District Attorney and City Attorney’s Office is attempting to undermine that shift by articulating a deceitfully narrow view of the state law.
Despite reports of trillion dollar deficits nationally and a collapsing state economy, District Attorney Steve Cooley says his office is committed to closing down revenue-generating medical marijuana dispensaries and the LA District Attorney’s office continues to take prisoners of war in their fight against safe access to medical marijuana.
In doing so, LA City is threatening to plunge the state’s economy into further collapse by taking potential tax revenues that could be going to the state treasury. Moreover, the City’s position threatens to generate crime by forcing the huge demand for marijuana back to the street. If the free market has allowed for the proliferation of dispensaries, that demand is not going away. The avenue for its fulfillment will simply change and could go from safe to entrenched in the poly-drug trafficking black market economy.
Most alarming, perhaps, is that the District Attorney seeks not only to thwart the proliferation of these establishments but seeks to create a whole new class of felons – medical marijuana operators. And the DA’s view of the state law - that it does not allow for the operation of dispensaries - is not just shocking. It flies in the face of case law handed down by the California courts.