A decade after Californians approved the medical use of marijuana, the state’s battle with the federal government over the use of marijuana still is being fought hard, with contradictory results, the San Francisco Chronicle says. In the past five years, the number of medical marijuana clubs — stores authorized under state law where people can buy cannabis with a doctor’s approval — has tripled to more than 300. Club operators and pot growers are increasingly subject to federal arrests, seizures, and prosecution.
Across California, smoking pot remains a gamble. Decisions over who gets busted and who doesn’t affect large numbers of medical pioneers, average smokers, and make-a-buck dope dealers alike. Last week, two federal court rulings in San Francisco gave contrasting victories in the dispute over whether the medical use of marijuana, approved by California voters, should be prosecuted or permitted. On March 13 tossing out most of the U.S. charges against cannabis activist and writer Ed Rosenthal, saying a five-year campaign to put him behind bars gave “the appearance of vindictiveness.” On the same day, another federal court ruled against Angel Raich, a severely ill Oakland woman who smokes marijuana to ease her pain and had challenged U.S. laws against medical cannabis. Federal seizures of California marijuana have risen steadily. Last year, Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested 594 people on marijuana charges and confiscated 3 million marijuana plants, up from 359 people and 880,000 plants in 2001.