A New Mexico man using medical marijuana under a new state law to treat his chronic pain has become a target of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Under a state law enacted earlier this year, New Mexican patients are legally allowed to pursue marijuana as a treatment option in consultation with their doctors.
The legal landscape is complicated for people like this man, Leonard French, who has been wheelchair bound since losing the use of his legs in a motorcycle accident. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich that the Commerce Clause allows federal authorities to prosecute citizens who possess or grow marijuana, even for medical purposes and under the rules set forth by a state statute.
This leaves patients, even those who believe they are in complete compliance with the law, vulnerable to severe punishment for doing nothing more than utilizing a method of pain control they and their doctors have deemed appropriate for their circumstances.
New Mexico was the 12th state to pass such legislation. Given this, the problems French is facing could impact anyone in one of those states who has pursued marijuana as a treatment option under state law. The DEA could conceivably decide at any time to crack down on patients in those states and prosecute them for possession.
While I acknowledge the DEA has the authority to do this, I think it is pathetic they would choose to make a man who is obviously experiencing so much suffering the target of their energy and attention. French hardly seems like someone who should be the focus of federal law enforcement resources.
If you are as outraged as I am, I encourage you to write to federal authorities to speak out about this matter. Congress.org is an excellent tool for easily sending a letter to the President, your Senators and your Representatives. If you need some inspiration for wording your letter, visit the website of the Drug Policy Alliance, the organization that alerted me to this situation.
- Drug Bust Sparks Questions About N.M. Medical Marijuana Law
Las Cruces Sun-News
- Richardson to Legalize Medical Marijuana
- Supreme Court Allows Prosecution of Medical Marijuana
- Gonzales v. Raich
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