An embarrassing situation has developed in relation to marijuana immigrants from Canada to the USA. As it stands, Canadians who wish to enter the USA can be deported and put on a black list if they admit to smoking medical marijuana legally in their own country. This has happened on a number of occasions when border official’s questions Canadians and ask them if they have ever smoked marijuana. The Canadians answer yes and often stipulate that they have a medical card, but it does them no good. They are then sent back home and banned from America.
This state of affairs is somewhat of an embarrassmentto Americans, and shows huge incompetence on the part of US policy makers and enforcers. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug at the Federal level. It is in the same category as heroin and cocaine, though marijuana has no side effects and is a longevity inducing wonder plant as opposed to other two substances which wreak havoc in the human body. At the very least, there should be some sort of exemption for Canadian citizens coming into the country, or alternatively the Federal government could simply take a mature approach and decriminalize the cannabis plant.
Two Innocent Captures
The latest in a string of illogical arrests was recently seen on the North Dakota border. Two aging rock star musicians, Melissa Etheridge and Todd Rundgren, were withheld on separate occasions on entering the United States from Canada. In both cases the buses were searched and sniffer dogs were used, leading many to speculate that this was a thought-out maneuver and not a random check.
Each musician was arrested on misdemeanor charges, and Rundgren has pleaded guilty. Hefurther stated that he didn’t know marijuana was illegal in North Dakota. In fact, if his bus had crossed the border and entered the state of Washington, where recreational marijuana is legal, his entrance would have been uneventful. Etheridge, in an interview with Variety, was repentant, indicating that she should have known better. But she also said she has made “hundreds” of border crossings that were less robust, such as the use of drug-sniffing dogs. In her own words “I’ve never had a search like that”. The implied suggestion being that they knew what they were doing and it was a targeted search.
The situation is quite bizarre. Etheridge has been a medical marijuana patient for nearly 13 years, suffering from breast cancer. She has a medical marijuana card issued from California and her arrest comes in a state that last year legalized medical marijuana. So, she uses marijuana legally in her own state and is charged due to possession of marijuana in a state that legalized medical marijuana. At present, if marijuana is sent across the border between two states, even if those two states recognize marijuana, it is a felony. And this is the case even if the states are adjacent. If the USA does not go ahead and decriminalize marijuana there should at the very least be an exemption granted. It is a complete waste of police time and taxpayer money to pursue this type of needless harassment. And it is made worst by the fact that it is most likely premediated to capture these relatively high-profile individuals. Either common sense has left the building, or policedeem the matter more important than solving actual crimes, such as assaults, theft and murders.
North Dakota Medical Marijuana Law
Despite the legalization in North Dakota, it is most definitely not a marijuana friendly state as it stands. It features some of the harshest marijuana penalties in the country. Possession of a single joint is punishable by a $2000 fine and/or up to a year in prison. African Americans are nearly 5 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. And though the state legalized marijuana last year, the politicians have been dreadfully slow in implementation, and have actually rewritten much of the legislation in the latest version, though the voters will remains by and large intact. The current law allows people to possess up to 3 grams of medical marijuana for personal use. Medical patients will also be allowed to grow their own cannabis for personal use. It is expected that the Senate will vote to delay the implementation of the law (called the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act) until next July due to a number of outstanding issues. The North Dakota Compassionate Care Actactually passed by a large margin in the region, to the tune of 65%.
Surprisingly, the Health Department of North Dakota have said that the medical marijuana program will costs the state more than $3.5 million a year and a small army of workers to regulate. How they came to such a ridiculous conclusion is baffling, and they have no doubt forgotten to factor in that it will save millions in health care costs, as people no longer need to pay top dollar for infinite prescriptions which keep people sick and drive premiums through the roof.
The Silver Lining
The harassment of innocent and high-profile individuals might have a silver lining. These types of cases garner much attention, as they are quite ludicrous and cannot be said to be anything other than unjust. For this reason, many have said there should be an exemption enacted under the name “Melissa’s Law”, where people will be able to go from two regions where marijuana is legitimate and not be pursued by Federal or State authorities.