Federal Preemption

California Legislature Passes High Speed Rail Bond Issue, Moving Project Forward

By David Dayen

High speed rail survived by the skin of its teeth Friday.

In a closely watched vote of the California state Senate, a bill to issue the first $5.8 billion in bonds for the construction of high speed rail lines passed 21-16. It needed all 21 votes to pass. Four Democrats voted no – including Allen Lowenthal, the Democratic candidate for Congress in CA-47, and Fran Pavley, the author of the state’s historic global warming law – but ultimately, just enough Democrats voted in favor of the bonds for them to pass. Joe Simitian and Mark DeSaulnier were the other Democrats who opposed the bill.

Attorney General Issues Letter to Lawmakers on Medical Marijuana

By Dan Aiello

Just a week after Assemblyman Tom Ammiano met with the U.S. attorney's office to discuss federal raids on California's medical marijuana dispensaries and growers, California's attorney general has issued a letter to the state's top lawmakers warning that attempts to pass statewide regulation of marijuana must not impede upon the will of the people or further provoke the wrath of the federal government.

"We have started a conversation," Ammiano, an openly gay San Francisco Democrat, told the Bay Area Reporter of his meeting with Melinda Haag, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California.

President Obama's Puzzling Silence on Marijuana Policy

By Neal Peirce
Citistates Group

"Dance with the One that Brought You" is the title of a well-known song. But the Urban Dictionary offers a deeper meaning: "The principle that someone should pay proper fealty to those who have gone out of their way to look after them."

Barack Obama should pay attention. In 2008, young voters were enthused and turned out for him by the millions.

But now? The campus/youth enthusiasm factor has declined sharply. The deficiency seriously imperils Obama's re-election effort.

There's one issue, though, that might reignite youthful enthusiasm. That issue is marijuana — partly its medical use, but especially Americans' right to recreational use free of potential arrest and possible prison time.

Feds To Meet With Ammiano on Pot Laws

By Dan Aiello

After more than two months of confusion amid a crackdown by the federal Department of Justice on medical cannabis dispensaries, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is expected to meet soon with the U.S. attorney's office.

The private meeting is expected to take place next week between Ammiano, the San Francisco Democrat, and Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California. The decision by Haag to meet with Ammiano comes just one week after U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong ruled against three Bay Area medical marijuana dispensaries, one of the dispensary's patients, and another's landlord.

"U.S. Attorney Haag's office has responded to our request and Assemblyman Ammiano will be meeting with her sometime next week," said Quintin Mecke, Ammiano's communications director.

Medical Benefits of Marijuana vs. Alleged Risks

By Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH

In an earlier OpEd I pointed out that according to the U.S. Constitution, the Federal government has no legal right to impose criminal law on marijuana both grown and sold within the State of California (Medical Marijuana and States Rights) Representative Bob Filner called on President Obama to reclassify medical marijuana as a legitimate controlled substance for medicinal purposes.

Feds Grant California Permission to Cut Medi-Cal Provider Rates

By Anthony Wright
Health Access

Yesterday the federal government granted California permission to make significant cuts to Medi-Cal provider rates, raising new concerns about access to care for California patients. Other proposed Medicaid rate cuts were rejected, however, and a new, public monitoring system was required to continually assess whether Medi-Cal patients have adequate access to the care they need.

IMPACT ON ACCESS: Even before these cuts, California has one of the worst Medicaid provider reimbursement rates in the nation. These additional cuts will clearly impact access to care for millions of Californians. While we are concerned about the impacts of the cuts that were allowed to go forward, it's important that other provider cuts were rejected as going too far in restricting access. The new monitoring system now required by the federal government is essential in publicly documenting the real access to care that Medi-Cal patients have.

Medical Marijuana and States Rights

By Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH

The citizens of California voted to legalize medical marijuana, but the feds are now raiding our local shops. As a disclaimer, I have never used marijuana or any other recreational drug; but see its value in alleviating human suffering. 

In a comprehensive review of the science the prestigious Institute of Medicine found that marijuana does alleviate several medical problems: “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base” (1999) and the following year published a version for the general public: “Marijuana As Medicine? The Science Beyond the Controversy (2000).” Subsequent research has only strengthened the IOM findings. 

However, I am not writing about the pros and cons of medical marijuana; but about our Constitution.

Ammiano Calls Medical Marijuana Crackdown ‘Pure Thuggery,’ Asks Senators and Citizens To Speak Out

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

Following yesterday’s press conference timed to coincide with the visit of President Barack Obama, San Francisco’s Democrat Assemblymember Tom Ammiano says he’s “pretty pissed off about this unwarranted attack,” referring to the multitude of federal raids orchestrated by the Administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) on California’s medical marijuana dispensaries, their landlords and patients. 

The DOJ and federal prosecutors have said the raids are part of an effort to stop the proliferation of for-profit dispensaries and prescribe-for-pay doctor’s offices that have sprouted up in California communities with no local regulations for dispensaries of medical marijuana. 

Democrats Call on Feds to Back Off Attacks on Medical Marijuana

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

San Francisco Democrats State Senator Mark Leno and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano held a press conference today to publicly protest what they describe as an increasing number of Federal government raids on Medical Marijuana dispensaries underway within the sovereign borders of the Golden State.

Ammiano, author of SB390 and Leno joined Medical Marijuana patients, dispensary owners and advocates at a press conference held, perhaps symbolically, at the State building on the City’s Civic Center plaza, to call for an immediate end to the federal government’s broad crackdown on dispensaries in California.

Court Arguments Heard in First Case Against SB 1070

By Valeria Fernández

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Does Arizona’s new immigration law mirror federal law or does it go too far, violating the U.S. Constitution? That question was at the heart of the arguments presented Thursday morning in a packed federal courtroom in Phoenix.

The two-hour hearing was the first in a series of six cases being brought against Arizona’s controversial new law. The next hearings are set for July 22, when arguments will be heard in two lawsuits against SB 1070, one brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, and one by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other organizations. If the judge does not approve the federal government’s injunction, the law will go into effect one week later, on July 29.