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Can common ground be reached in medical marijuana debate?

June 9, 2011
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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One facility wants to connect the treatment center and medical marijuana communities

The events of Thursday, June 2 offered the quintessential example of how marijuana policy has so many parties tied in knots these days. On the same day U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at a press conference in Rhode Island that the Justice Department would work with states to resolve legal questions around operations of medical marijuana dispensaries, the U.S. Attorney for the district covering Oregon issued a strongly worded letter stating that any marijuana sales in the state, including those for medical purposes, would not be tolerated by federal authorities.

Similar letters from prosecutors in other states have captured policy-makers’ attention in recent weeks. In Washington state, Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed portions of a medical marijuana bill after a letter from federal prosecutors warned that government employees enforcing medical marijuana regulations could be subject to legal sanctions.

It appears the picture will remain unclear until federal officials announce next steps regarding the ever-growing marijuana dispensaries in states that have authorized medical marijuana use. Meanwhile, at least in some addiction treatment programs this topic carries greater urgency.

Stepping Stone of San Diego specializes in residential treatment and support services tailored to the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. Because it believes it could serve a subset of clients who might benefit both from treatment services for a substance addiction and from medical marijuana use to treat wasting syndrome associated with HIV/AIDS, the treatment organization would like to see government officials in California issue regulations guiding such an effort.

In a newly published interview in NUG, a medical marijuana publication in Southern California, a Stepping Stone board member and the organization’s director of development were quoted as saying, “What we are trying to accomplish is to look into the future and start planting the seed for something that will connect the treatment community positively with the medical cannabis community.”

The article cites Stepping Stone CEO John de Miranda’s belief that treatment programs eventually could have protocols specifically to assist medical marijuana users who require treatment services for addiction to another substance. Such programs conceivably could offer sober housing and support group options for the medical marijuana client as well, de Miranda believes.

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