Sept. 5 2012 09:20 AM

It's time for Darrell Issa to investigate the DOJ's prosecution of medical-marijuana collectives

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Prosecutors would have you believe that their assault on marijuana collectives targets only the garden-variety drug dealer hiding behind state laws (like California's) that allow for limited cultivation and distribution of cannabis for medical and compassionate purposes.

When they feed you that line, you should spit back one name at them: Richard Flor.

A medical-marijuana patient and provider in Montana, Flor was busted in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Justice. He was prosecuted and sentenced to five years in federal prison. The 67-year-old died in custody on Aug. 30 of two heart attacks and organ failure after being placed in a private prison that was woefully incapable of meeting his medical needs. The Bureau of Prisons bungled his treatment, delaying his transfer to a better facility, and a federal judge—Charles Lovell, let his name live in infamy—refused to release Flor pending appeal so he could seek adequate healthcare. According to his lawyer, Flor was placed on life support while still shackled to his bed.

The tale, as reported by the Great Falls Tribune and the Associated Press, is what happens when bad drug policy meets the corner-cutting prison industry. 

Drug policy is one area where, for sure, President Barack Obama has failed to pursue the change he promised on the 2008 campaign trail and in his early days in office. But, Republicans are no better on the issue. Sure, they'll bang the drum for consumer choice and keeping the government out of the patient-doctor relationship, yet they take no action or interest in this fundamental overreach of the federal government. Even Congressmember Darrell Issa, head of the House Oversight Committee, who has sought every opportunity to smack around U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, has shown little enthusiasm for holding hearings on Holder's DOJ's out-of-control medical-marijuana crackdown.

Whatever Issa's political stand on the issue, Flor's death means it's time to call that investigation. The country deserves it. Flor's family deserves it. Issa's constituents deserve it (one of the more egregious cases was made against James Stacy, a collective operator in Issa's district). Heck, Issa might even score a few points for the Republican Party while he's at it.

What do you think? Write to editor@sdcitybeat.com.

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