As Promised, He Called Off the Medical Marijuana Raids—For a Week

Well, this didn't take long:

Federal agents raided a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco Wednesday, a week after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signaled that the Obama administration would not prosecute distributors of pot used for medicinal purposes that operate under sanction of state law.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided Emmalyn's California Cannabis Clinic at 1597 Howard St. in San Francisco's South of Market district mid-afternoon....

The dispensary had been operating with a temporary permit issued by the Department of Public Health.

"Based on our investigation, we believe there are not only violations of federal law, but state law as well," DEA Special Agent in Charge Anthony Williams said in a prepared statement....

A source in San Francisco city government who was informed about the raid said the DEA's action appeared to be prompted by alleged financial improprieties related to the payment of sales taxes.

If those alleged sales tax problems turn out to be the official rationale for the raid, the Obama administration's alleged change in policy may not amount to much. When Holder said the feds would not go after medical marijuana dispensaries that comply with state law, I assumed he meant state law governing the distribution of marijuana for medical use. If he instead meant any state law, the DEA has a pretext to raid any dispensary that allegedly has fallen short of a state (or local?) legal requirement, no matter how trivial, even if state law enforcement agencies have shown no interest in the issue.

I discussed the possible impact of Holder's announcement in this week's column.

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  • ||

    "A light's out in half the EXIT sign!"

    "Let's go."

  • David||

    HAHA. So true. The government is retarded.

  • pmp||

    Good conversation over at NORML.

  • ||

    Words mean nothing to this administration, that's apparent. Shysters.

  • ||

    joe? Where the fuck are you? I don't think Epi pushed you over the egde. I think you scapegoated the race issue because you can't possibly justify Obama any more and are too afraid to admit it. Pussy.

  • ||

    If a violation of state law was the impetus for the raid, why not just let the state (that regulates the MJ dispensaries) go after them.

    It seems to me that the whole "we will only go after those who violate both federal and state laws" is a bullshit rhetorical trick to essentially say "we will reserve the right to arbitrarily go after whoever we want whenever we want"

  • ||

    Ah, the beauty of an overly complex and draconian set of law codes--they let you do anything!

  • Reinmoose||

    "A light's out in half the EXIT sign!"

    "Let's go."


    *shakes head*
    "Dope fiends*

  • ||

    Fauxbama

  • Deluded Libertarian (circa Aut||

    I doesn't matter who you vote for. Obama and McCain are two sides of the same coin, so I'm voting for that Dr. Paul fellow.

  • Jim Bob||

    Nick: joe is busy with his duties in the new administration. I think he's responsible for the right cheek on Tuesday and Thursday.

  • ||

    Warren-

    Awesome! I have not read or heard that one.

  • ||

    Besides the law enforcement community, what political interest group wants a policy that raids MMJ dispensaries?

    I mean I can understand that BO has to be sure to appear "tough on crime" and round up a few "kigpins" and 'crime lords" now and then but, hell, not even Rush Limbaugh is going to call him out if he tells the DEA "no more MMJ raids". And even if he did, so what?

    There are issues where I understand the fear of political fallout but I can't see this as one.

    And if these are just previous Admin holdovers executing old policy. it just demonstrates what many of us feared in the electoral runup. BO is rather light in the executive skills department and it's showing.

  • Kolohe||

    Besides the law enforcement community, what political interest group wants a policy that raids MMJ dispensaries?

  • Kolohe||

    Ack.

    [quoted text]

    The conspiratorial minded would say the pharmacutical companies.

  • SpongePaul||

    If it was a sales tax issue then it was a state civil, not criminal problem. the feds had/have no buisness in the state laws/rules. It would have been the states civil dept that should havew handeled it.

  • Meyer||

    It's not just joe that's abandoned us. There's a wide number of people who seem to have decided that bashing Obama is less fun than bashing Bush.

    They've all fled to Unqualified Offerings where apparently the biggest issues facing us as a nation involve thoreau's classroom.

  • ||

    How many other state income tax non-compliance raids has the DEA done?

    Obama thinks we're all fucking stupid.

  • ||

    Utterly Pointles Rhetorical Question:

    When did it become the mission of the Drug Enforcement Agency to enforce state sales tax regulations?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "Besides the law enforcement community, what political interest group wants a policy that raids MMJ dispensaries?"

    Corporations that supply law enforcement...

    Pharmacutical companies definitely plausible.

    I don't know if they actively support raids, but they certainly benefit.

  • Kid Blast||

    "When did it become the mission of the Drug Enforcement Agency to enforce state sales tax regulations?"

    January 20, 2009

  • ¢||

    Besides the law enforcement community, what political interest group wants a policy that raids MMJ dispensaries?

    People who vote.

  • ||

    Should I worry that the next time I pay cash in a private transaction a vanload of heavily armed DEA ninjas goons will kick down my door in the middle of the night?

  • Abdul||

    A source in San Francisco city government who was informed about the raid said the DEA's action appeared to be prompted by alleged financial improprieties related to the payment of sales taxes.

    I'm not surprised given that strict compliance with tax laws is the hallmark of the Obama administration.

  • ||

    ¢ (if that is indeed your name)

    People who vote have apparently voted in favor of medical marijuana.

    See, the point of my question was to point out that there is no actual political fallout for BO if he tells the DEA to quit the MMJ raids. Not like there would be if he came out in favor of free heroin dispensaries, say.

    Now, yes, big pharma might indeed be interested in seeing an end to MMJ but they don't give the orders to the DEA and all they can do is bribedonate to politicians.

    The voters have spoken pretty clearly on this topic, I think.

  • JB||

    Everyone in this administration is a complete and utter liar.

    Screw the Special Olympics Presidency.

  • ||

    Correction to last para above:

    The voters have spoken pretty clearly on this topic, I think. And pols tend to follow the voters no mater how many boxcars of benjamins some lobbyist might deliver to them.

    Withou actual voters they're out of office, and ex-politicians don't get any graft at all.

  • ||

    all these companies are big sponsors fo the drug war...

    Philip Morris, Anheuser-Busch and RJR Reynolds, American Brands (Jim Beam. Lucky Strike)
    J. Seward Johnson, Sr, Charitable Trusts
    Du Pont
    the Procter & Gamble Fund
    the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
    Johnson & Johnson
    Smith Kline Beecham
    the Merck Foundation
    and Hoffman-La Roche

    this is just an article about the group supporting the Mind on drugs ads

    If you look into it you'll see the same companies contribute to the crooked commission on presidential debates...the guys that ban libertarians form participating.

    The same companies also are corporate members of the CFR and you'll never see any CFR articles condemning the drug war. Remember "Plan Columbia"? it seem like small change now, but at the time that 60 billion dollars in military spending was very important to the military industrial complex, GD, GE, Lockhead Martin...All of these guys like the drug war.

  • ||

    Or the DEA is simply ignoring the administration.
    Bureaucratic inertia is a powerful thing, and the DEA warlords are not going to let their favoritist thing in the whole world slip away simply because some barry-come-lately orders them to. They will stonewall, rationalize, twist and do whatever they have to until the current DoJ either gives up or gets deposed.

  • *||

    "January 20, 2009"

    A date, which will live in infamy.

  • Reinmoose||

    Screw the Special Olympics Presidency.

    hey! HEY!

    That is not fair to the Special Olympics

  • alan||

    Does Holder really have much control over the DEA?

    Did Reno have any say over the FBI during Waco?

    Do the Poindexters really tell the muscle what they can and cannot do?

    There is no real political (electoral) gain for the Administration to allow this to occur, likely the opposite is the case, therefore there is either systemic-political gain in making the DEA pigs happy, or the bureaucracies are far more independent of the lawful administrations that we elect than we realize or are willing to admit.

  • ||

    Should I worry that the next time I pay cash in a private transaction a vanload of heavily armed DEA ninjas goons will kick down my door in the middle of the night?



    Since I started reading Balko, it has become clear that even without a reason, that is always a possibility.

  • ||

    Does Holder really have much control over the DEA?

    That's a good point to bring up after heads start to roll. Please do so then.

  • Kid Blast||

    "That is not fair to the Special Olympics"

    How about Short Bus President Barack Obama?

  • ||

    Do you accept that there are drug transacting organizations that have revenues that greater than one billion dolalrs per year?

    The evidence is that there are. Would it not make sense that these billion dollar companies would figure out ways to donate money to politicians to help assure that drugs remain illegal?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Deluded Libertarian - yeah, golly, I'm regretting not voting for McCain, because he wouldn't have called off the medical marijuana raids either, and with his penchant for fiscal solvency, he would probably have spent three percent less on his bullshit bipartisan bailout.

    Three percent!!11!1!! OMG! I wish I could take it all back!! *sobs*

  • BakedPenguin||

    Having said that, let me add that unless he changes this for real, I hope Obama gets Multiple Sclerosis and is denied the one inexpensive pain relief drug available.

  • smartass sob||

    The voters have spoken pretty clearly on this topic, I think. And pols tend to follow the voters no mater how many boxcars of benjamins some lobbyist might deliver to them.

    Considering the way the Fed and this administration have been expanding the money supply it is going to take literally boxcars of benjamins to bribe any of them from now on.

  • wayne||

    Obama is our Saviour!

  • ||

    Well, that didn't take that long. Lovely.

    I really wish our governor had the stones to tell the DEA to go to hell and post state troopers outside of the clinics with orders not to let the Feds in.

  • ||

    I really wish our governor had the stones to tell the DEA to go to hell and post state troopers outside of the clinics with orders not to let the Feds in.

    Yeah, seriously. Arnold, you CANNOT be president. Might as well use every power you have to fuck with one.

  • ||

    What the hell are they worried about college football for, anyway. Barry Bonds still hasn't been jailed.

  • ||

    After two and a half months of feverish digging, the fauxtarians finally reach the bottom of that huge pile of horseshit Obama left them underneath the Christmas Tree, and discover that there isn't any pony after all!

    A lesser man would gleefully dance about shouting "I told you so! I told you so!" But I'm not that man, so instead I'll schooch over and make room for more inmates in this prison of despair.

  • Mad Max||

    'I'm not surprised given that strict compliance with tax laws is the hallmark of the Obama administration.'

    Ouch!

  • Ska||

    I'd also like to add that (based on my experience) if the CA Franchise Tax Board is anything like the NY Dept. of Tax and Finance, the allegedfinancial improprieties are about as likely to be on the state's side as the taxpayer's. Most sales tax notices are generated by the improper application of your payments by the state tax authorities. It happens all the time.

  • ||

    Or the DEA is simply ignoring the administration.



    That goes to the other point in my first comment, viz. "BO is rather light in the executive skills department and it's showing."

    N'est-ce pas?

    We're two months into the Administration and there are hundreds of unfilled positions. For the nonce they are filled with Bush holdovers. Seems to me our man needs to stop campaigning and get on with the presidenting.

  • ||

    Words mean nothing to this administration, that's apparent.

    Not at all, PL. Words mean everything to this crowd; this is the Parsin' Administration.

    If you look at exactly what they say, you can always find a loophole or hedge or qualification built into it that enables them to continue with business as usual.

    This is perfectly in line with Holder's announcement last week, which saps everywhere took to mean no more pot raids. That's not what he said at all, when you actually parse his announcement.

  • Another Phil||

    I'd also like to add that (based on my experience) if the CA Franchise Tax Board is anything like the NY Dept. of Tax and Finance, the allegedfinancial improprieties are about as likely to be on the state's side as the taxpayer's. Most sales tax notices are generated by the improper application of your payments by the state tax authorities. It happens all the time.

    NY state is currently trying to collect income tax (plus compound interest) from me for 2003--a year in which I lived in Massachusetts. I'm contesting it, but I haven't heard back from them 3 months after sending them proof that I lived in Mass. for all of 2003.

  • libertarian democrat||

    After two and a half months of feverish digging, the fauxtarians finally reach the bottom of that huge pile of horseshit Obama left them underneath the Christmas Tree, and discover that there isn't any pony after all!

    A lesser man would gleefully dance about shouting "I told you so! I told you so!" But I'm not that man, so instead I'll schooch over and make room for more inmates in this prison of despair.


    You realize that is sort of an I told you so...

    Although I voted for neither McCain nor Obama, I highly doubt that McCain would have acted substantially different financially, and probably not even pretended to stop the marijuana raids.

  • ||

    And Gabe, in spite of all the muscle behind the WOD, none of the entities you mention have been able to talk voters out of approving medical marijuna every time it has been put on a ballot.

    Like I said, it's not like we're talking about federally funded shooting dens for heroin addicts or something. The political flak that BO would get for this approaches zero.

  • Paul||

    Wouldn't that be an IRS raid then?

    I keep wanting to give this administration a chance, and I feel more like a chump for it everyday.

  • ||

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/20526.html

    Check this out. I can't believe Reason missed it. Read the comments. You guys just think Juanita was trolling. She is a mainstream thinker when it comes to drugs.

  • ||

    Clinton was like this, too. Spin, spin, spin. I'm ashamed for my profession, ashamed!

  • BakedPenguin||

    John, there were a lot of idiots, but the first 20 seemed split 50/50 or there was a slightly higher percentage in favor of legalization.

    I really think we've reached a tipping point. The data just keeps coming in, and it's only the idiots who argue against pot legalization. They really have nothing - nothing - other than "I think it's immoral, and I don't want my kids doing it!!!" Fairly soon, that's not going to be enough.

  • ||

    BP,

    The 90,000 questions came from somewhere and it wasn't just idiots. I think I agree with you.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I probably shouldn't insult people because they are ill-informed. But that is the only reason I can see for why someone would argue against marijuana legalization. Every time I hear someone argue against legalization, it seems like they're just grasping, or spouting off propaganda from 20 year old commercials.

  • ||

    When Holder said the feds would not go after medical marijuana dispensaries that comply with state law, I assumed he meant state law governing the distribution of marijuana for medical use.

    This is what happens when you ASSUME.

    Except for the part about me, of course.

  • ||

    "I think it's immoral, and I don't want my kids doing it!!!"

    The part which really trips me up is the "and I'd rather see him IN JAIL" part. I don't necessarily want to see my nephews smoking dope (to excess), but I sure as fuck don't want to see them in the fucking slammer, no matter how high they get.

    What the fuck is wrong with those people?

  • ||

    I highly doubt that McCain would have acted substantially different financially, and probably not even pretended to stop the marijuana raids.



    Who said anything about supporting McCain?!?! There were five other qualified presidential candidates on my ballot, not counting the option of leaving that slot blank.

  • Ben||

    If this is the "change we can believe in", then its true, the more things change the more they stay the same.

  • BakedPenguin||

    The part which really trips me up is the "and I'd rather see him IN JAIL" part.



    I think a lot of people just assume that the threat really scares people away. I've found it effective to remind people that they are arguing that pot smokers should be put in prison next to murderers and rapists. That actually wakes up a few people.

  • BakedPenguin||

    As far as the people who actually mean they'd rather see people they care for in jail or prison rather than smoking pot, I have no idea. They have either swallowed the anti-drug propaganda whole, or they are just evil.

  • ||

    So, Il Duce lied . . . What else is new?

  • SIV||

  • SIV||

    or should I say:

    I kept telling you motherfucking DOPERS !!!

  • ||

    further proof that the obama administration is little more than smoke and mirrors.

  • Craig||

    How about an article on Obama's online town hall, where he joked about the most popular question?

  • ||

    Obama and McCain are two sides of the same coin

    If McCain had won, nobody would have had their hopes up for some sanity in drug policy.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Bureaucratic inertia is a powerful thing, and the DEA warlords are not going to let their favoritist thing in the whole world slip away simply because some barry-come-lately orders them to. They will stonewall, rationalize, twist and do whatever they have to until the current DoJ either gives up or gets deposed.

    That "bureaucratic inertia" and "stonewalling" would vanish right quick after a strongly worded statement from Obama that he will do everything in his power to fire anybody in his administration who raids a MM facility in a state that permits such facilities unless they get his personal approval for the raid, and that raid is for egregious violations of federal laws.

    I'm not holding my breath on Obama saying anything of the sort.

  • ||

    further proof that the obama administration is little more than smoke and mirrors.

    More like they'll go after you if you smoke the wrong weed or use mirrors for illicit purposes ...

  • ||

    If McCain had won, nobody would have had their hopes up for some sanity in drug policy.



    Whereas under Obama only idiots had that hope. That many idiot libertarians had this same hope is freaking embarassing. Maybe the anarchists have it right. Oh wait, many of them registered to vote for Obama too. Shit...

  • ||

    words mean nothing in the Empire of Lies.

  • ||

    The important thing to remember is that pot is against federal law. Obama would be derelict in his duty as president to enforce federal law. State law does not trump fed laws. The only recourse is to change the law by legal means. What else could he say?

  • ||

    Oops...derelict in NOT enforcing fed law.

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