U.S. Attorneys Say Marijuana Memo Won't Affect Their Anti-Pot Work

WikipediaWikipediaIn my Forbes column last week, I cited reasons to doubt the Justice Department's newfound respect for state marijuana laws—in particular, its fork-tongued record on medical marijuana. Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority notes several recent comments from U.S. attorneys that reinforce the case for skepticism. The gist of their reaction to Deputy Attorney General James Cole's August 29 memo, which was widely interpreted as a green light for legalization in Colorado and Washington, is that they plan to proceed pretty much as before. Here is what a spokeswoman for Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, had to say (emphasis added here and later):

The office is evaluating the new guidelines and for the most part it appears that the cases that have been brought in this district are already in compliance with the guidelines. Therefore, we do not expect a significant change.

That is pretty telling, since Haag's crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries has been one of the most aggressive in the country, featuring the closure of city-supported outlets in San Francisco and a forfeiture action aimed at shutting down Oakland's Harborside Health Center, the state's largest dispensary. In a February 2011 letter to Oakland's city attorney, Haag declared, "We will enforce the [Controlled Substances Act] vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law."

Haag has argued that Harborside's size makes it an appropriate target, saying it "is not complying with California's law because it is a large-scale operation that processes millions of dollars worth of business." More generally, she says, "the larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state's medical marijuana laws and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need." Yet California law allows collective cultivation by patients and caregivers, and it does not impose a limit on how many people can participate in such organizations. Furthermore, Cole's memo instructs U.S. attorneys that "in exercising prosecutorial discretion, prosecutors should not consider the size or commercial nature of a marijuana operation alone as a proxy for assessing whether marijuana trafficking implicates the Department's enforcement priorities." The statement from Haag's office implies that she will continue doing just that.

Michael Cotter, the U.S. attorney for Montana, likewise says the Cole memo would not have been an obstacle to his prosecutorial crusade against dispensaries, which included a case that threatened one co-owner with life in prison. "I don't think it would have changed how we conducted business," Cotter told the Associated Press. "I think we have to see how it evolves over time....It's not going to affect the way we do business here in Montana."

Jenny Durkan, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Montana, also sees no reason to change her approach to enforcing the federal ban on marijuana:

We have consistently focused on federal enforcement priorities in Western Washington, and have worked with our state and local partners to ensure the safety of our communities. That will not change. We will continue to enforce the Controlled Substances Act. 

While Durkan has been less aggressive in targeting dispensaries than Michael Ormsby, her counterpart in the Eastern District of Washington, in 2011 she co-signed a letter with him warning then-Gov. Christine Gregoire that "we maintain the authority to enforce [the Controlled Substances Act] vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law." The letter threatened to prosecute not only growers and sellers but also "others who knowingly facilitate" their actions, which Gregoire interpreted as a threat to state employees who license and regulate dispensaries. Gregoire cited that legal danger when she vetoed a bill that would have clarified the rules for supplying marijuana to patients.

Dispensaries in California, Montana, and Washington operate in a legal gray area, since they are not licensed and regulated by the state. Hence Haag, Cotter, and Durkan can always argue that the dispensaries they target are not really authorized by state law, although they also have made it clear that compliance with state law is not a shield against federal prosecution. Colorado, by contrast, has licensed and regulated (in theory, at least) dispensaries since 2010. But that did not stop John Walsh, the U.S. attorney there, from targeting more than 50 of them for closure, based on the claim that they were too close to schools. Then again, Walsh has let hundreds of dispensaries throughout the state continue to operate, even though they are equally vulnerable to seizure and prosecution under federal law and even though shutting down the others required nothing more than threatening letters. So when his office says "there's not going to be a substantial change" in the wake of the Cole memo, that could be interpreted as good news.

As Angell notes, activists such as Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project "have pointed out that it seems to be the case that federal prosecutors have largely not interfered in states that have robust regulatory systems to control the marijuana industry and that the harassment mostly seems to occur in states that do not have clear regulations in place, such as California, Montana and Washington." Walsh's relatively light-handed approach may be the best example of regulation's value as a talisman against federal meddling, since a nascent cannabis industry has been openly operating in Colorado for years.

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  • SugarFree||

    1. Perfect name.

    2. Fire her.

  • Aresen||

    With her attitude to the law, she's probably in line for a SCOTUS appointment.

  • JW||

    She even looks evil, which is a shame. All she really needs is a hooded cape to complete the look.

  • Almanian!||

    And a cackling laugh

  • Marc F Cheney||

    She looks like a villain from Final Fantasy or WOW or some crap like that.

  • CE||

    Is it a requirement for US attorneys to look evil, or does the job do that to them?

  • ||

    I have a feeling it's more about who is attracted to the job.

  • ||

    she looks like she should be playing some evil albino character on GoT

  • ethernot||

    Rumor has it they first took a picture of her smiling, but that anyone who saw it went insane and gouged their eyeballs out … Oh well, maybe someone will drop a house on her, or perhaps melt her with a bucket of water; then we'll just have to figure out what to do with all those damn flying monkeys ...

  • Raston Bot||

    yeah, no kidding. monkey meat sells for only $5 in the DRC right now. not exactly a high demand commodity on the CME.

  • JW||

    I think to actually be evil is the requirement. Eventually, the soul leeches out onto the skin.

  • ||

    I'd still hit it.

  • Almanian!||

    Be careful!

  • Loki||

    Maybe you could fuck the evil out of her. I doubt it though.

  • ||

    It's hard to be evil when you're wiping jizz out of your eye.

  • Finrod||

    A friend of mine likes to quote "Don't stick your dick in crazy". I think "Don't stick your dick in evil" works too.

  • FYTW||

    In all honesty, whoever came up with "Don't stick your dick in crazy" probably never actually did it.

    Crazy chicks are oftentimes fantastic in the sack. The problem isn't the sex; it's everything else. So by all means stick your dick in crazy -- just, afterwards, run like hell.

  • SIV||

    First Obama freed the gays, then he freed the weed.

  • Aresen||

    Glad to have an update on what's happening over in the Alternate Universe.

    Is the Afghan War over there? And how is Obama's state visit to Syria going?

  • SIV||

    Obama is having a ribbon splicing ceremony to celebrate the closure of Gitmo.

  • Almanian!||

    nice

  • tarran||

    They wouldn't be saying this shit without Holder giving them a green light to continue the prosecutions.

  • Libertymike||

    Nah, remember the animal we are discussing here. See Epi's post above.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Fuck you you fucking hag!

  • tarran||

    Is there a more vile class of villainous scum and criminality in the U.S. government than the U.S. Attorneys?

  • ||

    Congress?

  • tarran||

    The Congress just makes stupid laws and lives off of the graft.

    The U.S. attorneys *enforce* those laws and engage in very little graft (comparatively).

    They ain't getting rich; they're satisfying their lust for human suffering. And that's worse.

    If the Illinois Nazis were to take over, that bitch would energetically be rounding up undesirables and volk-enemies to send them to the death camps, and if she expressed any regret, it would be to blame the victims for making her do such distasteful things.

  • JW||

    So, Lone tarran, now you see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.

  • ||

    This is the kind of cunt you need when you want to say enforce federal law.... say the Indian Removal Act of 1830. What a vile cunt.

  • Loki||

    "The US Attorney's office. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    http://images4.wikia.nocookie......Keeper.gif

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    I was going to say she looks like a Targaryen from Game of Thrones. Which is actually sort of a compliment.

  • ||

    Except the Targaryens are generally actually attractive.

  • JW||

    For a woman in her mid-40's (presumably) and has let herself go gray, she doesn't look bad at all.

    That she's one step up from concentration camp warden, is what screws the pooch.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Restraint is for the little people.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "We will enforce the [Controlled Substances Act] vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law."

    Fuck you, puny civilian. HAAG SMASH!

  • Hugh Akston||

    Edgar Winter really sold out.

  • SugarFree||

    "Die, you pasty-faced goons!"

  • Jon Lester||

    Of course they don't want to do harder work. They all want to be judges, so they want all the easy cases they can get.

  • ||

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Michael Cotter, the U.S. attorney for Montana

    I think that's the same cocksucker who wrote a "guest editorial" in the Billings Gazette in favor of common-sense wholesale civilian disarmament. For the children OFFICER SAFETY!

  • sarcasmic||

    She looks like one of the stupid aliens on that stupid show Defiance.

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm4140998912/ch0382421

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Data has really let himself go.

  • ||

    Except Jaime Murray is hot.

  • ||

    I hope you've watched her season on Dexter, and she was also a semi-main character on the now canceled Ringer.

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    "Pardon my tits!"

  • ||

    No but I have watched her get naked and have sex with Lucy Lawless in Spartacus.

  • ||

    That works too. She's particularly psycho in her Dexter season, as she ends up being his target for that season, and he manages to have an affair with her as well. Come to think of it, she was kind of a psycho in Ringer too, and she's sort of a psycho in Defiance as well. I suspect Miss Murray enjoys playing psychos.

  • SugarFree||

    Or it's "Act what you know."

  • Finrod||

    First ran across her as Helena G. Wells in Warehouse 13, which I'm still butthurt that the pigfuckers have canceled.

  • Louis Cypher||

    They really should just end prohibition. All it does is waste lives and money.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    They really should just end prohibition. All it does is waste lives and money.

    According to a certain former Secretary of State, we cannot allow prohibition to end because "There's too much money in it."

  • ||

    Ken, please avert your eyes:

    Fuck this cunt!! Obviously this cunt hasn't been laid in a while. Fuck, I think it is something that might give Steve Smith a jiffy of a pause.

    I am guessing that that if there is a silver lining is that there are US attorneys out there who know that the war on drugs is a loser.

    IMHO, we have turned the corner. For stupid cunts like this, you should be warned that in 10 or so years, you'll be considered the same kind of person that tried to enforced segregation or miscegenation laws.. History isn't going to be on your side. And if you weren't such a stupid cunt, you'd understand that.

  • Loki||

    Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California

    You ever notice how some people's names are entirely appropriate to their personality and/ or appearance?

  • SugarFree||

    For example, my real name is Badlink MacFilthsmith.

  • ||

    I thought your real name was Felch MacAsshole.

  • SugarFree||

    I got gay married into a polygamous cult.

  • ||

    Can I join?

  • Loki||

    You're too gay even for them.

  • SugarFree||

    What Loki said.

  • sarcasmic||

    They only take unwilling converts.

  • John||

    You just have to be a deeply unpleasant person to make your living entirely doing government prosecution, especially for the feds.

    Think about it. This women never once thought it might be better to represent people rather than put them in jail, even though she no doubt had plenty of offers to make more money doing so. No. She would rather make an okay living throwing people in jail.

    I am pretty law and order. But someone who never gets tired of throwing people in prison, probably has some personal issues they ought to deal with.

  • sarcasmic||

    Power is its own reward.

  • John||

    Yup. Do a google search and find the video of the former US Attorney who is now some under dean of something or other raging at James O'Keefe when O'Keefe showed up at his door and politely offered to give him a copy of his book.

    Watch that video. It is both funny and disturbing as hell. You can see just see the rage and hatred in the guy's eyes. He is so fucking angry that some prole like O'Keefe can even dare to look him in the eye. This is a look of a guy who once was a US Attorney. Who used to have so much power that no one dared even speak to him without permission. And now he is just some schmuck law school dean who has to put up with smart asses showing up at his door step giving him books.

    It is funny as hell to watch him rage about his reduced position and scary as shit to think about the kind of power he once had.

  • Raston Bot||

    I was more disgusted by the armed stooges standing by his side who then arrested O'Keefe for trespassing.

  • John||

    I didn't think O"Keefe got arrested. And the goons make the guy look even more pathetic. Only someone who has never once been held accountable for anything could throw that kind of a temper fit. Talk about a complete lack of self control or self respect.

  • Raston Bot||

    It appeared they detained him. Arrest not confirmed.

  • Loki||

    As was stated above, these (US attorneys in general, but particularly Ms. Haag, I'm sure) are exactly the kind of people who wouldn't think twice about loading their fellow citizens onto cattle cars. They're pretty much the lowest people on Earth.

  • sarcasmic||

    Power is not a means. It is an end.

  • JW||

    I always wondered if these are the people who were unmercifully picked on in school. They'll have their revenge, if it's the last thing they do.

  • John||

    It is one thing to do it for a while. But to just do that year after year and never once wake up in the morning and say you can't take it anymore, means you are a deeply strange person. And I don't mean you turn into some free the prisoners hippie. I just mean at some point working around human suffering every day starts to get to you and you would like to do a job that doesn't involve that.

  • Finrod||

    Evil and soulless, not strange.

  • ||

    How much could she have been picked on? She looks like she was pretty hot 45 years ago.

  • sarcasmic||

    They were probably the ones doing the unmerciful picking, and they're just continuing to be cruel as adults.

  • John||

    If Rand Paul were to get elected President and didn't fire every single US attorney on his first day in office, I would consider him a fraud. All of these clowns have to go. There is not a single one of them who isn't objectively awful.

  • Libertymike||

    You are willing to give him the whole day?

    Wouldn't a couple of hours suffice?

  • sarcasmic||

    Wouldn't matter. Same reason why "Throw the bums out of Congress" wouldn't work. The kind of person who is attracted to the job is a piece of shit to begin with, so it doesn't much matter who you replace them with. They're still going to be pieces of shit.

  • John||

    Yes. You need to fire everyone who works there as well. But the people you appoint to replace these clowns are the first step towards doing that.

  • sarcasmic||

    And I'm saying that it doesn't matter. Who is going to willingly enforce laws that are obviously immoral and unjust except someone who cares only for the power of the office?

  • John||

    they don't have to. It is called prosecutorial discretion.

  • sarcasmic||

    Ah yes. Rule of man.

  • John||

    It can go both ways.

  • CE||

    But you could replace all the current evil US attorneys with new US attorneys whose sole job would be to prosecute government employees who violate the rights of individuals.

  • Finrod||

    This comports with some advice I've read written for Republicans taking control of government: the very first thing you do is that you fire every single political appointee in the entire government that you can. It's better to let those positions go vacant than to leave people from the previous administration that will do their damnedest to undermine anything and everything you do. The bureaucracy will continue to function without them, that's what it does, don't worry about that.

  • Raston Bot||

    Whoever photoshopped all the cat hair off her black suit deserves a medal.

  • Bryan C||

    ...Whose frown, and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    the hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
    and on the pedestal these words appear:
    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

  • R C Dean||

    Search Google images under her name. About the 10th pic is her wearing a no-bullying tshirt. In case you were suffering an irony deficiency.

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