Drug War

Feds Threaten to Prosecute Medical Marijuana Providers 'Whose Actions Are in Clear and Unambiguous Compliance' With State Law

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Last week Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire vetoed a bill that would have clarified the rules for growing and supplying medical marijuana in her state, citing threats of federal prosecution. Gregoire was responding to an April 14 letter in which the U.S. attorneys for Washington, Jenny Durkan and Michael Ormsby, warned that dispensary operators and the state regulators who oversee them both could be prosecuted, since "we maintain the authority to enforce [federal law] vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law." USA Today reports that U.S. attorneys in California, Colorado, Montana, and Rhode Island have made similar threats. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, no fan of medical marijuana to begin with, has cited these letters as a reason to delay implemention of dispensary regulations in his state. 

These prosecution threats blatantly contradict the Justice Department's official medical marijuana policy, which Attorney General Eric Holder says is "to go after those people who violate both federal and state law." In their letter (PDF), Durkan and Ormsby try to reconcile their stance with Holder's by distinguishing between "seriously ill individuals who use marijuana as part of a medically recommended treatment regime," who will be left alone, and "business enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana" (i.e., dispensaries), which will be subject to prosecution. Yet the October 2009 memo (PDF)  that explained the DOJ's new policy of restraint drew no distinction between patients and providers, advising U.S. attorneys to avoid cases involving "individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana." It explicitly mentioned "caregivers" who supply patients with marijuana as one example of such individuals.

As I noted at the time and have pointed out since, the requirement of "clear and unambiguous compliance" with state law allows DEA raids and federal prosecutions to continue in states, such as California and Montana, where the rules for growing and supplying medical marijuana are unclear. But as I said last July, the definitive test of whether the new policy means anything in practice, and whether it can be said to fulfill Obama's campaign promise to stop interfering with state decisions regarding medical marijuana, will be in jurisdictions with "laws that explicitly authorize and regulate the production and distribution of medical marijuana." If the DEA raids government-licensed dispensaries that are "in clear and unambiguous compliance" with state law, I wrote, "Obama's bad faith will be clear and unambiguous." It is getting clearer every day.

A recent Reason-Rupe poll found that 69 percent of Americans think the federal government should respect state policy choices regarding the medical use of marijuana.

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  1. Threadjack: Truly, this administration is populated by idiots. From the statement that no OBL death photos would be released:

    “Imagine how the American people would react if Al Qaeda killed one of our troops or military leaders, and put photos of the body on the internet,” Rogers continued.

    Yes, the Muslim bodies were pile deep after Daniel Pearl was killed and the video distributed. Not to mention various videos showing IED attacks and the like.

    The administration’s moral equivalence knows no bounds – Americans, who committed no violence to speak of against the Muslims in their midst, are the equivalent of Muslim nutters.

    Christ on a crutch, I hope that quote gets followed up on “Tell us, Jay, is it the administration’s position that Americans are likely to riot in the streets if photos of Americans killed by terrorists are published? Really? Then why haven’t they rioted already?”

    1. The other side of the coin is just as ridiculous. I posted this in another thread today:

      OT: Obama not to release bin Laden photo because it might garner the attention of radical islam.

      Yo, we already got their attention…

      President Barack Obama said Wednesday he’s decided not to release death photos of terrorist Osama bin Laden because their graphic nature could incite violence and create national security risks for the United States.

    2. We don’t need to see them

    3. On a “brighter” note, this should take some of the purported bounce out of his polling results.

      1. Pics or it didn’t happen. Seriously does this guy just want to make conspiracy theorists. What’s so wrong about a proof of death? This is political correctness gone amok as far as I’m concerned.
        RC Dean’s right what a bunch of idiots.

        1. Seriously does this guy just want to make conspiracy theorists.

          Yes, yes he does. Because the more he keeps his opponents grasping at those straws, the less they’re focusing on issues of substance where he is failing spectacularly.

          1. If this is the case, I see it backfiring. I truly believe that Pres. Obama can lose the election over this issue alone.
            The whole point of going in with personnel was to get proof of death. Otherwise you just bomb him. Obama has his proof and the rest of us precious snowflakes just have to take his word for it. It shows extreme arrogance on his side as well.

            1. The whole point of going in with personnel was to get proof of death

              Really? I guess the treasure trove of data they picked up was to look for the latest video games, and porn

              1. Dude, Obama was tired of Osama ganking him on WoW. OF COURSE it was about the hard drive.

              2. The reason the White House has stated for putting troops at risk with a raid rather than nuke the site from orbit was to have proof of death. To do that and then not publically release the proof is ridiculous.

    4. If anyone had a brief moment of faith that our current Executive was actually competent this PR clusterfuck should shatter that perception back to nomral pretty quickly.

    5. “Tell us, Jay, is it the administration’s position that Americans are likely to riot in the streets if photos of Americans killed by terrorists are published? Really? Then why haven’t they rioted already?”

      >

      1. Doh…. I was trying to do the “this” thing….

  2. I wonder if bin Laden was killed simply because he was growing pot? Maybe they won’t release the pictures because he was shot while smoking weed.

    I kid, I kid.

    1. Pro-

      Why the disclaimer?

    2. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if maybe the picture would show that he was shot in the back of the head…

      1. They said “STOP RESISTING”, so it’s cool.

  3. maybe try a religious angle (a holy high)

  4. we maintain the authority to enforce [federal law] vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law.

    Look on the bright side. At least DOJ is kind enough to dispense with the pretense of federalism and admit that the state governments are not constitutional entities, but provinces.

  5. These prosecution threats blatantly contradict the Justice Department’s official medical marijuana policy, which Attorney General Eric Holder says is “to go after those people who violate both federal and state law.”

    How is this a contradiction? Marijuana is illegal at the federal level, period.

    I’ve been watching Washington’s ridiculous attempt to medicalize marijuana for a while now, and this deal just keeps getting worse.

    1. Yup, we may as well not even have medical marijuana. There has always been the problem of supply (obviously the seriously ill people who are actually eligible are likely in no shape to grow it themselves) and they’re finally getting around to addressing it, and the Feds fuck it up? Great.

    2. “both” != “either”

      1. True, but do you believe Mr. Holder actually applied real depth of meaning to the logical operator ‘both’?

        1. I have no earthly idea what you mean by “logical operator.”

          1. Technically, the logical operator was “and”. So…

            1. Even so.

  6. From the statement that no OBL death photos would be released:

    A Republican idiot said that. He’s not the kind of Republican who’s meaningfully distinct from “this administration,” but still.

    1. We don’t vote for them either.

  7. The bill Gregoire partially vetoed, SB 5073, was in response to pressure from cities, police and patients to clarify how qualified medical-marijuana patients may get their medicine. The boom in dispensaries ? some of them for-profit and operating like retail stores ? forced the issue.

    Wha… at a profit? Can’t have that. Shut it down. Drive it underground!

  8. “A lot of people who are jumping into this don’t come from a medical background,” Rogers said. “For a lot of these folks, it’s ‘wha-hoo, high times.’ ”

    He said he believes law enforcement will notice the difference, and prosecute judiciously.

    WWWwwwwwooooowwww. I’ve been warning about this for years, and now the authorities are coming straight out with it.

    When you medicalize marijuana instead of just legalizing, someone’s going to notice the sudden jump in healthy young men suffering from cataracts and glaucoma and nausea, and they’re gonna do something about it.

  9. I agree that the Feds cracking down on medical marijuana is less than optimal, but the precedent of allowing the states to usurp federal power is the greater of two evils. This is unfortunate, but necessary.

    1. allowing the states to usurp federal power is the greater of two evils.

      Why?

      1. Racism, Paul. It’s always racism. It’s the Occam’s Razor of leftist nitwits.

        1. I too would choose the lesser of two weevils.

      2. Decentralized decision making. No good can come from that.

        1. I have a feeling that “federalism” goes out the window when your guy is in charge. To wit:

          The debate over federalism in education once followed a simple storyline: Liberals wanted a strong federal role, and conservatives supported “states’ rights.” The No Child Left Behind Act scrambled those sides. A Republican president championed massive new federal demands on schools, and some Democrats, like Howard Dean, derided the federal invasion of local authority.

      3. If I had to choose between a few pot smokers being jailed and the return of Jim Crow, I choose the former. There are already plenty of effective federally approved drugs out there for pain patients.

        1. See? What did I tell you, Paul? Tony is such a predictable little fascist shitbag.

          1. Holy fucking shit. I… Kayyyyyyy.

        2. OH fuck, I can’t stand it.

          Ok, what if Jesse Helms had been elected president? How would your views on federalism change then? I mean, seeing that the federal government used to sanction slavery.

        3. Ok Tony, you know I love you, but this one goes too far. Not only do you present us with a false either / or proposition (IF states are allowed to run their own affairs, THEN they will inevitably recreate Jim Crow), you then go on to defend Big Pharma and their patents on major pain medications. You really, truly, deep to the depths of your soul, are a fascist.

          Tell me, can you hear yourself saying these things when Wilson was president and re-instituting segregation at the federal level, while also encouraging it in the states? Or does your hatred of federalism blow with the wind depending on which TEAM is in charge (oops, Wilson was team blue, yes yes prior to 1965, but I guess if you’d been alive back then, you wouldn’t have had ANYONE to root for).

          Hows this: there are only two federal laws which are applied to the states. First, any legislation passed must have at least 6 months before becomming effective. Second, no state can prevent citizens from leaving that state of their own free will. There you have it. Jim Crow coming back to Alabama? Guess they’ll lose a massive portion of their population to a state that will give black folks a fair deal.

        4. Holy shit! Right on cue!

        5. How does the states leading the way on gay marriage figure into your view of state rights as a trojan horse for bigots?

          1. Shhhh…shhhhhhh.

        6. Tony, you fuckwad, marijuana prohibition is Jim Crow.

          1. ^^^ THIS ^^^

        7. Yeah, women’s suffrage, underground railroad. Evil shit right there. Washington never leads in progress, it waits until enough states stand against it that eventually buckles and drags the few remaining holdouts along.

    2. Are Tony and Max the same person?

      1. No, but they both share half a brain.

        1. That’s one quarter for each. You give them much credit, SF.

      2. In fairness to Tony, no. Tony makes arguments (we disagree with 99% of them) and can engage in meaningful debate.

        Max is 16 years old and is violating his parents’ grounding by accessing the internet. He could spend more time here if he’d just go fucking mow the lawn.

        1. Tony never engages in anything close to meaningful debate and merely slinks off in silence when his points are repeatedly rebutted

        2. Agreed. Tony is incapable of anything but Democratic talking points.

      3. Also Tony seems to lack the Ron Paul obsession that Max/Edward/Lefiti seems to harbor.

    3. but the precedent of allowing the states to usurp federal power is the greater of two evils.

      Just like with gay marriage.

      1. Commerce clause. Two gay people get married, go on a honeymoon and buy a new duvet cover. Interstate commerce.

        But in all seriousness, progressivism trumps any single issue. Progressivism is more consistently in favor of federal power. Therefore you take one for the team occasionally in favor for progressivism. That’s why when Howard Dean started bitching about federalism vis-a-vis NCLB, there was a lot of squirming in Democratic aisles.

        1. Wrong. Progressivism is in favor of it’s own power, which is why it is always shown to be inconsistent.

          It’s a scam, and nothing else.

    4. The precedent of allowing the states to usurp federal power is the greater of two evils. This is unfortunate, but necessary.

      Aye, it is truly evil.

    5. Tony 3:10PM …the Feds cracking down on medical marijuana is less than optimal

      But since they’re Democrats, you have to agree.

  10. One of these days – probably in California – the DEA is going to ‘raid’ one of these establishments and find themselves so many (deserving) Lara Logans in midst of a Egyptian-style riot.

    I can’t wait.

  11. Fuck…. there are attorneys, then there are Federal District Attorneys. I wish I believed in Hell. Then I could dream for a special place for these spineless, arrogant cocksuckers.

    But I think they are just blowing smoke. Are they really gonna go to California and Colorado and raid even a small portion of those dispensaries?

  12. At least the DEA is smart enough not to go after law enforcement personel for not enforcing federal laws.

    Because the DEA would then be in a goddamn shooting war.

  13. I’m sure Obama and Holder will call these US Attorneys back to Washington and read them the riot act about not following the policy.

  14. maybe if the feds crack down on medical marijuana, a real legalization initiative (such as prop 19) on the state level will succeed.

    After the P19 ordeal I am convinced that medical marijuana stands in the way of legalization.

    1. ^THIS^

  15. Dear Jenny Durkan and Michael Ormsby:

    I hope you both get painful diseases and no doctor is willing to give you proper medicine.

    “We’re not going to go after patients! We’re just going to make it impossible for them to get their medicine!””

  16. Obama is a natural born cum guzzler.

  17. I would like to see a governor have one of these US attorneys arrested for sending a letter like this.

    Not sure exactly what the charge would be, Im sure they could make something bogus up.

  18. I thought obama said there was to be no cooperation between feds and local law enforcement? of yeah that was prop 19… still there was supposed to be nothing like this

    Jake

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