Drug War

U.S. Attorney in Colorado Says All State-Licensed Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Are Fair Game


John Walsh, the U.S. attorney for Colorado, finally has clarified which medical marijuana providers in that state should worry about trouble with the feds: all of them. Two months ago Walsh told 23 dispensaries located within 1,000 feet of a school they had to close or face raids, forfeiture, and prosecution. At least some of those dispensaries were complying with Colorado law, which has a general rule against operating within 1,000 feet of a school but allows local governments to modify that restiction and grandfathers dispensaries that existed before the state started issuing licenses. So it was already clear that Walsh, contrary to Attorney General Holder's repeated assurances on this point, was not prepared to let state law determine whether a dispensary can operate without federal harassment. But when it turned out that one of those 23 dispensaries was near a school building that was not used for teaching, it was taken off the list. That decision fanned the hope that Walsh would stick to enforcing his 1,000-foot rule. Last week, A.P. reports, Walsh stomped on that hope (emphasis added):

U.S. Attorney John Walsh sent a letter Friday to a lawyer representing medical marijuana dispensaries, saying safe harbor doesn't exist for such shops because marijuana remains illegal under federal law….

Walsh said in the new letter that it is at his office's discretion to take enforcement action against any and all medicinal marijuana dispensaries….

[Walsh said] advising clients that there is a safe harbor is "incorrect and untruthful, and would mislead them, factually and legally."

Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said there are other factors that can close down shops like unlawful use or possession of a firearm and having amounts of marijuana not in compliant with state and local law….

Dorschner said it's not possible to answer whether a shop in compliance with state rules and regulations and not located near a school would still face any trouble.

It's true, of course, that marijuana is prohibited for all uses by the federal Controlled Substances Act and that, under Gonzales v. RaichU.S. attorneys have the authority to prosecute people who supply marijuana to patients, even in states that, like Colorado, explicitly allow such distribution. What Holder (and his boss) promised was that federal prosecutors would nevertheless use their discretion to avoid a conflict between the federal ban and state policy. One searches Walsh's position in vain for any hint of such forbearance. 

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  1. Good for him. State’s rights issues always boil down to straight-up racism anyway.

    1. Federalism should be done away with and replaced by complete central control, anyway. That way, when your guy is in charge, you can do anything you want. Until the other TEAM gets in control, of course.

      1. Could we just write very large checks to the parties to make them go away? Here’s a trillion buck. Please leave.

        1. I think we should just move directly to dictatorship. We should occasionally get benevolent ones, and when we do: prosperity!

          STEP 1: Dictatorship
          STEP 2: ???
          STEP 3: PROFIT

          1. We need a better pool of potential dictators, even then.

            1. So you’re throwing your hat in the ring, then. If I offered you a kingly crown, would you thrice refuse it?

              1. No, because look how that worked out for Caesar. Might as well accept and institute my libertarian dictatorship of terror. Live free or die! Literally.

                1. Pro Libertate, sounds like you have a clear cut plan on getting rid of entitlements.

                  1. The Reign of Error begins today!

    2. And to demonstrate that point, most of the people getting locked up will likely be black or brown.


  2. If Obama moved canabis off Schedule I today, would you vote to reelect his dumbass? I might.

    1. For the sake of your sempiternal soul I hope that’s a parody.

      1. It’s a ridiculous hypothetical.

        1. Full legalization on a federal level and then we can talk. Schedule I movement isn’t even remotely close to good enough.

  3. GOVERNMENT: We got so many laws, we can’t keep track of which ones we enforce, which ones we ignore, which ones we randomly enforce, and which ones we enforce when someone pisses and moans, and which ones we don’t enforce with someone pisses and moans.
    But most of the time we just whomp whoever we don’t like…

    1. That is the nature of authoritarianism. It can’t be systematic. Then people would know what rules to follow and it would deprive the authorities of he ability to punish people it doesn’t like. It has to be random an arbitrary.

      1. Rule of Law Man

        1. Hitchens had a great quote about this when talking about the nature of British public schools. He said it better than I did. And sadly I can’t find the quote.

          1. John,

            This is what you want:

            The conventional word that it employed to describe tyranny is ‘systematic’. The true essence of a dictatorship is in fact not its regularity but the unpredictability and caprice; those who live under it must never be able to relax, must never be quite sure they have followed the rules correctly or not. Thus, the ruled can always be found to be in the wrong.

            1. I hope Hitchens gave a hat tip to Stalin on that, since he wrote something very similar, that if you only punish the guilty, people will figure out ways around the law; but if you punish the innocent as well, no one will dare do anything that comes close to breaking the law. (It’s quoted in Paul Johnson’s “Modern Times”, which I don’t have access to atm)

      2. And on the Law & Order and similar shows, how often is this done? Where there’s some sleazebag who there’s no evidence for a crime against, but he’s clearly a sleaze, so they come up with some obscure technicality of the law to hold him in custody or at least force him to cooperate.

        So to the average person, they probably view the tattered tapestry of law in our country as a good thing to help catch bad guys.

    2. “Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted ? and you create a nation of law-breakers ? and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

  4. Wait, you’re saying Obama lied?

  5. God damn it, if Barrack Obama were still alive, none of this would be happening.

  6. This is my unsurprised face.

  7. Looks like Colorado is quickly becoming the main theater of the Federal War against potheads…

    Well, there are about 48 states that would do a worse job protecting their citizens from the Feddies…

    1. Who’s #1 ahead of Colorado?

      1. California has done a pretty good job of tucking its tail between its legs when the Feds come calling.

        1. I resent that. California hasn’t tucked its tail when the Feds have come calling. They’ve wagged their tail in joy.

          1. They’ve set their tails aside for better access.

          2. And God knows how many Delta Smelt have died to provide water for your bong.

  8. John Walsh is just another bureaucrat who is willing to sacrifice any number of innocent human beings in order to justify his bullshit job.

    1. For the children.

  9. What power exactly does a federal judge have to “Crack down” on dispernaries? Can he sick the pigs on them? The DEA?

  10. I can’t decide. Would this be Hope or Change, do you think?

  11. Not sure, same boat

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