Marijuana

Will Obama Free the Legal Marijuana Distributors He's Already Imprisoned?

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The Obama administration's Department of Justice may finally be taking a step back from its all-out assault on legal

10 years in federal prison.

marijuana sales with the issuing of a memo from Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole. As Jacob Sullum reported earlier, the memo indicates that the feds will tolerate marijuana sales under certain conditions in states such as Colorado and Washington that have legalized it for recreational use.

Of course, anything in the memo is completely non-binding and can be revised at any time.

In a major shift in tone and policy, the DOJ has made it clear in this memo that the size, scope and profitability of a marijuana retailer should not affect enforcement priorities:

 …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 listed above.

What are those "enforcement priorities"? Preventing sale to minors, cutting off gang and cartel funds, stopping sales over state lines, cracking down on marijuana sales used as a cover for harder drug sales, prosecuting the use of firearms in the distribution process, preventing "drugged driving," eradicating growth of marijuana on public lands, and prohibiting use of marijuana on federal property.

So what about the hundreds of medical marijuana users and distributors that the Obama administration has already prosecuted, people who did nothing to threaten any of the "enforcement priorities" listed above? According to a NORML survey of court records, the Obama administration has prosecuted 80 percent more medical marijuana cases than its predecessor. And as we've documented here before, the stated enemy of the DOJ in many of these cases is, yes, profit.

Take the case of medical marijuana dispensary operator Aaron Sandusky. This is a man who complied with California state law, paid his taxes, even worked with the FBI to bring down the corrupt mayor of his town! But because he ran three successful, profitable dispensaries he became a target and was raided on multiple occasions. Sandusky refused to close up shop, believing that the Constitution afforded Californians the opportunity to make their own laws.

"This is a Constitutional battle, and we're going to defend our rights," said Aaron Sandusky in an interview with Reason TV. "If I have to go to jail for 20 years defending this, then so be it," says Sandusky.

And go to jail he did. Sandusky now sits in a federal prison in Texas (prisons being too crowded in California), eight months into a 10-year sentence. He's not locked up for selling to minors, or selling heroin, or running guns, or funding cartels.

Aaron Sandusky is in prison for the size and commercial nature of his medical marijuana operation.

The instructions for Presidential commutation of federal prison sentences are freely available online.

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  1. No.

  2. Being President means never having to say you’re sorry!

  3. Hasn’t Obama used his pardon power less than any previous president?

    1. Pardons don’t help him. So…

    2. Yes.

      He also ought to commute the sentences of those subject to the length crack sentences (which were supported by Charlie Rangel and the CBC back in the ’80s when passed– then the argument from Rangel was that Reagan was racist for ignoring the black community and not being tough enough against crack dealers)

  4. How would it lower his golf handicap? It wouldn’t, so they can rot.

  5. Ya sniveling babies. He hasn’t even really begun to put the cops and the NSA to work!

  6. cutting off gang and cartel funds

    So a marijuana retailer doesn’t have to pay taxes anymore? Sweet. Now if I could cut off my gang and cartel funds.

    1. That was funny Paul. Can I call you Paul? But if I recall correctly Sandusky always paid his taxes.

  7. Will Obama Free the Legal Marijuana Distributors He’s Already Imprisoned?

    AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!11!!! *inhales deeply* BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!1!!!!

    That’s a good one, thanks.

  8. Fuck Them, That’s Why.

  9. prohibiting use of marijuana on federal property

    Good thing that’s really hard to find out in Colorado and Washington!

    1. Assuming you’re being sarcastic, considering the amount of federal lands out west.

  10. Zach, you need to up your cynicism.

    “the size, scope and profitability of a marijuana retailer should not affect enforcement priorities”

    is critically different from

    “prosecutors should not consider the size or commercial nature of a marijuana operation alone as a proxy”

  11. The Obama administration’s Department of Justice may finally be taking a step back from its all-out assault on legal10 years in federal prison. marijuana sales with the issuing of a memo from Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole.

    I’m not even sure we all read the same memo. To me it didn’t clarify dick. I can’t invest a great deal of time, effort and money into a business when its continued legality is at the complete and utter whim of federal prosecutors.

  12. Don’t believe a word of it, they are absolutely still busting people for operating legal businesses.

    The Feds just last week shut down OC’s finest dispensary (winner of OC Weekly’s 2012 “reader’s choice” award for best collective). Interesting how all the articles about it have disappeared, but it’s still in Google’s cache.

    http://webcache.googleusercont…..=firefox-a

  13. “So, Mr. President, either this represents a policy change, in which case why don’t you commute the sentences of those convicted under your previous, more punitive policy, OR…you haven’t changed your policy at all and are just jerking us around. Have I got this right?”

    “You forgot Option 3 – FYTW.”

  14. Obama giveth, Obama taketh away. He giveth until the 2014 elections as a sop to the young and libertarian. After 2014 he will taketh away to keep the money and power hungry anti-drug behemoth happy.

    The war on drugs is about power and control and power hungry control freaks will never give up.

  15. Well Governor Brown in CA would rather see medical marijuana patients and providers rot in a Texas prison rather then released to solve overcrowding. Heartless @#$%**!

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