Marijuana

Congressmen Ask DOJ Inspector General to Investigate Continued Harassment of Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers

Dana Rohrabacher and Sam Farr want the Justice Department to stop ignoring their rider.

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The omnibus spending bill that Congress approved last December included a rider aimed at preventing the Justice Department from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. The rider, which was introduced by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), tells the DOJ it may not spend money to "prevent" states from "implementing" laws alllowing medical use of cannabis. During the debate that preceded the House vote on the Rohrbacher-Farr amendment, both supporters and opponents agreed that it would block federal prosecution of patients and providers who comply with state law. The DOJ claims otherwise, and yesterday Rohrabacher and Farr tried once again to set the record straight, asking the department's inspector general to investigate the failure to comply with the rider.

Last April a DOJ spokesman, Patrick Rodenbush, told the Los Angeles Times the Rohrbacher-Farr amendment has no bearing on forfeiture actions against dispensaries such as Oakland's Harborside Health Center or the prosecution of people who grow marijuana for their own medical use, such as the Kettle Falls Five in Washington. Rodenbush said the amendment merely stops the Justice Department from "impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws." In a July 30 letter to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Rohrabacher and Farr say "Mr. Rodenbush's interpretation is clearly a stretch," since "the implementation of state law is carried out by individuals and businesses as the state authorizes them to do." They add that the debate over their rider clearly shows the legislators who voted for it (and against it) understood it as protecting people who follow state law from federal harassment.

"Cases such as the Kettle Falls Five case in Washington, asset forfeiture actions against dispensaries in the San Francisco Bay area, or the Lynch case now pending in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, are all instances of DOJ expending dollars it does not have the legal authority to spend," Rohrabacher and Farr write. "Consequently, we believe there is sufficient cause for your office to investigate potential violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act by the Department with regard to its prosecution and other enforcement actions against persons and businesses conducting legitimate medical marijuana activities under state law."

The Anti-Deficiency Act makes it a crime to use federal money for purposes that are not approved by Congress. Lynch involves Charlie Lynch, the owner of a Morro Bay, California, dispensary who was convicted of five federal felonies in 2008 and received a one-year prison sentence in 2009, based on a sympathetic judge's debatable interpretation of the criteria for the "safety valve" that lets certain drug offenders escape mandatory minimum sentences. Prosecutors want the appeals court to overturn that sentence in favor of a five-year term. Lynch remains free on bail as he appeals his conviction, and the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment gave him a new argument.

Meanwhile, Harborside's chief antagonist, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, announced on Wednesday that she will be stepping down as of September 1. Steve DeAngelo, Harborside's executive director, welcomed the news in a statement issued yesterday:

In 2012…Melinda Haag initiated a civil forfeiture action to shutter the doors of Harborside Health Center and others around the state. At the time I vowed that Harborside would never abandon our patients, and we have been battling Ms. Haag in federal court ever since. I always believed Harborside would outlast Ms. Haag, so hearing that she is stepping down gives us great relief and great satisfaction.

In Ms. Haag's parting statement she said she felt her office had "accomplished most of our goals" during her tenure. The one goal she most assuredly has not accomplished is closing down Harborside Health Center. We hope her successor will have a more finely tuned understanding of compassion and justice than Ms. Haag has displayed, and allow Harborside to focus on serving our patients instead of battling a court case that should never have been started."

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22 responses to “Congressmen Ask DOJ Inspector General to Investigate Continued Harassment of Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers

  1. Just impeach them already, for violating the anti-deficiency Act.

    1. It’s not a partisan issue, so maybe they can get the 2/3 of the Senate needed to convict.

      1. At the very least impeach Ms. Piggy – I mean Haag – and if she pre-empts impeachment by resigning* make clear to her successor, “if you do the same thing Haag did, you’ll be impeached too.”

        *Which seems to be allowable in certain cases, thanks to the unfortunate Belknap precedent of the Grant era

        1. You can still arrest her in retirement.

          1. I was thinking of stuff *Congress* could do.

  2. Blah blah blah. Who gives a flying fuck what the law says? Executive branch bureaucrats have full authority to read the law however they want to.

    1. Executive branch bureaucrats have full authority to read the law however they want to.

      6 out of 9 SCOTUS justices agree.

  3. I want arrests.

    1. Kinky!

    2. People in hell want ice water.

      1. Exactly.

  4. U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag

    Never has anyone had a more appropriate name than Ms. Haag. Further proof that we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel.

    1. Her boss, Harold Chickenchoquer, is a real jackoff, too.

      1. And I also hear that Jack Choksondik is real cock sucker.

        1. Isn’t Henri Gobblecocque his admin assistant?

    2. On good days, I think it might be a Neal Stephenson novel.

  5. President Christie laughs at your Federalism.

    BOW TO THE BADGE BOYS!!!!

  6. A good start would be to fire that A-hole US.Attorney Ormsby in Spokane for not dismissing all charges against the Kettle Falls Five.

    1. Amen. Someone should swing for that.

    2. Surprised the DOJ isn’t looking into it since that’s their JOB.

  7. When this government stops states from making illegal laws and putting laws on top of others that have been voted in by the voice of the people, then we will see changes, but until then Washington state will continue to abuse its own state Constitution .

    Many will start suffering next year when illegal prohibitions are levied upon ONLY the medical cannabis community – and we ARE a community of very ill and poor people who just want to be out of pain in what’s left of our lives.

    Registering patients but not recreational users is a travesty of law, but worse is negating a legally, human asked for law that had to go through the petition processes, against one that our State Legislators came up with for whatever purposes they are going to use that illegal database for.

    Our laws, both state and federal, are being abused and those who are doing the illegal acts are in Congresses both state and federal.

    Do they not comprehend that they are building a fire that can only end in a Civil War in the United States?

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