California vs. The Feds: Obama's DOJ Cracks Down on Medical Marijuana


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The federal government is in the midst of a crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries across the state of California.

This is despite repeated claims from President Obama and his Department of Justice that they would not devote federal resources to circumventing state medical marijuana laws.

"The law has been hijacked by profiteers who are motivated not by compassion, but by money," said Melinda Haag, one of California's U.S. Attorneys, at a DOJ press conference on October 11, 2011.

Aaron Sandusky, owner of G3 Holistic, a group of medical marijuana dispensaries in California's Inland Empire, is one such target of the DOJ's crackdown on medical marijuana "profiteers." The DOJ sent him a letter promising to shut down his operations within 14 days. And they followed through. talked to Sandusky, who's long battled the city of Upland's sordid handling of medical marijuana dispensaries, before and after he was raided.

"We all want the same thing," said Sandusky. "We want to see less crime. That's why we have these places."

Sgt. Glenn Walsh and Agent Mark Brewster, both members of the California Narcotic Officer's Association, believe that the stepped up enforcement from the DOJ is a positive development.

"There's no avenue in the law, whatsoever, to accommodate the sales of marijuana," Brewster said.

Walsh concurs, arguing that California's Prop 215 and SB 420 allow for the collective cultivation of medical marijuana but do not allow for a single cent to exchange hands during that process.

"If it's my land, and I want to help you cultivate marijuana [on it], I can do that," said Walsh. "You cannot, however, reimburse me for any expenses."

The prospect of cultivating and distributing a legal product to a large demand base without any money changing hands seems far-fetched to medical marijuana growers and sellers like Sandusky, who himself invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of his life in a grower's facility before it was raided and destroyed in early November.

"They seized all of our assets, all of my personal assets," said Sandusky. "I have sixty dollars in my pocket. That's it."

The DOJ has issued threatening letters to dozens of dispensaries across the state and plans to continue shutting them down one by one. While some in the government work to shield Obama from criticism on the issue, the President has so far remained curiously silent on the crackdowns.

About 10 minutes, 30 seconds. Written and Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Associate Producer is Tracy Oppenheimer. Shot by Paul Detrick, Oppenheimer, and Weissmueller.

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