The Department of Justice is tasked with enforcing federal laws in all states. They’re the dudes responsible for interfering with state medical cannabis laws and according to Deputy Attorney General James Cole, that shit ain’t gonna stop anytime soon because it’s open season on medical marijuana dispensaries!
Recently, Cole issued a memo to remind everyone that “the enforcement of the CSA (the Controlled Substance Act) has long been and remains a core priority” of the DOJ. The alarming memo is allegedly a response to a growing number of inquiries from State and local governments seeking guidance on enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that ignore them, especially in jurisdictions that have “enacted legislation to authorize multiple large-scale, privately-operated industrial marijuana cultivation centers,” as the memo states.
This memo, now being called “Cole’s memo” was preceded by the so-called “Ogden memo“. You remember the Ogden memo, right? Okay, back in October 2009 then deputy attorney general, David Ogden, issued a memo that told U.S. attorneys, they “should not focus federal resources” on “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” The memo made it appear President Obama was dialing back the war on drugs, but it didn’t really deter the DEA and U.S. Attorneys office from raiding and prosecuting state-legal grow operations and marijuana dispensaries. In fact, according to Americans for Safe Acess spokesman Kris Hermes the DEA’s medical marijuana raids have not only continued they’re more frequent now with the Obama Administration than they were under George W. Bush! Americans for Safe Access, counts well over 100 raids since Obama’s inauguration, compared to about 200 during Bush’s eight years in office. “The Obama administration really is being more aggressive than the administration of his predecessor,” says Hermes.
Anyhow, the new memo which claims marijuana policy remains unchanged seems to instruct the head of the DEA and leading officials in the U.S. Attorneys Office to treat medical marijuana dispensaries as top priorities for prosecution and investigation. “Persons who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law…such persons are subject to federal enforcement action, including potential prosecution. State laws or local ordinances are not a defense to civil or criminal enforcement of federal law with respect to such conduct, including enforcement of the CSA.”
Steve DeAngelo, director of the Harborside Health Center, California’s largest medical marijuana provider (pictured below holding our STICKER), thought the memo was threatening. He told the Miami Herald he felt President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are turning their backs on medical users and imperiling the distribution of marijuana as medicine.
“I can’t imagine why the Obama administration wants patients to obtain their medicine from a criminal market rather from a licensed and regulated system of distribution,” said DeAngelo, whose Oakland dispensary has 50,000 clients and handles more than $22 million in annual transactions. “I just can’t imagine them following through on their position,” he continued.
It seems like this new memo is a backlash against cities and pot entrepreneurs trying to cash in on the whole burgeoning marijuana boom. One such city is Oakland who stubbornly plans to still move forward with plans to tax and regulate large-scale industrial marijuana grows, despite these threatening memos.
While the government targets pot profiteers and the marijuana community remains on red alert for raids and continued persecution…the problem, of course, remains that patients are caught in the middle and without their medicine. Since many marijuana patients can’t grow their own, are too sick, or simply don’t have the resources…without the help of a dispensary, they go without. This new memo again reinforces the intent of the Federal Government to interfere with state medical cannabis laws which inevitably will mean many people that need marijuana will go without it. And, going without seems to echo the Federal Government’s true position on medical marijuana; patients can have marijuana, they just can’t get it anywhere.
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