Deciphering the White House jihad against pot

Discussion in 'Marijuana Legalization' started by oltex, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. Deciphering the White House jihad against pot
    CBSNews / Tim Fernholz / 11,09,2011

    File photo of marijuana buds at Med Grow Cannabis College in Southfield, Mich. (Carlos Osorio)

    (The New Republic) When you get a new car, you start noticing the same model all over the highway. It's the same way when you figure out what California's marijuana dispensaries look like--green crosses and signage about "medicine" and "420" start popping up all over the City of Angels: On your commute to work, in your neighborhood, around the corner from your favorite restaurant. To put it bluntly, it's not hard to find weed in California.

    But that all might be about to change. The state's four U.S. Attorneys are gamely trying to alter the broadly popular status quo with arrests and threats of prosecution and property seizure for landlords who rent to dispensaries, a campaign announced in a rare joint press conference in October. Medical marijuana advocates call it an "intense crackdown" and have launched a lawsuit claiming the federal attorneys' tactics violate California's tenth amendment rights (Rick Perry, call your office).

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    Medical marijuana: Which 16 states permit pot?

    State and local officials, meanwhile, are divided in their reactions to the influx of dispensaries in California, but many say that overly eager federal intervention is undermining the state-regulated medical marijuana system that they have taken pains to set up. In other words, as long as the federal crackdown contained itself to targeting egregious offenders of state law, it was hard for anyone to object; many applauded. But by raising the prospect of a federal assault on city mayors and town councils, Obama's Department of Justice could be making more enemies than friends in California. California's marijuana dispensaries got their start in 1996, when voters passed a state referendum making medical marijuana legal. They only truly expanded in 2003, however, when the state legislature laid out a set of rules for non-profit dispensaries to follow. Now there are nearly 2,000 of them across the state, dispensing marijuana to anyone with a prescription from a medical doctor.

    But when a 2005 Supreme Court case reaffirmed the mandate of federal officials to enforce national anti-marijuana rules, that placed California's U.S. Attorneys in a tricky situation. They somehow had to reconcile their mandate to enforce all federal statutes with existing state laws in California that seemed to violate the Controlled Substances Act. In 2007, the Bush administration's U.S. Attorneys responded by launching a campaign similar to the current one. That led to the closure of dozens of dispensaries, but had little lasting impact--today, there are more than two times the number of dispensaries than existed four years ago.

    Even still, the Bush-era campaign left scars on the minds of medical marijuana advocates. Most backed Barack Obama's presidential campaign in hopes that he would shape a more congenial federal environment. Advocates had reason to be optimistic: As a candidate, Obama talked about easing off enforcement on pot offenders and famously told an interviewer that of course he had inhaled--"that was the point." And the initial signs were promising: After Obama took office in 2009, the Department of Justice released the Ogden Memo, which stated, in so many words, that the DOJ should really only be prosecuting marijuana dispensaries that are using or abusing state law to traffic marijuana for a profit, and not waste its time (or tarnish its image) prosecuting cancer patients and their caregivers.

    But prosecutors and advocates both admit that the situation on the ground has changed since the memo's release: As fear of federal prosecution lessened, more states began adopting or considering medical marijuana laws; where the practice was already legal (as it was in California), there was a boom in the marijuana trade. Operating in a grey market between the federal prohibition and untested state rules, dispensaries of all kinds operated without much supervision. Cities and towns, some with an eye toward economic opportunity and others to codify community standards, began filling in the blanks left by the broad state law with rules and ordinances governing the operation of dispensaries and growers--where they could be located, how many would be allowed, what kind of security and verification procedures they must use.

    Though law enforcement officials could not point to any commensurate increase in crime, all that activity made the federal government uneasy: It realized that tacitly allowing states to regulate medical marijuana had far-reaching consequences that it wasn't entirely comfortable with. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney, acknowledged that his office took notice of the explosion of storefront dispensaries across California in the last two years, sometimes in violation of local zoning bans. With local and state officials writing letters to their U.S. Attorneys, asking for their thoughts on various schemes to license marijuana growers and distributers, the federal government decided to take a tougher line. This June, the Department of Justice responded with another memo recognizing this growing trend and clarifying its position, and reclaiming the prerogative to make arrests for any marijuana offenses: "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." Enforcement efforts against dispensaries in California followed soon after.

    California is a diverse state, and some local officials have cheered the greater federal intervention, citing their own frustrated attempts to close dispensaries that were clearly not in compliance with state law. Scott Smith, city attorney for Lake Forest, a town in Orange County, says that after fruitlessly spending $585,000 in legal fees fighting the dozen dispensaries in his town through the zoning board (eight of them in the same strip mall, near a Montessori school), his city contacted the U.S. Attorney for help. Smith points out that none of the dispensaries he challenged in court had even bothered to make the case that they were a non-profit--i.e., in accordance with California law. Others are part of national trafficking operations: The Feds are prosecuting the former owners of a now-defunct Hollywood dispensary for shipping marijuana to New York and Pennsylvania.

    But the U.S. Attorneys' enforcement actions haven't been limited to such egregious state lawbreakers. Indeed, they've sent letters to non-profit cooperatives warning that they could be prosecuted and their property seized. In Mendocino County, DEA agents raided the farm of a grower known for working closely with the local Sheriff to regulate marijuana, down to individually marking each of his plants with a zip-tie to confirm that it was allowed by state law.

    Marijuana advocates are largely skeptical of the Obama administration's intentions, saying that its crackdown is motivated not by a desire to fight criminality, but by a fear that the burgeoning medical marijuana industry was threatening its own authority. "They did not want to see a full blown state-by-state licensing system that would have legalized large-scale distribution of medical marijuana," Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access says. Hermes says that federal agents have even gone so far as to threaten state lawmakers in Montana, Washington, and Arizona with prosecution if they proceed with plans to legalize and regulate medical marijuana in their states.

    "At the end of the day, California law doesn't matter" to the U.S. Attorney, Mrozek counters, but "it is our position the marijuana stores operating in California are not only violating the spirit of California law, but are in fact violating California law." This is where California and Federal officials tend to part ways. State Attorney General Kamala Harris has voiced the concern that "an overly broad federal enforcement campaign will make it more difficult for legitimate patients to access physician-recommended medicine in California."

    Indeed, the irony is that federal intervention may be making it harder for California officials to convince marijuana dispensaries and growers to keep their operations above board and play by the state's rules. And U.S. Attorneys have even informed city officials in the cities of Chico and Sacramento that they could be prosecuted for setting up licensing schemes; similar messages were delivered to state leaders in Washington and Arizona.

    Marijuana advocates appear more concerned about the U.S. Attorneys' attacks on the prerogatives of local government, the most successful venue for their cause, than the new enforcement push. This new development has prompted Americans for Safe Access' tenth amendment lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder, accusing him of unconstitutionally "commandeering" local governments to enforce federal law. They say that the federal government has no business using threats to prevent state and local officials from enforcing state laws around medical marijuana, even if they violate federal statutes.

    Even on the pure practical level of enforcement, meanwhile, advocates argue that Federal involvement might not make the most sense. "Beyond prosecuting a handful of people or threatening a few landlords, it's questionable what the federal government's capacity is," Hermes says. While everyone, including the Feds themselves, acknowledges that the DEA has bigger fish to fry, local authorities have proven capable of taking action to enforce their own regulatory regimes: Just last year, the city of Los Angeles shut down over 400 dispensaries in an effort to regulate and zone them, a move criticized by the caregiver community, but one that brought at least a modicum of order to the city's chaotic pot infrastructure and was even quietly welcomed by some dispensaries.
    Study: Medicinal marijuana doesn't breed pot fiends

    While the legal battles around Los Angeles' ordinance and those in other cities appear never-ending, a local approach could prove more effective than the U.S. Attorneys' heavy-handed enforcement when it comes to smoking out which weed shops are for-profit or front for organized crime: L.A.'s rules, after all, had already managed to close the shop housing the $15 million trafficking operation now being prosecuted by the FBI. But future efforts at the state and local level are unlikely to be successful if officials continue to be threatened with federal prosecution for trying to make their own laws work.

    Bio: Tim Fernholz is an editor at GOOD Magazine in Los Angeles. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

    Don't know why my searches missed this article but it being at CBS News,,it reached a lot of people,,besides us! ;)
  2. Now try and decipher the US Tax Code :p
  3. Lets take baby steps here. First try deciphering out current drug scheduling system.

    To OP - enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing this.
  4. The states can stop accepting Federal funding any time their little hearts desire. No Federal funding, no need to succumb to their/Wall Street's agendas.

  5. not true at all.

    The States can stop accepting funding but that does not mean that the Feds would stop enforcement actions. The Feds get to do what they please when it comes to the "war on drugs". The States must always defer to the Feds. This is just what the Feds are showing (proving) by the enforcement actions they are now taking. Do you for a second think that even if a state decided to refuse all federal funding (medicaid, transportation funds, etc etc) that the Feds wouldn't roll the tanks if said state legalized marijuana against their wishes?

  6. this just about says it all
  7. great read, disgusts me whats happening. hope we can sue our way to legalization.
  8. as long as there is only 2 viable political parties in this country shit ain't gonna change
  9. I have to disagree, given that a great majority of the enforcement actions are perpetuated by STATE police, whose ranks are needlessly swelled due to Federal money upping their ranks. I'm not saying do away with all Federal funding (after all we paid the taxes and should get SOMETHING useful back in return.) I'm specifically saying that doing away with POLICE funding from the Fed level would be a fantastic idea so that the local police are not carrying out FEDERAL agendas.

    Same goes for the education system, where Federal curriculums are followed once again to chase their Fed monopoly money. We need to stop accepting the monopoly money and take back the local police forces and the schools. Too much damage is being done in the name of largely worthless currency. (Not yet, literally, but how much longer can they keep printing it??)

  10. It is true that state enforcement actions can and do perpetuate federal decisions through state and federal "task forces" and other programs. The states desire for the federal funding that is available through their participation is one of many problems citizens face as part of the political process. It is also true that the states can forgo these agreements and the money. However, The states cannot keep the feds from operating in their territory nor impede the feds actions. Just think back to the civil rights actions taken in the 60's. Court rulings have already given primacy to the feds.

    Lets assume for a moment that a state, say California, decided to legalize marijuana and to forgo any and all monies from the feds, police funding, transportation funds, education funds, the works. The feds would still carry out enforcement actions and state agencies would not be able to interfere. If in fact if the state did interfere it would be tantamount to starting the Civil War again. The tanks would surely roll.
  11. The Obama administration is either lying, or they are truly stupid people. What did they think would happen after the release of the 'Ogden Memo'?

    Did they think the Medical Marijuana industry would shrink?

    Of course it was going to expand with the release of the memo...

    2012 can't come fast enough, for me any administration is better than the current one.
  12. They used the term jihad?!

    HELL YEA! :hello:
  13. [ame=]Marijuana Debate - Ron Paul vs Barack Obama - YouTube[/ame]


  14. very true, the phoney money should be drying up real soon when the state debt bubble blows and the printing press has made the dollar worth a penny, none of these laws will mean anything.

  15. ah come on Al, you should know that even a broke government with guns and prisons can and will do as it pleases. we are not as broke as you think, we just sent a ton of cash to Thailand for flood relief. the US has huge reserves, we are not even close to a default. even when the dollar is a penny as you predict, the Feds will just "work" for less. I got a feeling that I will be able to continue on as a drug criminal for quite some time....guess its better than getting a job:eek:

  16. I think you're underestimating our current predicament. The only reason we are not Greece right now is because we can print money backed by nothing. When that ends, and it will, then what we will see is total chaos. when banks have no money left for the people and there isn't enough gold to spread around. Suddenly everything you see as normal is gone and trust me the last thing any government employee will want to do is try to enforce victimless meaningless laws.

    When we the people have little left to loose our current government will be completely overhauled and many who have robbed us and corruptly beaten us down, will be hiding. Many will be prosecuted for treason and crimes against the people, it will be a mess, but a mess that will be worthwhile.

    We will see a revolution and you can see it building in the division of the people we see now. Our government has been very bad and when all the sleeping people wake up and see for themselves, it's gonna get crazy and fast. Most of our law enforcement and government officials are cowards and will run if given the chance. Our military may be split but at least half will side with the people and that will be the deciding factor in forming a new government that will never again sell us out.

    Just look at what China does to corrupt business men who steal millions from people, death penalty. What do we do here currently? We give them bonuses, how long do you think that will last? I tell ya when the sleeping dragon wakes up, there's gonna be he'll to pay.
  17. Al mi amigo,

    China only kills the corrupt players that don't have political swipe at the moment or who's "crimes" somehow cannot be covered up.

    And yes most of our elected servants (what a misnomer that is eh) are cowards, but it's the cowards that are the most dangerous and stubborn. I would love to see those who give us crumbs of bread (let them eat cake comes to mind) heads roll, heck I have my own list of those deserving the hangmans noose as you must also have, but the truth is we are not at all like Greece. Look, Corporations have access to money through the banks we all bailed out at near the lowest rates ever, mergers have been on the rise and business as usual is going on. Whats going to happen is that State and local governments and programs for the "people" will be wiped out so the 1% can keep it's place in society. Both Parties are spewing the same bs about how "we all" (meaning the 99%) need to tighten our belts. ie; the super rich shall not be taxed. Take a close look at what is happening with the Occupy movement. The police actions against our right to assemble and the medias collusion in trying to show occupy as malcontents (with the sole exception of the Free Speech Network from Democracy Now). So the attack on our freedoms and our value to those in power is not going to change until citizens treat this government and the 1% in the same manner the police around the country are treating the citizens of Occupy ie; with violence, as both of the countries political parties seem bent on protecting the current system of who gets cake and who gets crumbs.

  18. you're right all those things are happening and will continue to until enough wake up and say enough is enough.

    business as usual is disintegrating at a high rate of speed and it doesn't really matter what the elite want, what matters is what the people want when push comes to shove and it will.

    you can only kick the can down the road so long and then the road ends brutha. ;)
  19. #19 wataytay69, Nov 19, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2011
    Violence is not the answer. Violence begets violence. Instead sign as many petitions as you can. Educate friends and family that are brainwashed about grass. Let them know the history that was left out of our history books. Write your congressmen. Donate to Norml, ASA, non profits, lobbyists, etc. Talk to your neighbor and your coworkers. And most of all VOTE! And then hold your representives responsible.

    I just don't think violence is the answer and will only set any movement back. It alienates and derails future support.

    Peaceful protest and patience are keys. Thats what our herb is for isn't it!

    Ron Paul 2012!

  20. i tend to agree about violence but i must say our gov problems go far deeper and far worse than cannabis prohibition, which is just a symptom in the mix. when a large percentage of citizens wake and realize how fucked we have been by our gov, i'm afraid there will be little stopping them from violence.

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