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Marijuana Memo is Stark Reminder: Law is Unchanged

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Redding, CA--Career lawmen and pot smokers don't normally pal around, but Redding Police Chief Peter Hansen has a surprisingly positive attitude toward the city's medical-marijuana collectives.

Nearly 20 co-ops operate under a city regulatory scheme that he oversees. And the chief publicly says they're mainly good businesses whose owners are trying to comply with the law.

And yet outlaws they remain.

A new U.S. Justice Department memo sent out last week was a stark reminder that, despite the industry's veneer of normality and even respectability – city licenses, full-color advertisements, Chamber of Commerce memberships — it remains very much at odds with federal law. A task force of drug agents could arrive tomorrow and put everyone involved in cuffs — and everyone involved might include not just collectives' managers and growers, but potentially even city officials.

Following up on a 2009 Justice Department memo that essentially said federal resources wouldn't be used to prosecute medical-marijuana users in compliance with state law, the new memo from Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole points to the explosion in open growing and sales of marijuana in the past two years. It adds that various cities have considered permitting "large-scale, privately operated industrial marijuana cultivation centers." Among those are notorious proposals that had city politicians' support in Oakland and the small Sacramento-area town of Isleton, but it could easily apply to Redding, whose zoning allows collectives to operate indoor nurseries in industrial districts.

The memo says growers or dealers of marijuana – medical or not – could face prosecution. So, it adds, could "those who knowingly facilitate such activities." Would that include the city's planners and police chief? As far as federal law is concerned, they're as good as in business with drug dealers.

It's hard to imagine DEA agents kicking down the doors of City Hall. Even so, it's a pointed reminder that even scrupulously trying to follow the law – as Hansen and other city officials have – can leave you leave you on the wrong side of the Controlled Substances Act.


News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
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Website: Editorial: Marijuana memo is stark reminder: Law is unchanged
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