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New Federal Crackdown Confounds States That Allow Medical Marijuana

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SEATTLE – Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but that has not stopped a fuzzy industry of marijuana farms and dispensaries from rising to serve the 15 states that allow the drug to be used for medical purposes. Under President Obama, the federal government had seemed to make a point of paying little attention – until now.

As some states seek to increase regulation but also further protect and institutionalize medical marijuana, federal prosecutors are suddenly asserting themselves, authorizing raids and sending strongly worded letters that have cast new uncertainty on an issue that has long brimmed with tension between federal and state law.

How can a drug that federal drug law says is criminal be considered medicine under state law?

"It's weird," said Kevin Griffin, co-founder of West Coast Wellness, a medical marijuana dispensary that opened here in February. "We're not a pharmacy. We spent a lot of time gathering information, and this is what we came up with as the most responsible, legal way."

Posters featuring Pink Floyd and Tupac Shakur lined the white walls of the office, in the back of a bland building just inside Seattle's northern boundary. Glass pipes decorated a shelf. And then there was the medicine, available by "donation only," which included less expensive "medibles" like lollipops and "pot" pies and the traditional smoked dosages at about $280 an ounce. Questions? Just ask the "budtender" – while you still can.

"I'm worried," Mr. Griffin said. "We might lose something we put a lot of money into."

West Coast Wellness, one of scores of new dispensaries in the state, opened just as Washington appeared ready to approve one of the nation's most expansive medical marijuana policies, broadening its original 1998 law to include licensing growers and dispensaries. The Legislature passed the measure last month. Yet while Gov. Christine Gregoire had initially expressed support, she instead vetoed most of the bill, specifically citing new concerns about federal opposition.

"The landscape has changed," said the governor, a Democrat.

Letters so far have gone out to governors in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, prompting some states – including Rhode Island and Montana, in addition to Washington – to revise or back away from plans to make the medical marijuana industry more mainstream.

In Washington, Ms. Gregoire asked for guidance from the state's two United States attorneys, Mike Ormsby and Jenny Durkan. In a reply to the governor last month, they said the federal government would prosecute "vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law."

The changes have angered supporters of medical marijuana, who say the federal government is sending mixed signals, even as they argue that it has not technically changed its position.

"How they're obviously coming across is saber rattling," said Alison Holcomb, director of drug policy for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington. "If there has been a shift, then somebody needs to own up to that. We have a very clear memo from 2009."

In October 2009, the Justice Department said in a memorandum drafted by David W. Ogden, then the deputy attorney general, that it would not focus on "individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana."

The memo did not allow farms and dispensaries or the buying and selling of marijuana. In many states that allow medical marijuana, state law does not specify that dispensaries are also legal. The Washington State Department of Health's Web site specifically says that dispensaries are illegal, as is buying and selling marijuana. It says that people who qualify for medical marijuana are allowed to grow their own.

Yet with some states and even the federal government appearing to look the other way, farming collectives and dispensaries flourished. And law enforcement officials at various levels took notice. In Spokane, Wash., federal agents recently conducted searches of seven dispensaries, though no one was arrested.

"There didn't seem to be a recognition that the use and sale of marijuana is against federal law," said Mr. Ormsby, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

When the Legislature was drafting the bill it passed in its most recent regular session, Mr. Ormsby said, "No one consulted with me about what I thought of what they were going to do and did I think it ran afoul of federal law."

Of the state's current medical marijuana law, he added, "We believe, of course, under federal law no part of the state law is legal."

Mr. Ormsby and other prosecutors say they agree that the federal position has not changed, and they say they have been given no new directive from the Justice Department (Mr. Ormsby's and Ms. Durkan's letter to Ms. Gregoire said they had "consulted with the attorney general," Eric H. Holder Jr.).

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Jessica Smith, said: "This is not a change in policy. It's a reiteration of the guidance that was handed down in 2009 by the deputy attorney general."

Ms. Smith noted that the 2009 memo "says definitively that distribution continues to be a federal offense."

Some federal prosecutors say states have simply let medical marijuana get out of hand. Many supporters of medical marijuana agree.

"Seeing storefront dispensaries advertise with neon pot leaves is inconsistent with the idea most people have of medical marijuana," said Ms. Holcomb, of the A.C.L.U. "But until you let states regulate these dispensaries, you have no way to control that."

Some people on each side say the issue could quickly be solved if the federal government reclassified marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug, a category that includes heroin, to a Schedule 2 drug, which includes medicines that can be prescribed.

"I think the onus is on the federal government," said State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a Democrat from Seattle who sponsored the bill that Ms. Gregoire vetoed. "Whether the Obama administration is signaling that it's going to be more aggressive or back off from what's in that Ogden memo, I don't know."

Noting that Ms. Gregoire cited concerns that state employees could face legal action for licensing growers and dispensaries, and that prosecutors had insisted that state employees "would not be immune" from prosecution, Ms. Kohl-Welles said: "I keep trying to visualize federal agents going into a state building, the Department of Health, and hauling people off."

She continued, "I can't conceptualize that."


News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: nytimes.com
Author: William Yardley
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: The New York Times Company
Website: New Federal Crackdown Confounds States That Allow Medical Marijuana
 

medme

New Member
i wish this would hurry and be settled,,, reading this stuff is getting old, but then i guy wants to know, so ya have to read it... do we need a new governor or a new president or some kind of NATION WIDE rebellion or what..... i hope "some day" gets here soon!
 

BootUmAll

Active Member
:wood:Its all about control. The government is a necessary evil, emphasis "evil". The less of it we have the better. Unfortunately a segment of the population has opted to make more government the order of the day. Those that opt for this position are, more often than not, those that benefit from governmental entitlements. The problem here is, the party that is supposed to be "liberal" and currently in charge of the justice dept. (that's Just Us) refuses to prosecute the "New Black Panthers" but now formulates a plan to instill uncertainty and "fear" on "WE the People" by their issuing of press statements and inferences that, "we will only target the capitalists, those that endeavor to profit. In the words of the immortal Ronald Wilson Reagan. "If it moves, taxi it, if it stops moving subsidize it, if it keeps moving, regulate it." (or arrest everyone involved) That's a paraphrase, even though its in Quotes. There is no current politician that more represents a more libertarian position than Cong. Ron Paul. A card carrying member of the Tea Party.:lot-o-toke:
 

TrlrTrshLt420

New Member
This is STILL just as stupid as it ever was.
I think the whole thing could be fixed if we just banned polititions from politics. Hopefully soon I will have enough time for a proper rant. I am glad to be part of this forum, y'all keep up the good fight!! PEACE Russell Coe from Trailer Trash Lot 420
 

Captain Kronic

Member of the Month: July 2011
I actually agree w/the Govs position in a couple of ways.
What I mean is, it's a joke right now w/the way many of us are treating "medical marijuana"... many many many people are abusing the hell out of the right to grow their own meds. The Gov is not going to let this go on and quite frankly... some of it is WAY OUT OF CONTROL... it's a joke!!!
You think the public is gonna look and see:
"Posters featuring Pink Floyd and Tupac Shakur lined the white walls of the office, in the back of a bland building just inside Seattle’s northern boundary. Glass pipes decorated a shelf"
WTF people... does that convey a typical medical atmosphere? HELL NO it does not... not even to me and I like both of those artists. But I am not "Joe Public"... the overall public perception is going to be that we are using these laws to get high and party.... not much more!

My point is, if we are going to go ahead w/this as a "medicinal herb" it needs to be treated as such... OR WE WILL LOSE... the world is watching... public opinion in the voter booth is EVERYTHING!

Mark my words... the Feds have been letting this happen because (IMO) they are coming up w/a way to control it... like alcohol in Oregon... all Gov owned and run!

If the people who represent us in the public eye (that does include you and I) are dispensing "medical mj" they need to think about not looking like a kids bedroom w/posters of gangsters and Pink Floyd!

The way I've been seeing it... for our own sakes... if we don't take care of business like a business... the Feds will... I GUARANTEE IT!

Bless this site and all people who represent the medical community righteously!
 

Captain Kronic

Member of the Month: July 2011
Personally, I started boycotting the the pharm industry last year when I got my MMJ card. I have been on maintenance pain meds for years now which at a couple of points got out of hand (addictive personality)
After much sweat, anxiety and pain, I am almost pill free for the first time since I can remember... W00T for me!

If it weren't for MMJ, I would surely have died sooner than not... Mary saved my life!

I can't believe that in places like the State of Florida for instance, 1 in 7 deaths is prescription drug related... IT'S TIME TO STOP THE INSANITY!

Maybe we do need to start some kind of RECOGNIZED/ORGANIZED total boycott of all pharmacies.
Maybe too we should boycott the MMJ dispensaries who conduct themselves more like a club house than a medicinal outlet... some are very obviously not there for anything more than a quick buck!
 

Siscokid

Member of the Month: Feb 2012
"Medical Marijuana" is a sham IMHO, we should be fighting for our basic rights to do what we want with our body. Cannabis and Hemp needs to be shared with everyone.
 

Captain Kronic

Member of the Month: July 2011
MMJ is no freakin sham to me... like I said, it is saving my life!
Call it a joke if you want to but, this sham as you call it, has made life better for numerous peeps across the globe.
I'm not sayiing that people should not have the right to smoke it but...
WHERE WOULD WE BE NOW IF NOT FOR MMJ LAWS... HIDING... SAME AS ALWAYS!

Besides... you give others too much power... you can damned well do what you want w/your body... :/

IMNSHO :peace2:
 

G-Dog

New Member
In regard to state's rights, the democratic party believes in:

1. A Strong Central Government. They want a big bureaucratic monster of a government that is the voice of the whole country. You have Nancy Pelosi wanting to use energy controls that are in place in California. Christine Gregoire is a democrat, an Obama stooge, and a believer in socialism and bureaucracy.
2. Controls over people. You have democrats that want to restrict every thing you do via empires that are funded by tax dollars and fees. You cannot re-roof your own house without a permit because of controls like these. They are protecting us from ourselves because we are too stupid to make these decisions on our own.

Christine Gregoire is a typical Washington democrat. She is a local guardian of Federal policy, providing the executive branch is of the democratic party. She is a huge proponent of getting Obama reelected because she herself is a lame duck. This lousy bitch cheated to get in office the first time, and manage to win a second term because the state of Washington is mostly a bunch of blind fools that believe the democrat party is for the people. A lie that if you say enough times you may even believe it yourself.
 

Siscokid

Member of the Month: Feb 2012
MMJ is no freakin sham to me... like I said, it is saving my life!
Call it a joke if you want to but, this sham as you call it, has made life better for numerous peeps across the globe.
I'm not sayiing that people should not have the right to smoke it but...
WHERE WOULD WE BE NOW IF NOT FOR MMJ LAWS... HIDING... SAME AS ALWAYS!

Besides... you give others too much power... you can damned well do what you want w/your body... :/

IMNSHO :peace2:
We all know that it has it's medicinal properties, I think it's a joke that people are feeling free cause they are sick, but can smoke pot...

What about the spirituality of getting high? Do I have to keep myself hidden because I love to get closer to my God? Or if I needed a sleeping aid? How about when my wife gets her monthly visit from flow? We need to help those that are dying but they could also be part of the package, no discrimination.

We put our foot in the door with MMJ but it's just not the goal I was shooting for. You can't fight big pharma by boycotting once a month, you need to get the "Medical" term out and just call it what it is.. Cannabis, weed, Marijuana.
 

420 News

New Member
It seems to me that too many people in this country are just complacent. That is a real issue. We are content to sit back, watch our TV, smoke our bong rips or eat our brownies, and say "it's ok, I'm still free and not in jail". Complacent means content in the face of danger. Well, we are all in danger, even those states with mmj laws.
What I want to do, and this will never happen, so call it a pipe dream, is to get every single person that smokes cannabis or uses it for medicine or anything, even those that don't smoke but are for it, to go to WA. DC and line up at the white house, and not fracking leave until it's legal!
Imagine 6 or 8 or 10 million people standing strong for the cause at the WH? Think they might get the message? Open rebellion is about the only thing I see that is going to stop the insanity any time in the near future. Otherwise, I am going to be 60 before Cannabis is legal. I would hitch hike to a rally like that if I had to. I mean, come on. People are getting killed left and right, thrown in prison, having their kids taken away from them, all for a PLANT. This sounds more like the Dark Ages than the 21st century.
I hope that one of the states with bills that allow paid care centers just passes it, and hopefully the domino theory will take affect.
:peace2:
 

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
....This sounds more like the Dark Ages than the 21st century.....
Cannabis use was not a problem in the dark ages

Well, maybe if a woman was using it as medicine to treat people and got labeled a witch :hmmmm: maybe your right.
 

G-Dog

New Member
I am off-topic?


People keep asking the same questions over and over again and I am providing answers. The answer to the question is not whether marijuana is more beneficial than pharmacy drugs, which we all seem to agree. The answer is the elected officials we trust to make and enforce policy.
 

Siscokid

Member of the Month: Feb 2012
It seems to me that too many people in this country are just complacent. That is a real issue. We are content to sit back, watch our TV, smoke our bong rips or eat our brownies, and say "it's ok, I'm still free and not in jail". Complacent means content in the face of danger. Well, we are all in danger, even those states with mmj laws.
What I want to do, and this will never happen, so call it a pipe dream, is to get every single person that smokes cannabis or uses it for medicine or anything, even those that don't smoke but are for it, to go to WA. DC and line up at the white house, and not fracking leave until it's legal!
Imagine 6 or 8 or 10 million people standing strong for the cause at the WH? Think they might get the message? Open rebellion is about the only thing I see that is going to stop the insanity any time in the near future. Otherwise, I am going to be 60 before Cannabis is legal. I would hitch hike to a rally like that if I had to. I mean, come on. People are getting killed left and right, thrown in prison, having their kids taken away from them, all for a PLANT. This sounds more like the Dark Ages than the 21st century.
I hope that one of the states with bills that allow paid care centers just passes it, and hopefully the domino theory will take affect.
:peace2:
I'd be one of those to join you :thumb:
 

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
I am off-topic?
When I look at posts I not only need to consider that post, but also the replies it might generate. I understand how your post is on topic but it would make it more clear if you included Cannabis in your post. You'll notice I didn't remove your post, just used a smiley. It was more a friendly message to any who might reply than it was to you.
:48:
 

GanjaAL2

New Member
Following the play book play by play and the war on drugs rages on for big pharma with their henchmen known as the DEA. Play by the rules kiddy as everyones so called savior Obama is showing his true colors. It was all about getting elected not keeping to his word.

Man oh man what a shit storm that would have came had prop 19 came about. Everyone thought I was fucking crazy when I told everyone it would land people in jail.

You want freedom for marijuana... push for MMJ in every state and laws to hold elected officials liable and accountable for violation of laws voted in by the people. Then and only then can you loosen the grasp of the Federal government on freedom in this country.
 
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