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Thread: Attorney Breaks Silence On Medical-Marijuana Battle

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    Attorney Breaks Silence On Medical-Marijuana Battle

    Medical-cannabis patients and providers should expect ongoing persecution in California. However, media backlash due to the nearly half-year-old federal crackdown is affecting at least one prominent drug warrior: United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California Benjamin Wagner.

    Wagner broke the Department of Justice’s near silence with regard to the crackdown during a candid, hour-long talk and question-and-answer session last Tuesday at a Sacramento Press Club luncheon. The $30-a-plate affair took place on the 15th floor of 1201 K Street, and inside, Wagner admitted that the cannabis cleanup was the idea of the four U.S. Attorneys in California, not Washington, D.C.

    The four were upset because of what Wagner called “flagrant” marijuana sales in the state. So they declared war on medical marijuana last October, sending out hundreds of forfeiture-warning letters to dispensaries across California. His office is in the process of seizing at least one dispensary in Sacramento, while officials have closed more or less every dispensary in Sacramento County.

    He reiterated that they’re not going after patients and caregivers, rather interstate transporters, huge pot farmers and illicit dispensaries grossing tens of thousands of dollars per day in cash.

    But the media critique of the war is wearing on Wagner, it seems. He said he counts on good press to create a “deterrent effect” in regard to cases of mortgage fraud, child exploitation, human trafficking and major gang violence. But he’s not getting any of that.

    “I think that the members of the press would be forgiven for thinking that marijuana enforcement is all that we do,” he said. “It is far from the most important thing that we do. I have many other higher priorities that have a much bigger impact on public safety. I did not seek the position of U.S. attorney in order to launch a campaign against medical marijuana.”

    Wagner was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 and has been with the DOJ since 1992, primarily in the Eastern District. When he and the other three U.S. attorneys took office at the end of 2009, “We found that we were in the middle of an explosion of marijuana cultivation and sales,” he said.

    Federal policy didn’t change, rather “what we saw … was an unregulated free-for-all in California in which huge amounts of money was being made selling marijuana … to virtually anybody who wanted to get stoned.”

    Wagner said that’s not what California voters approved. Stores marking up pot 200 percent is “not about sick people. That’s about money.”

    His reaction has been “quite measured,” he said. Most dispensaries just got warning letters.

    “In a few instances, after ample warnings, we’ve brought civil-enforcement actions while reserving criminal prosecution for the most flagrant violators of not only federal law but state law,” he said.

    He referred to cases such as one where seven Roseville and Fresno suspects were indicted in February for growing pot with doctor’s recommendations and running a dispensary as a front to traffic it to seven states in the Midwest and South.

    Wagner also warned that a season of raids in the Central Valley is coming in 2012, and that mega pot farmers are on notice that if they plant again this year, their land could be seized.

    He tried to make the case that pot is just a fraction of what his office does, referring to 61 indictments on mortgage fraud last fiscal year.

    During audience questions, activists asked why the federal government says marijuana has “no medical use,” yet the United States has patented its ingredient, cannabidiol, for treating strokes.

    “What I know about marijuana as medicine you can probably put in a thimble,” he said.

    But health policy is not his job, he said. “My advice to you is to write your congressman.”

    Sacramento lawyer Alan Donato asked for guidelines for local dispensaries to avoid federal attention.

    “I’m not in a position to be of much comfort,” Wagner said. “You don’t ask the CHP, ‘How many miles over the speed limit can I go before you pull me over?'”

    Stephen Downing, a retired Los Angeles Police Department deputy chief and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, asked if the failed drug war would ever make Wagner say “Enough is enough” to his boss, Attorney General Eric Holder.

    “That’s hard to say,” Wagner said. “I totally understand the debate over legalization as opposed to criminalizing narcotics.

    “It really depends on what the cost-benefits are. Marijuana is obviously not nearly as destructive as [methamphetamine]. The risks in legalizing marijuana may be significantly less that meth.”

    But prescription drugs “are the biggest, worst drug problem in terms of trends … [and] that’s a legal drug.”

    SN&R news intern Matthew W. Urner got the biggest attention of the lunch, asking Wagner if he ever tried the second-most-commonly used mind-altering substance in America, and if so, what he thought.

    “Uh,” said Wagner, “I’ll say that I went to college.”


    News Hawk - 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
    Location: California
    Source: Newsreview.com.
    Author: David Downs
    Contact: www.newsreview.com/sacramento/contact-us
    Copyright: ©2012 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.
    Website: www.newsreview.com
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    Re: Attorney Breaks Silence On Medical-Marijuana Battle

    Quote Originally Posted by 420 Warrior View Post
    SN&R news intern Matthew W. Urner got the biggest attention of the lunch, asking Wagner if he ever tried the second-most-commonly used mind-altering substance in America, and if so, what he thought.

    “Uh,” said Wagner, “I’ll say that I went to college.”
    This made me laugh.

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    Re: Attorney Breaks Silence On Medical-Marijuana Battle

    And people wonder why the prices are up. First you have to pay taxes to the governement which their is no deductions, then taxes to CA. Then pay your emplyee's, then make sure you have the largest deffence fund you can have... then if anything is left... you use to further your investment, pay yourself and then maybe give to other nonprofit organizations. Sorry but the only one making a killing with MMJ is the corner Drug dealer, the fed and LE. Yet people want these crooks to regulate it like wine...LOL. That can never be until it is decriminalized and rescheduled,
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    Re: Attorney Breaks Silence On Medical-Marijuana Battle

    Quote Originally Posted by GanjaAL2 View Post
    And people wonder why the prices are up. First you have to pay taxes to the governement which their is no deductions, then taxes to CA. Then pay your emplyee's, then make sure you have the largest deffence fund you can have... then if anything is left... you use to further your investment, pay yourself and then maybe give to other nonprofit organizations. Sorry but the only one making a killing with MMJ is the corner Drug dealer, the fed and LE. Yet people want these crooks to regulate it like wine...LOL. That can never be until it is decriminalized and rescheduled,
    That's why we need to focus on the federal level, instead of always state by state laws.

    We need to push for a country wide vote to reschedule "Cannabis for adult use" because, as you can see, the feds just keep on trying to trump state's rights!

    I say, we ALL stand together and fight the feds on this issue!
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    Re: Attorney Breaks Silence On Medical-Marijuana Battle

    Best and most cost effective alternative... DECRIMINALIZATION. That will fix overcrowded prisons but then you take money from the real criminals the Feds and LE as the easy money will disapear as they will have to raid real criminals with guns who shoot back instead of going after sick people and shooting their animals.

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    Re: Attorney Breaks Silence On Medical-Marijuana Battle

    Quote Originally Posted by GanjaAL2 View Post
    Best and most cost effective alternative... DECRIMINALIZATION. That will fix overcrowded prisons but then you take money from the real criminals the Feds and LE as the easy money will disapear as they will have to raid real criminals with guns who shoot back instead of going after sick people and shooting their animals.
    How ever we slice it, or by whatever name it's called, I want to be free to grow Cannabis for my own personal (adult) use and/or go into a store and buy a pack of "GDP" and/or "OG Kush" blunts, if that's what fancies me at the time?!

    I long for the day that I can feel just as at ease and fearless in public with Cannabis, as I potentially can now with tobacco and/or alcohol! That's my dream and my mission, because, that's the way it should be...Period!

    The opposition just keeps clouding the issue with more and more smoke and mirrors, with all these different rules and regulations, bills and amendments and all these other roadblocks they just keep throwing up all over the place!

    They are making the most simplest thing in the word, just as complicated as they can possibly make it...Why? One word....GREED!
    Last edited by 420 Warrior; 03-21-2012 at 02:51 PM.
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