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False Forbearance Obama Breaks His Promise To Respect Medical Marijuana Laws.


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Jacob Sullum | May 11, 2011

 

 

Two weeks ago, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire vetoed a bill that would have clarified the rules for supplying medical marijuana in her state. She cited an April 14 letter in which Jenny Durkan and Michael Ormsby, the U.S. attorneys for Washington, threatened to prosecute not only growers and providers but also "others who knowingly facilitate" their actions, including landlords, financiers, and even state employees who license and regulate medical marijuana suppliers.

 

U.S. attorneys in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont have sent similar letters in recent months, discouraging some jurisdictions from proceeding with plans to establish licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. These threats, which are backed by the Justice Department, kill any lingering hopes that President Obama would keep his campaign promise to respect the medical marijuana laws that have been enacted in 15 states and the District of Columbia.

 

During his presidential campaign, Obama repeatedly said he would call off the Drug Enforcement Administration's raids on both medical marijuana users and their suppliers. In a March 2008 interview with southern Oregon’s Mail Tribune, he said, "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue." Two weeks after Obama took office, a White House spokesman reiterated that position, saying, "The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws."

 

In October 2009, David Ogden, then the deputy attorney general, sent a memo that seemed to fulfill this promise. "As a general matter," he 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."

 

Yet the DEA's medical marijuana raids not only have continued but are more frequent under Obama than they were under George W. Bush. Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which argues that patients who can benefit from marijuana should be able to obtain it legally, counts well over 100 raids in the two years and four months 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 ASA spokesman Kris Hermes.

 

At first it seemed the DEA was targeting growers and sellers who arguably were not "in clear and unambiguous compliance" with state law, since the rules for supplying medical marijuana were fuzzy in jurisdictions such as California, Colorado, and Montana. But the U.S. attorney letters conclusively show that, contrary to the impression left by the Ogden memo, complying with state law provides no protection against federal prosecution.

 

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler insists there is "no inconsistency" between the recent threats and the Ogden memo, which she says "talks about not investigating sick individuals who might be in compliance with state law." Actually, the memo refers not to "sick individuals" but to "individuals" generally, and it cites as examples not only patients but "caregivers" who supply them with marijuana.

 

In any case, the Justice Department's distinction between patients and suppliers cannot be reconciled with Attorney General Eric Holder's description of the new policy. "The policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law," he said in March 2009. "Our focus will be on people, organizations that are growing, cultivating substantial amounts of marijuana and doing so in a way that's inconsistent with federal and state law."

 

The new gloss on the Ogden memo, notes Hermes, is "exactly the same as what Bush said for years: 'We're not targeting patients.' There is no change."

 

The problem, of course, is that most of the "sick individuals" the Obama administration claims to be sparing are not up to the task of growing their own marijuana. When DEA raids or threats to landlords shut down dispensaries, Hermes notes, "patients wake up the next morning wondering where they're going to find their medication." Obama's position is that patients can have marijuana; they just can't get it anywhere.

 

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist.es.

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Guest Happy Guy

Who else would stop states from making laws that say that a patient can't grow if a dispensary sets up within 25 miles of you? Answer that for me please. Obama saying he would have a 'hands off' approach to medical marijuana where patients were following state law didn't mean that he would ignore it when patients are pillaged financially, and have their grow rights taken away, by the state. Go team Obama.

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Can't trust a politician no matter what they say. When I listened to his pretty words, I was very cautiously optimistic, but barely on the optimism. With all my heart, I wanted to believe him, but I just couldn't totally give in to my skepticism. The words sounded too good to be true. It looked kinda good for awhile, but then- WHACK! False hope struck me hard, and still reigns supreme, the theme of my life. I know I'm not the only one but that's NO comfort! Politics ruins EVERYTHING it touches! I had my fill of it. Thankfully I didn't totally fall for those pretty words. NEVER AGAIN.

 

Sb :(

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How many patients who are clearly and unambiguously following State Law have been arrested and convicted federally in Michigan since Hopey McChange(Obama) has had the Ogden Memo issued?

 

Anyone? A guess?

 

Zero. Yes, zero.

 

 

Does the Ogden memo state that they will still go after commercial operations?

 

Yes.

 

Of course it did.

 

It simply said back off sick people trying to take care of themselves.

 

 

Excerpt:

 

As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources. On the other hand, prosecution of commercial enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana for profit continues to be an enforcement priority of the Department. To be sure, claims of compliance with state or local law may mask operations inconsistent with the terms, conditions, or purposes of those laws, and federal law enforcement should not be deterred by such assertions when otherwise pursuing the Department’s core enforcement priorities.

 

 

People were too lazy to read the memo themselves and simply thought this was a free ride to income, profit and commercial operations. President Obama supports nothing of the sort. If you are growing a few plants for yourself or a sick friend or relative, you will be just fine. If you are growing in a large operation,, growing way more than your patients needs, and selling your overages to people not connected through the department of healths registration process; chances are, you may have some problems. If you open a commercial store, you may get screewed. If you are just a patient, minding your own business, Hopey says hands off, go mess with the greedy buggers.

 

Thanks Mr. President. The only President so far with balls enough to take patients off the battlefield. And you whiney crunts sit here and complain? Shame on all of you.

 

Is his policy perfect? Hell no.

 

But i am hearing people would rather have Bush back?

 

Hahahaha.... OMG.

 

This letter/quote from ASA is simply propaganda for the Dispensaries and Commercialization.

 

All one has to do is interpret and operate CONSERVATIVELY within the law. Perty simple stuff that many don't like to hear.

 

And please don't use the excuse that when the Feds finish with the Dispensaries they will come for patients. They have been coming for patients for about 80 years and for the first time in those 80 years, patients actually have a small umbrella of protection, and now Dispensaries are trying to crowd under and push out the patients from underneath that small umbrella of protection.

 

They can kiss my arse.

 

Go get your own umbrella.

 

:rolleyes:

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hey cherrycrush, What about sick people in fed housing being thrown to the streets? I had hoped it would stop when the feds were told to back off. What about those hiding behind fed law to justify throwing sick people to the streets? Please don't put words in peoples' mouths, I know what the memo says, and I understand it.

 

Sb :(

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hey cherrycrush, What about sick people in fed housing being thrown to the streets? I had hoped it would stop when the feds were told to back off. What about those hiding behind fed law to justify throwing sick people to the streets? Please don't put words in peoples' mouths, I know what the memo says, and I understand it.

 

Sb :(

 

SB just to give yu some hope, remeber the VA has upgraded their Cannabis policy considerably. Remarkably considerate, as these gentle courageous soldiers, past and present, have been victimized throughout their military and civilian lives as Drugs have been used as both bona fide Weapon of War and also to discover their remarkable use as medical tools for ever . Though using it on it's own citizens might be a historic note. There you ha ve it the weapons of Mass Destruction, were eating 'em up ! Any more bright ideaas ?

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Guest finallyfree09

How many patients who are clearly and unambiguously following State Law have been arrested and convicted federally in Michigan since Hopey McChange(Obama) has had the Ogden Memo issued?

 

Anyone? A guess?

 

Zero. Yes, zero.

 

 

Does the Ogden memo state that they will still go after commercial operations?

 

Yes.

 

Of course it did.

 

It simply said back off sick people trying to take care of themselves.

 

 

Excerpt:

 

As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources. On the other hand, prosecution of commercial enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana for profit continues to be an enforcement priority of the Department. To be sure, claims of compliance with state or local law may mask operations inconsistent with the terms, conditions, or purposes of those laws, and federal law enforcement should not be deterred by such assertions when otherwise pursuing the Department’s core enforcement priorities.

 

 

People were too lazy to read the memo themselves and simply thought this was a free ride to income, profit and commercial operations. President Obama supports nothing of the sort. If you are growing a few plants for yourself or a sick friend or relative, you will be just fine. If you are growing in a large operation,, growing way more than your patients needs, and selling your overages to people not connected through the department of healths registration process; chances are, you may have some problems. If you open a commercial store, you may get screewed. If you are just a patient, minding your own business, Hopey says hands off, go mess with the greedy buggers.

 

Thanks Mr. President. The only President so far with balls enough to take patients off the battlefield. And you whiney crunts sit here and complain? Shame on all of you.

 

Is his policy perfect? Hell no.

 

But i am hearing people would rather have Bush back?

 

Hahahaha.... OMG.

 

This letter/quote from ASA is simply propaganda for the Dispensaries and Commercialization.

 

All one has to do is interpret and operate CONSERVATIVELY within the law. Perty simple stuff that many don't like to hear.

 

And please don't use the excuse that when the Feds finish with the Dispensaries they will come for patients. They have been coming for patients for about 80 years and for the first time in those 80 years, patients actually have a small umbrella of protection, and now Dispensaries are trying to crowd under and push out the patients from underneath that small umbrella of protection.

 

They can kiss my arse.

 

Go get your own umbrella.

 

:rolleyes:

:goodjob::goodjob::goodjob:

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Guest Medicinal Patient

"Yet the DEA's medical marijuana raids not only have continued but are more frequent under Obama than they were under George W. Bush."

 

Sigh. I think I need to just go relax an medicate and listen to the show tonight.

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cherrycrush, This may be true what you say, so I wish you would've said it without the insults. People would be more receptive, whether they agree or not, they'd at least listen. If someone tells me I'm wrong, and insults me, I'll close my ears and walk away.You had me interested in your viewpoint, till the name calling came up and I felt insulted. It's clear how you feel about this site, and you have the right to speak your mind, though I just wish you'd do it without talking down to us. What do you do when someone puts you down, even if their information is valid? Seeing an opposing viewpoint, if presented tactfully, makes me think, that's why I read your messages, though many of them have a very unfriendly tone toward us; I try to see what I can learn from what you say. You don't know me well and I don't know you well, either, though you have been kind to me, which I really appreciate, so I'm asking you nicely if you would omit the insults.

 

Sincerely, Sb

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cherrycrush, This may be true what you say, so I wish you would've said it without the insults. People would be more receptive, whether they agree or not, they'd at least listen. If someone tells me I'm wrong, and insults me, I'll close my ears and walk away.You had me interested in your viewpoint, till the name calling came up and I felt insulted. It's clear how you feel about this site, and you have the right to speak your mind, though I just wish you'd do it without talking down to us. What do you do when someone puts you down, even if their information is valid? Seeing an opposing viewpoint, if presented tactfully, makes me think, that's why I read your messages, though many of them have a very unfriendly tone toward us; I try to see what I can learn from what you say. You don't know me well and I don't know you well, either, though you have been kind to me, which I really appreciate, so I'm asking you nicely if you would omit the insults.

 

Sincerely, Sb

 

Heh, SilverBlue !!!!

 

Right on !!!!!!

 

Here is the report card on "Civic Responsibility for Cherry Crush when he graduated so many years ago from Kindergarten:

 

"Does NOT play well with others !"

 

dr. Jinx

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Heh, SilverBlue !!!!

 

Right on !!!!!!

 

Here is the report card on "Civic Responsibility for Cherry Crush when he graduated so many years ago from Kindergarten:

 

"Does NOT play well with others !"

 

dr. Jinx

Perhaps, but we don't need to insult him either. It has to end somewhere. We can insult him all day and he can insult us all day, but what will that accomplish?

 

Sb

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hey cherrycrush, What about sick people in fed housing being thrown to the streets? I had hoped it would stop when the feds were told to back off. What about those hiding behind fed law to justify throwing sick people to the streets? Please don't put words in peoples' mouths, I know what the memo says, and I understand it.

 

Sb :(

 

 

What we need to do is request a new memorandum from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 

Just as we have the "Ogden Memo" from the Department of Justice, there was a "Laster Memo" released back in 1999 by the Department of Housing and Urban Development pertaining to Public Housing and Medical Marihuana.

 

Laster memo: http://cannabispatientsunited.org/documents/hud

 

We need to request this lady, the current General Counsel of HUD, to write a friendlier memo under the slightly softened approach towards cannabis patients in the Obama Administration:

 

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/about/principal_staff/general_counselor_kanovsky

 

She looks somewhat friendly. :-)

 

I am guessing we will get a much nicer memorandum from the Obama Administration than from the Clinton Administration.

 

We can request memorandums through elected officials. We need to get one of our Senators and/or Representatives to request it for us. We have 15 Representatives and 2 Senators. Get to Work!

 

We have the ACLU behind patients as well. They are using even the current "Laster Memo" to defend patients currently. With an Obama Admin memorandum, i can only imagine our defenses and arguments for patients will be much stronger.

 

This is the ACLU letter sent to Chris Legrand, General Counself and Director of Legal Affairs of Michigan State Housing Development Authority, to determine eleigibility of Section 8 Cannabis Patients.

 

http://cannabispatientsunited.org/documents/aclumshda

 

That is something to get behind.

 

We just need to utilize the opportunity we have to get "friendlier" memorandums from the Obama Administration while we can. In a second term the memorandums will only be more liberal. We just need to ask the right questions, at the right time, about the right topics. This one is ripe for a pullback on policy.

 

Like i said, patients have a small umbrella right now. Each new memorandum is another small umbrella. The VA put out a small umbrella for our veterans. It is happening. The ball is rolling, progress is happening. It just takes time, dedication, focus, sensibility and effort to make it happen.

 

Also, i am not frail and silly insults on a forum completely don;t offend me. I have real work to accomplish.

 

 

Lesson 1: Focus

 

 

 

:watching:

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cherrycrush we all have real work to do. We're all on the same side, we all need to help eachother. You have a good idea, I'd like to follow up on that and get active in seeing it through. Despite any differences we all have, we have one common goal, which I believe is to have our law properly implemented as the people voted for it, including all its protections and allowances, so I'm willing to look at the links and see if we could all work together on this. Thank you for your idea.

 

I see a wonderful opportunity for a community project.

 

Sincerely, for our community, Sb

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We know the real answer is to change the laws on the Federal level. Until then, no memorandum will be good enough really. They can only bend the law so much. They are required to interpret current law.

 

Someday we will get some real law reform at the federal level. Maybe 10-20 years we will get medical cannabis accepted at the federal level to at least allow states to govern its legality and availability.(Our current law)

 

Remember it is the Legislature that is really screewing us. Not even ONE single Michigan US Rep or Senator would co-sign the medical marijuana bills. 63% of Michiganders voted for Medical Cannabis and not one single spineless US politician from Michigan would support it Federally. Good ol' Hopey McChange can only do so much. There are other pieces to the puzzle that have to fit to make it happen. When i see extensive postings of "He Good".." He Bad" it comes across as a very narrow caveman myopic view of the situation as it actually exists. The change always comes from below. The Local US representatives. When we get 63% of Michigan Rep's to co sign a bill allowing States Rights to govern medical cannabis, we will have won. Obama would sign such a bill in a heartbeat. Bush would not.

 

Until then,... lets focus and get to work.

 

It don't come easy...

 

 

Edited by CherryCrush
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