Michael Komorn Posted May 17, 2011 Report Share Posted May 17, 2011 False Forbearance: Obama breaks his promise to respectmedical marijuana laws BY JACOB SULLUM – Two weeks ago, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire vetoeda bill that would have clarified the rules for supplying medical marijuana inher state. She cited an April 14 letter in which JennyDurkan and Michael Ormsby, the U.S. attorneys for Washington, threatened toprosecute not only growers and providers but also “others who knowinglyfacilitate” their actions, including landlords, financiers, and even stateemployees who license and regulate medical marijuana suppliers. U.S. attorneys in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, RhodeIsland, and Vermont have sent similar letters inrecent months, discouragingsome jurisdictions from proceeding with plans to establish licensed medicalmarijuana dispensaries. These threats, which are backed by theJustice Department, kill any lingering hopes that President Obama would keephis campaign promise to respect the medical marijuana laws that have beenenacted in 15 states and the District of Columbia. During his presidential campaign, Obama repeatedly said he would call offthe Drug Enforcement Administration’s raids on both medical marijuana users andtheir suppliers. In aMarch 2008 interviewwith southern Oregon’s Mail Tribune, he said, “I’m not going to beusing Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on thisissue.” Two weeks after Obama took office, a White House spokesman reiteratedthat position, saying,“The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumventstate laws.” In October 2009, David Ogden, then the deputy attorney general, sent a memo thatseemed to fulfill this promise. “As a general matter,” he told U.S. attorneys,they “should not focus federal resources” on “individuals whose actions are inclear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for themedical use of marijuana.” Yet the DEA’s medical marijuana raids not only have continued but are morefrequent under Obama than they were under George W. Bush. Americans for SafeAccess (ASA), which argues that patients who can benefit from marijuana shouldbe able to obtain it legally, countswell over 100 raids in the two years and four months since Obama’sinauguration, compared to about 200 during Bush’s eight years in office. “TheObama administration really is being more aggressive than the administration ofhis predecessor,” says ASA spokesman Kris Hermes. At first it seemedthe DEA was targeting growers and sellers who arguably were not “in clear andunambiguous compliance” with state law, since the rules for supplying medicalmarijuana were fuzzy in jurisdictions such as California, Colorado, andMontana. But the U.S. attorney letters conclusively show that, contrary to theimpression left by the Ogden memo, complying with state law provides noprotection against federal prosecution. Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler insists there is “noinconsistency” between the recent threats and the Ogden memo, which she says“talks about not investigating sick individuals who might be in compliance withstate 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 andsuppliers cannot be reconciled with Attorney General Eric Holder’s descriptionof the new policy. “The policy is to go after those people who violate bothfederal and state law,” he saidin March 2009. “Our focus will be on people, organizations that are growing,cultivating substantial amounts of marijuana and doing so in a way that’sinconsistent with federal and state law.” The new gloss on the Ogden memo, notes Hermes, is “exactly the same as whatBush said for years: ‘We’re not targeting patients.’ There is no change.” The problem, of course, is that most of the “sick individuals” the Obamaadministration claims to be sparing are not up to the task of growing their ownmarijuana. When DEA raids or threats to landlords shut down dispensaries,Hermes notes, “patients wake up the next morning wondering where they’re goingto find their medication.” Obama’s position is that patients can havemarijuana; they just can’t get it anywhere. Jacob Sullum is a senioreditor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist. Michael A. Komorn Attorney and Counselor Law Office of Michael A. Komorn 3000 Town Center, Suite, 1800 Southfield, MI 48075 800-656-3557 (Toll Free) 248-351-2200 (Office) 248-357-2550 (Phone) 248-351-2211 (Fax) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.komornlaw.com Check out our Radio show: http://www.blogtalkr...lanetgreentrees CALL IN NUMBER: (347)326-9626 Live Every Wednesday 8-10:00p.m. PLANET GREENTREES w/ Attorney MichaelKomorn The most relevant radio talk show for the Michigan MedicalMarijuana Community. PERIOD. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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