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Government’S Memo On Marijuana Confusing To Local Residents

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Of The Oakland Press


New federal policy statements on marijuana — one from the U.S. Justice Department and another from the Drug Enforcement Administration — are generating comments among Michigan supporters and detractors of medical marijuana.


What the June 29 policy memo from Deputy Attorney General James Cole at the U.S. Justice Department said, briefly, is that people who cultivate, sell or distribute marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law.


“The memo delivers little clarity and creates more confusion in medical marijuana states,” said Rick Thompson, editor of Oak Park-based Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine.


“The anti-compassionate attitude most certainly represents a new policy for 2011. The memo’s threat of money-laundering charges leaves businesspersons struggling to find the proper path to compliance while providing the fastest-growing source of new jobs in our state, and others.”


Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said she didn’t consider the memo offering anything new.


“It’s in clearer language. The Supreme Court said it six years ago in 2005,” she said.


The Court’s opinion, she said, was that “regardless of what states enacted, the federal law takes precedent. We have indicated that was the case.”


After reading of the memo, Walt Bedell, Waterford Township Prosecutor, said, “Marijuana is still a controlled substance under the federal act, and in my opinion federal law pre-empts any state regulations.


“A lot of people were doing things (connected with medical marijuana) that were not authorized such as operating dispensaries and growing operations, and all along the federal government said it was illegal.”


To many, this new memo appears to change the federal government’s position on medical marijuana, which appeared to be easing.


Back in 2009, the U.S. Justice Department informed U.S. attorneys that they shouldn’t prosecute people whose “actions are in clear compliance” with state medical marijuana laws.


Medical marijuana advocates were elated by the stance.


But since February, 10 U.S. attorney’s offices have asserted they have the authority to prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers in states with medical marijuana laws.


Prosecutors, the states complained, are not even willing to declare that state employees who implement such laws are immune from prosecution.


DEA chimes in


Last week the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected a petition filed nine years ago by medical marijuana proponents asking to reclassify the drug.


They had sought to remove marijuana from the most restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act.


According to information published in the San Diego Tribune, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart wrote that the petition was being rejected for a number of reasons.


Among them, she said: “Marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”


A slap at states’ rights?


Jim Rasor, a Royal Oak City Commissioner and general law attorney, said the Justice Department has entered into a states’ rights matter.


“I’m always appalled federal government fails to recognize state voters have the right to govern their own affairs,” said Rasor.


“As I read the memo, it’s a tool being used to keep state legislators from implementing policies that were voted in. It smacks of very anti-American activity.”


Michael Komorn, who has medical marijuana patients and caregivers as clients, said, “The memo does little to clarify anything. What it fails to address is the fact that every major medical institution has declared that cannabis is medicine and the federal government knows this.


“It is a dishonest and uncompassionate response to those Americans who are using cannabis to treat their illness. You would hope to think more from our government.”


Komorn said he is waiting for state rights politicians “who oppose Obama-care and support Arizona’s state immigration law to do the same on this issue. Either way the memo makes safe reliable access to cannabis for sick people more challenging.”


The Associated Press has contributed to this story.


Contact Oakland Press staff writer Carol Hopkins at 248-745-4645 or carol.hopkins@oakpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @waterfordreport.




Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of marijuana, with programs in various phases of development. The states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.


DEA’s response to a petition that DEA received from the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis requesting marijuana be re-scheduled can be viewed at www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubs/coalition_response.pdf


YOU TELL US: What do you think these new federal government statements about medical marijuana mean?

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Ogden Memo 2009:



The prosecution of significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, and the disruption of illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking networks continues to be a core priority in the Department’s efforts against narcotics and dangerous drugs, and the Department’s investigative and prosecutorial resources should be directed towards these objectives. 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.


New memo: Cole Memo:



A number of states have enacted some form of legislation relating to the medical use of marijuana. Accordingly, the Ogden Memo reiterated to you that prosecution of significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, remains a core priority, but advised that it is likely not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or their caregivers. The term "caregiver" as used in the memorandum meant just that: individuals providing care to individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses, not commercial operations cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana. The Department's view of the efficient use of limited federal resources as articulated in the Ogden Memorandum has not changed.


There has, however, been an increase in the scope of commercial cultivation, sale, distribution and use of marijuana for purported medical purposes. For example, within the past 12 months, several jurisdictions have considered or enacted legislation to authorize multiple large-scale, privately-operated industrial marijuana cultivation centers. Some of these planned facilities have revenue projections of millions of dollars based on the planned cultivation of tens of thousands of cannabis plants.





There is zero difference between the Ogden memo and the Cole memo. This is just the commercial dispensaries spending tons of money and time to protect their pocketbooks and hide behind patients who are protected by all current memo's released. Dispensaries and large commercial operations have been called out for hiding behind what was meant to keep patients and their direct caregivers out of Federal prison. I never thought dispensaries were protected by the Ogden memo and anyone who had read it should have understood that and most did get it; they just wanted to push patients out from under the umbrella of patient protections offered by the Obama Administration.


God Bless Obama for his protecting of patients until the Legislature decides to pass a medical cannabis bill or a Republican becomes president and strips the protections Obama gave us. Love to see how much people whine when we lose Obama;s protections which so many seem to ignore. Then people will appreciate what he has done so far and what he will do in the future, if re-elected, for Cannabis patients. One step at a time people. This aint gonna happen overnight. We are chipping away at the mountain. Don;t go against the only President since 1937 to loosen marijuana prosecutions for patients.


Who needs dispensaries anyway. They only wish to steal away the patients and caregivers rights to Home Growing because it is so 'dangerous' and remove the ability of caregivers to even be compensated for costs. Don;t be fooled my friends. Home Growing is the absolute key to raw medical cannabis's future. Fight for it with everything you have and don;t let dispensary propaganda call you irresponsible and incapable of growing your own medicine while labelling caregivers as "alley thugs" and uncaring street dealers.

Edited by CherryCrush
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