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Free The Forsbergs

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Dennis Forsberg doesn’t deserve to be serving a three-year sentence in federal prison. The Okemos businessman and his son got busted for leasing some warehouses they owned to medical marijuana growers licensed under Michigan law. Forsberg had followed state law and went out of his way to be transparent.

And still he went to prison because federal law trumps state law.



But a new Obama administration memo directs U.S. attorneys in all 50 states basically to hold off prosecuting individual marijuana users.

It’s not fair that the Forsbergs will have to finish out the sentences they started this summer while others doing the same thing now won’t be prosecuted. President Barack Obama should commute their sentences and those of others caught in this same trap.



The Justice Department memo is in response to recent laws in Colorado and Washington state legalizing recreational use of marijuana. It said it wouldn’t challenge these laws, as long as the states abide by strict rules. Michigan is one of 20 states that have legalized the medical use of the drug.


Under the new guidelines, prosecutors are to focus on preventing distribution of marijuana to minors, keeping pot from cartels and gangs and avoiding the distribution of the drug to states where it’s illegal. The Forsbergs weren’t doing any of those things


The department, the memo states, is “committed to using its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources to address the most significant threats in the most effective, consistent and rational way.”


Of course, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, even for medicinal use. But if the Obama administration is giving states a free pass to disregard the law, it’s only right that those like Forsberg, 59, benefit from this stance. Forsberg, who describes himself as a Christian, is a loyal husband and father with no previous criminal record. He is clearly not a “significant threat.”


This isn’t the first time the Justice Departm

ent has issued memos related to marijuana. In 2009, the department told U.S. attorneys to focus on large traffickers of illegal drugs like marijuana, but said the prosecution of individuals using marijuana as medicine in compliance with state law “is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.”


Unfortunately for the Forsberg family, federal agents were all too eager to storm the family’s property in 2010.

JoAnn Forsberg, Dennis Forsberg’s wife, has continued to fight for her husband’s release and spread the word of the dangers of becoming involved with medical marijuana — even when it’s legal at the state level.


She has held rallies and created a petition on change.org calling for the “compassionate release” of Forsberg, who is serving his time in North Carolina.

Matthew Abel, an attorney for Cannabis Counsel in Detroit and executive director of Michigan’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has pointed out the inconsistencies in how the federal government prosecutes marijuana users and growers.


That’s something Congress needs to address soon — the Justice Department memos aren’t enough. If states are going to continue legalizing pot for personal or medicinal use, they need to be certain they aren’t setting up their citizens for federal prosecution.

In the meantime, free the Forsbergs.



From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130909/OPINION01/309090004#ixzz2ePdEBHi4

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