Last week, the US Drug Enforcement Agency sent memo noting a seemingly big change in the stance of how they will handle Medical Marijuana - now currently legal in 16 states, nationwide.
The memo -- which arrived June 29 in the email inboxes of U.S. attorneys nationwide, -- says that no patient or other user is shielded from federal prosecution by state laws. The memo comes after Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette unleashed a salvo last week, saying there was widespread lawbreaking linked to medical marijuana in Michigan.
The federal memo has medical marijuana advocates feeling betrayed by the Obama administration, which had been linked with hopes for leniency in the war on drugs.
"The $64,000 question is, are the U.S. district attorneys in offices across the country really going to go after these dispensaries and grow operations? We'll have to see," said Art Cotter, chairman of the medical marijuana committee for the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.
The Justice Department memo says, without naming specific states, that "planned facilities have revenue projections of millions of dollars, based on the cultivation of tens of thousands of cannabis plants."
Such large-scale operators must be stopped, and even smaller-scale users and distributors are not shielded from federal prosecution, "even where those activities purport to comply with state law," says the memo signed by U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole. Some say the memo makes clear that the Obama administration, contrary to the sense of a 2009 memo, opposes giving leniency to medical marijuana users.
Wait, hasn't there already been a diary? Of course. By the ACLU. Which got meager attention.
But what is missing is that in the end, the administration has signaled a back-to-hardball stance, especially with those who grow in new, locally approved "farms". These farms have often been through city and state zoning, are properly policed, and as the administration points out, they generate "MILLIONS" in revenue.
So, in a flagging economy, an industry that is actually growing and creating jobs and taxable income is about to face the Federal Hammer: Asset Forfeiture.
Medical marijuana advocates were borderline apoplectic. "This rolls out the red carpet for illicit dealers," fumed Morgan Fox, communications director for Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization lobbying group. "The only people that will benefit from this are law enforcement groups that depend on asset forfeiture, and Mexican drug cartels. Patients, local communities, and every American taxpayer will bear the brunt of this insane policy."
Salon makes it's note and rundown of what the Memo means:
So from the beginning of the administration to the present, have they actually gone after dispensaries?
There was a proliferation of dispensaries in states like Colorado and California. So there have in fact been more raids under the Obama administration than there were under the Bush administration. It's hard to say whether that's a reflection of the proliferation of dispensaries or whether that's a real change in policy. What's also not clear is whether the feds are only targeting those facilities that are not clearly operating legally under state law. So the feds have really created a growing sense of confusion in the medical marijuana community about where the line is between what will be permitted and what won't.
I want to say this in the most plain way possible. I do not use or ever wish to use drugs. I do not use Marijuana and would encourage others to also abstain.. I've never found any comfort in being out of control, so I don't drink or smoke or anything similar. But I find this entire shift in policy, which fills up jail cells and takes away revenue ridiculous. We are just smart enough to start throwing people under the bus to make a point that we are "tough" on the war on drugs. Welcome to the real world, that part of the war is lost. Just like Prohibition. Filling jail cells and imprisoning owners of dispensaries and making all of their assets forfeit... we're willing to do that; and yet, when banks rip people off, when people go hungry.. what are we offering them.
Cost of a jail cell per year: about $80k. (varies state to state)
I can think of a lot of better ways to spend my tax money. Please take that as a spending cut, thank you.