Perhaps Gov. Gregoire didn't feel brave enough to claim the veto as her own, which must be why she publicly dragged the DOJ into the state legislative process.
The question, oft asked and bound to be repeated again, is: didn't the WH already issue guidelines for when to interfere with states' policy on MMJ? Over in Montana, a Democratic Gov vetoed a repeal of the state's MMJ program.
Today, a Democrat is taking credit for a step backwards, because there's nothing moral or constructive or logical about having a medical cannabis program, but an inadequate supply system for patients.
In fact, that very shortcoming is the reason that an Ontario judge struck down Canada's MMJ law.
Washington state's legislature did just that last week, approving a bill that would allow state employees to license growers and sellers of the product, as well as retail locations.
Reacting to the bill, Gov. Chris Gregoire wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting more information on how the federal government views the matter.
The DoJ's letter in response, written by Attorneys Jenny Durkan and Michael Ormsby, was nothing short of unambiguous.
"The prosecution of individuals and organizations involved in the trade of any illegal drugs and the disruption of drug trafficking organizations is a core priority of the Department," they replied. "This core priority includes prosecution of business enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana."
The letter continued: "This [bill] would authorize conduct contrary to federal law and thus, would undermine the federal government's efforts to regulate the possession, manufacturing, and trafficking of controlled substances. Accordingly, the Department could consider civil and criminal legal remedies regarding those who set up marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries as they will be doing so in violation of federal law. Others who knowingly facilitate the actions of the licensees, including property owners, landlords, and financiers should also know that their conduct violates federal law. In addition, state employees who conducted activities mandated by the Washington legislative proposals would not be immune from liability under the CSA."
Gov. Gregoire said Friday that due to the department's response, she would not sign the medical marijuana bill.
It was just three years ago when President Obama (then candidate Obama) famously pledged to no longer use federal “Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws” regulating the physician authorized use of medical cannabis. And it was in the fall of 2009 that the administration issued the Ogden memorandum to federal prosecutors directing them to 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 in recent days the administration has seen fit to interject itself in the ongoing legislative debate to establish and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state. Last week, on the eve of a final House vote regarding Senate Bill 5073, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington issued a statement warning landlords that they could face forfeiture of their properties if they rent to licensed medical marijuana facilities. Undeterred, the House passed SB 5073 (the Senate had previously passed an earlier version of the bill), setting up a potential showdown between lawmakers and Democrat Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Predictably, Gov. Gregoire is now shying away from the proposal. As reported by the Seattle Times, the Governor stated “In light of the Department of Justice’s guidance, it is clear that I cannot sign a bill that authorizes our state employees to license marijuana dispensaries when the department would prosecute those involved.”
Will the Feds most recent threats have a potential chilling effect on pending legislation in Delaware, Illinois, and Vermont — additional states where lawmakers recently voted in favor of establishing similar state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries? And what, if anything, do these threats imply for states like Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, and Rhode Island where such facilities have already been authorized by the state?
No word yet on what possible benefit this presents to the Governor of Washington. Future contributions from law enforcement lobby, or others? The voters of Washington aren't going to be supportive of this move.
Take, for instance, the city of Seattle, which is even more supportiveof cannabis than San Fransisco:
As of yesterday evening, every member of Seattle legislative delegation to Olympia—all ten representatives and all five senators from the 34th, 36th, 37th, 43rd, and 46th Districts—had gone on the record to say that they support taxing, regulating, and legalizing marijuana. They join every elected official at City Hall (the mayor, the city attorney, and all nine members of the city council) and King County Executive Dow Constantine.
The final holdout was 46th District Representative David Frockt (who had been opposed to legalization a couple weeks ago). However, after a little goading and he heard testimonies from former US attorney John McKay and a former Whatcom County judge on a bill to tax and regulate pot, Frockt called last night to say that he had come around. He wouldn't commit to any specific bill, but said, "I am okay with legalization, I am okay with regulation, and I am fine with taxation." Good job, Rep. Frockt.
Has any other major US city shown such widespread support among its elected leaders for legalizing marijuana? I don't know. I just called an office at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, where a staffer told me that uniform support for legalization "is not the case in San Francisco," adding that his employer, Sean R. Elsbernd, "would have some concerns."
This seems significant, whether we're the first city or not: It appears that the safest position politically these days—the most mainstream position a politician can take in Seattle—is to replace the War on Pot with a government takeover the entire industry. Quashing the politically toxic drug war is a winning platform
Who wants some poll numbers for WA?
56% think re-legalization is a good idea, 8 % are not sure.
54% support the idea of selling marijuana in state-run liquor stores, and a bill in the state legislature to that effect just died last week.
House Bill 1550 didn’t advance out of the relevant committees by Friday evening – a key cutoff date during the 2011 Legislature.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle would legalize marijuana, have its sale regulated by the state Liquor Control Board and impose a tax of 15 percent per gram on cannabis. Supporters say it would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars for a state government staring at a deficit of at least $5 billion for the next two years. A contingent of Seattle officials testified for the bill last month.
But actually passing a legalized pot bill was always going to be a hard sell. Technically, the measure could be incorporated into a budget bill in the final weeks of the session, but that seems highly unlikely.
The Seattle Times editorial board recently said marijuana should be legalized and there’s a chance voters will get a chance to weigh in on the matter soon. Sponsors of a measure that would legalize marijuana use by people 18 and older are collecting signatures to try to get an initiative before the people this fall. To qualify for the November ballot, initiative sponsors need to get the signatures of more than 241,000 registered voters by July 8. Last year a similar effort fell short by about 50,000 signatures.
Canada strikes down cannabis laws.
Seattle Times : Legalize, Tax, and Regulate It.
Delaware Approves Medical MJ