Federal Government Announces Escalation Of Its War On Cannabis

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 7, 2011

    “This is not an idle threat. … What we’re trying to do is send a message as broadly as possible. … We are serious about enforcing federal law. … We are not just talking about it, but we are doing something about it. … Prosecuting marijuana cases is a higher priority now.”
    –statements of the US Attorneys for the four federal districts in California

    We’ve seen this coming for some time, but today the gloves officially came off. No more memos filled with false promises; no more phony pledges to respect states rights, no more giggles. Like a caged animal backed into a corner, the federal government is snarling and spitting back. It has no other way to defend its morally bankrupt policy except through a show of strength and intimidation.

    California’s Top Federal Law Enforcement Officials Announce Enforcement Actions Against State’s Widespread and Illegal Marijuana Industry

    via the US Department of Justice, Eastern District of California

    SACRAMENTO, Calif.: October 7, 2011 – The four California-based United States Attorneys today announced coordinated enforcement actions targeting the illegal operations of the commercial marijuana industry in California.

    The statewide enforcement effort is aimed at curtailing the large, for-profit marijuana industry that has developed since the passage of California’s Proposition 215 in 1996.

    … While the four United States Attorneys have tailored enforcement actions to the specific problems in their own districts, the statewide enforcement efforts fall into three main categories:

    · Civil forfeiture lawsuits against properties involved in drug trafficking activity, which includes, in some cases, marijuana sales in violation of local ordinances;

    · Letters of warning to the owners and lienholders of properties where illegal marijuana sales are taking place; and

    · Criminal cases targeting commercial marijuana activities, including arrests over the past two weeks in cases filed in federal courts in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno.

    The enforcement actions being announced today are the result of the four United States Attorneys working with federal law enforcement partners and local officials across California to combat commercial marijuana activities that are having the most significant impacts in communities.

    “The actions taken today in California by our U.S. Attorneys and their law enforcement partners are consistent with the Department’s commitment to enforcing existing federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), in all states,” said Deputy Attorney General James Cole.

    … Laura E. Duffy, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California, commented: “The California marijuana industry is not about providing medicine to the sick. It’s a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law. In addition to damaging our environment, this industry is creating significant negative consequences, in California and throughout the nation. As the number one marijuana producing state in the country, California is exporting not just marijuana but all the serious repercussions that come with it, including significant public safety issues and perhaps irreparable harm to our youth.”

    Melinda Haag, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, said: “Marijuana stores operating in proximity to schools, parks, and other areas where children are present send the wrong message to those in our society who are the most impressionable. In addition, the huge profits generated by these stores, and the value of their inventory, present a danger that the stores will become a magnet for crime, which jeopardizes the safety of nearby children. Although our initial efforts in the Northern District focus on only certain marijuana stores, we will almost certainly be taking action against others. None are immune from action by the federal government.

    Dozens of letters have been sent over the past few days to the owners and lienholders of properties where commercial marijuana stores and grows are located. In the Southern and Eastern Districts, the owners of buildings where marijuana stores operate have received letters warning that they risk losing their property and money derived from renting the space used for marijuana sales. In the Central District, … prosecutors have sent letters to property owners in selected cities where officials have requested federal assistance, and they plan to continue their enforcement actions in other cities as well. In the Northern District, owners and lienholders of marijuana stores operating near schools and other locations where children congregate have been warned that their operations are subject to enhanced penalties and that real property involved in the operations is subject to seizure and forfeiture to the United States.

    … The statewide coordinated enforcement actions were announced this morning at a press conference in Sacramento.

    It has been apparent for some time now that the Obama Administration is escalating its efforts to both crack down on existing above ground, medical cannabis operations in states like California, as well as to thwart the establishments of similar operations in additional states.

    So why these stepped up efforts now? The answer ought to be self-evident. The intention of these and other recent, well-publicized threats by the Obama administration is to stifle the development of a viable legal cannabis distribution industry, even in states that have enacted legislation to allow for such an industry.

    During today’s conference, all four US Attorneys affirmed that their intent is not to target individual, state-compliant medical cannabis consumers per se, but to emphasize that the Department of Justice is opposed to the regulated commerce of medical cannabis. That’s because once this industry has legitimized itself to the public and local lawmakers in California, Colorado, and elsewhere, then voters will become accustomed to safe, secure, well-run businesses that deliver consistent, reliable, tested cannabis products. They’ll appreciate the way well-regulated medical dispensaries revitalize sagging economies, provide jobs, and contribute taxes to budget-starved localities. They’ll realize all the years of scaremongering by the government about what would happen if marijuana were legal, even for sick people, was nothing but hysterical propaganda. And the voting public will eventually ask: ‘Why we don’t just legalize cannabis for everyone in a similarly responsible manner?’

    And that is a question this administration has consistently indicated that the President is unable or unwilling to answer.

    237 Responses to “Federal Government Announces Escalation Of Its War On Cannabis”

    1. Anonymous says:

      I’m not sure if my thinking on this is correct or not, but doesn’t this go against the 10th amendment. My understanding is that each individual state can decide for itself what it laws are governing these things. The only reason that the federal government was ever able to effectively ban marijuana is because it has jurisdiction over interstate commerce. So my thinking is that if manufacturing and distribution is limited to the respected states that have legal marijuana laws, the federal government should not be able to step in.

    2. andy says:

      a very beautiful but very restricted world, frustrating, made progress but now receding back to the dark side. Now making it worldwide, very sad and on King Obama’s watch.

    3. megadave says:

      If this happens, about 2,000,000 or more people will be behind bars

    4. andy says:

      the employers will not hire pot heads and that is what the GOV is trying to do, bring back jobs and employers say a pot head is less producing. Legalize just like alchohol, what is the problem??? just another mechanism to control the population, the laws are the problem, Obama has to crack down because of employers-the people who run the world-the rich, but then there are the irresponsibles-having families,driving,going to work high etc., have to be sober in public or they’ll come hunting, people are killers/very unhappy because of this inadequate, very disingenuine, corrupt society. All the land is fenced, ever notice that,stay your ass on the concrete, better yet in your rental with the shades closed, can’t even park on the side of the road anymore, beginning to look like England.Born workers of a corporation-to produce and consume, the indians had it right, so how do you live if you think this way, the laws driving people underground their whole lives, sincerely this world is very sad, not as intended at all and it could be so beautiful and harmonious but people are resistant and fear change, can’t disconnect and think for themselves, have kids and become vested in the corrupt/greed system and turn on all their fellow man for their family’s security and prosperity-The Darth Vader story, fear drove Annequin Skywalker to turn to the dark side-sincerely good lesson.

    5. Retired Navy says:

      It is time for us to join the occupy crowd!

    6. […] full post on NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform Share and […]

    7. zach p says:

      Forgive me for errors because I am on an android key board.

    8. rick says:

      our govt is out of control we might as well be a communist country its a sad day for the legalization movement,now the greedy growers will pay for not voting yes on prop 19 i told u cali that this would happen if u didnt get prop 19 passed because of the greed

    9. zach p says:

      These laws are ridiculous
      I wonder if this is goinng to be the same “official response” from the administration we were promised with the petition.
      I recently did a speech, in a class im taking, about the variety of the nationwide cannabis prohibition. The feds dont recognize state laws in anyway. While some states have cannabis decriminazed, others are very strict.
      They must listen to their citizens who have votes. Its is a matter of time. I believe that, one day, we will have lefalized cannabis. Support NORML and anyy politician with values that match your own. Regardless od their position on cannabis.

    10. Paul Armentano says:

      Republican Presidential candidate Gary Johnson responds:


      “And beyond the legal arguments and the policy debate, what is the
      practical, on-the-ground effect of DOJ shutting down dispensaries? Is it going to make life better for anyone? NO. It is only going to turn a lot
      of people who are trying to abide by the law into criminals. Instead of
      going to a dispensary under medical supervision, thousands of
      Californians will be going to street corners to buy pot from the
      cartels. Now that is a great outcome. Thank you, DOJ.”


      Regardless of one’s view of medical marijuana, Americans who believe in states’ rights should be extremely disturbed that the federal government is in the process of shutting down businesses, threatening criminal charges, and confiscating the property of small businesses operating under good faith according to state law.

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