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medical marijuana crackdown

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator April 29, 2012
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    “Marijuana is something that real people care about.” — Jimmy Kimmel (forward to 21:50 or click here)

    Late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel performed at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and took a moment to confront President Obama on his marijuana crackdown.

    I do have one real question for you, Mr. President.  What’s with the marijuana crackdown?  I mean, seriously, what’s the concern, we will deplete the nation’s Funyun supply?

    You know, pot smokers vote, too.  Sometimes a week after the election, but they vote.

    Let’s take a quick poll.  I would like everyone in this room to raise your hand if you’ve never smoked pot.

    Raise your hands if you've never smoked pot.

    [Very few hands go up.]  Heh heh.  There you go.  Look at Brit Hume – he’s high right now.  He’s on his fourth almond macaroon.

    Mr. President, I hope you don’t think I’m out of line here, but marijuana is something that real people care about.  The fact that you believe Speaker Boehner when he tells you he still has control of his party leads me to believe that you must be smoking some crazy great weed yourself.

    Woody Harrelson just woke up.

    Thank you, Jimmy Kimmel, for exemplifying how a cannabis consumer can be polite yet direct in calling on the president to explain a policy that is no longer supported by a majority of Americans.  Half of this country supports outright legalization of marijuana and three-quarters think marijuana punishments, if any, should be no more than ticketable offenses, not crimes.

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator April 5, 2012

    Oaksterdam founder Richard lee

    On today’s episode of NORML SHOW LIVE we spoke live with Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University.  Click this link to hear the interview.

    Richard told me he’s doing as well as can be expected when federal agents violate your home and business.  He tells us the nature of the federal warrants that were served Monday in early morning raids.

    Richard was “treated well” by the authorities – “they didn’t even break anything,” he told us – and he was not arrested, though that possibility still exists.

    Most remarkably, Richard expressed an optimistic view that these actions will galvanize the public opinion even more in our favor for ending this tragic medical marijuana crackdown.

    Richard reminded us that juries cannot be punished for their verdicts and urged everyone to work hard to get on jury duty so we can begin to dismantle the prosecution of prohibition.

    In closing, he lamented the IRS tax charges being used against him and others in the cannabis industry.  ”They can’t have it both ways,” he complained about the government’s claim he owes taxes on something that is illegal.  ”No taxation without legalization!”

    Join with Richard Lee and NORML in demanding an end to federal raids.  Make President Obama keep his campaign pledge to not devote federal resources to prosecuting medical marijuana providers that are in compliance with state law.

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator November 7, 2011

    NORML Attorneys Matt Kumin, David Michael, and Alan Silber, have filed suit (read here) in the four federal districts in California to challenge the Obama Administration’s recent crackdown on medical marijuana operations in the Golden State. Aided by expert testimony from NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano and research from California NORML Director Dale Gieringer, the suits seek an injunction against the recent federal intrusion into state medical marijuana laws at least and at most a declaration of the unconstitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act with respect to state regulation of medical marijuana.



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    The NORML attorneys allege the federal government has engaged in entrapment of California patients and their caregivers.  They point to the courts’ dismissal of County of Santa Cruz, WAMM et al. v. Eric Holder et al. where the Department of Justice (DOJ) “promised a federal judge that it had changed its policy toward the enforcement of its federal drug laws relative to California medical cannabis patients.”  So after 2009, California providers had reason to believe that the federal government had changed its policy.  The legal argument is called ‘judicial estoppel’, which basically means that courts can’t hold true to a fact in one case and then disregard it in another.

    Kumin, Michael, and Silber also argue the government has engaged in ‘equitable estoppel’, which most people commonly think of as ‘entrapment’.  That is to say, you can’t bust a person for committing a crime when the authorities told him it wasn’t a crime to do it!

    Under established principles of estoppel and particularly in the context of the defense of estoppel by entrapment, defendants to a criminal action are protected and should not be prosecuted if they have reasonably relied on statements from the government indicating that their conduct is not unlawful. That principle should be applied to potential defendants as well, the plaintiffs in this action.  Such parties, courts have noted, are “person[s] sincerely desirous of obeying the law”. They “accepted the information as true and [were]…not on notice to make further inquiries.” U.S. v. Weitzenhoff, 1 F. 3d 1523, 1534 (9th Cir. 1993).

    The US Constitution figures prominently in the legal challenge as well.  The 9th Amendment says that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  The NORML attorneys argue that threatening seizure of property and criminal sanctions violates the rights of the people to “consult with their doctors about their bodies and health.”

    The 10th Amendment provides that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  The NORML attorneys argue that the States have the “primary plenary power to protect the health of its citizens” and since the government has recognized and not attempted to stop Colorado’s state-run medical marijuana dispensary program, it cannot suggest Colorado has a state’s right that California does not.

    The 14th Amendment says that all citizens have equal protection under the law.  The NORML attorneys argue that the federal government:

    1. Actively provides cannabis for medical purposes to individuals through its own IND program.
    2. Actively allows patients in Colorado to access medical cannabis through a state-licensing system that allows individuals to make profit from the sales of medical cannabis.
    3. Actively restricts scientific research into the medical value and use of cannabis to alleviate human suffering and pain.

    Thus, according to Kumin, Michael, and Silber, the government can’t be allowing Colorado medical marijuana commerce, engaging it its own IND program that mails 300 joints a month to four federal medical marijuana patients yet squelching all attempts to study medical value of marijuana, then have a rational basis for shutting down medical marijuana dispensaries in California.  Under the 14th Amendment, the feds can’t treat Californians differently than Coloradoans and differently than four US citizens who get legal federal medical marijuana.

    Finally, while acknowledging that Raich v. Gonzales 545 US 1 (2005) set the precedent that the Constitution’s Interstate Commerce Clause does allow the feds to prosecute California’s medical marijuana, the NORML attorneys argue:

    …it is still difficult to imagine that marijuana grown only in California, pursuant to California State law, and distributed only within California, only to California residents holding state-issued cards, and only for medical purposes, can be subject to federal regulation pursuant to the Commerce Clause. For that reason, Plaintiffs preserve the issue for further Supreme Court review, if necessary and deemed appropriate.

    We will keep you posted on all updates related to this groundbreaking lawsuit.  Archive of our interview with the lead attorneys in this case is available in our “Audio/Video” section on The NORML Network.

    Click here to join NORML today and help us in the fight to legalize marijuana.