Feds Keep Fooling Around With Medical Marijuana: Full Cannabis Legalization or Bust!

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director October 8, 2011

    NORMLIt’s getting ugly and NORML needs your help now more than ever to stand up for the rights of responsible adults cannabis consumers. The Administration that promised to base drug policy on science and respect state marijuana laws is ignoring medical facts, the needs of patients, and the economic benefits that regulated dispensaries bring to medical cannabis-friendly states.

    There is no way to sugar coat the terrible past two weeks we’ve had at the hands of Prohibition-loving federal and state governments.

    Yesterday, the four U.S. Attorneys from California–along with their respective counterparts here in Washington D.C. from the DEA and IRS–declared that a statewide crackdown against large-scale medical cannabis cultivators and sellers with national implications is currently underway.

    Question: Will U.S. Attorneys in the other fifteen states and D.C. with medical cannabis laws pursue similarly aggressive enforcement?

    But wait! There’s more. Much more.

    • Earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a long-awaited $2.5 million ruling against a major medical cannabis dispensary in California. Citing an obscure part of the US tax code meant to target drug cartels, the federal agency is barring dispensaries, even those licensed under state law, from taking any business-related tax deductions and is seeking millions in dollars in back taxes.
      This adverse ruling has the very real potential to stop the regulated sale of cannabis currently underway in California, Colorado, Maine and New Mexico; and planned in Arizona, Montana, Delaware, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C
    • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) issued a heavy-handed one-page memo to every gun and ammunition dealer nationwide informing them that they must, by law, deny sales to lawful patients who possess a physician’s recommendation to use medical cannabis–many of whom posses state-issues medical cannabis ID cards–effectively denying their Second Amendment rights to have a gun to hunt or for personal safety.
    • Federal regulators cracked down on banks in Colorado, California and Michigan that had previously conduct business with medical cannabis dispensaries, forbidding these financial institutions from allowing cash deposits or processing credit/debit cards from state or locally approved canna-businesses.
    • U.S. Attorneys in California sent warnings to local dispensaries in San Francisco, San Diego, and elsewhere warning that locally compliant facilities still may be subject to federal prosecution for violating federal ‘drug free school zones’ legislation — leaving these facilities with no choice but to either move or close.
    • Also, federal attorneys in California have sent hundreds of legal warnings to the landlords of properties that rent to medical cannabis businesses (retail, delivery, cultivation and testing) warning that their properties and assets are subject to swift civil forfeiture proceedings, and that they themselves may be subject to decades in prison. Is it likely that federal attorneys do the same in Colorado, New Mexico and Maine; and to the numerous gray area dispensaries in Oregon and Washington?
    • Rhode Island’s governor Lincoln Chafee pulled the plug on the state’s nascent medical cannabis dispensary program, despite it having been previously approved 102 – 3 by the state legislature. Why? Governor Chafee cites recent memos from the Department of Justice threatening to federally prosecute employees involved in the state-licensed production or distribution of cannabis.
    • Michigan courts, the legislature and the state’s Attorney General are steadily dissembling the state’s medical cannabis program, despite the law having passed with 63 percent public approval.

    * * * *

    There are only two things to say after reading such an alarming list of recent setbacks to ending Cannabis Prohibition:

    1. Rather than pour millions of dollars and human energy into creating a legally and politically contentious policy that allows some cannabis consumers who can obtain a physician’s recommendation to be immune from state (but not federal) prosecution during a time of general Cannabis Prohibition, all cannabis consumers, patients, cultivators and sellers and their families should focus their full attention and resources to once and for all legalizing cannabis for all responsible adult consumers.
    2. Make a donation to NORML now, join a local NORML chapter (there are nearly 200 of them nationwide!) today or purchase a NORML-related product and show the country that you support ending Cannabis Prohibition in our lifetime.

    Everyone at NORML has known that 2012 was going to be the busiest year in our 40-year civil rights efforts to legalize marijuana.

    …However, with the Obama Administration’s new and aggressive assertion of federal primacy over states and cities that have crafted superior, public-endorsed, free market-oriented public policies, we’re now assured long and difficult political and legal battles in the coming year with a federal government that still does not ‘get it’ regarding the public’s desire to retire the 74-year-old Cannabis Prohibition right next to the last ‘great social experiment’, Alcohol Prohibition.

    Anticipating yesterday’s federal actions in California, members of the NORML Legal Committee (NLC), a nationwide network of over 600 lawyers, is already organizing and poised to challenge federal and state governments who seek to kill patients’ access to medical cannabis and to defend citizens egregiously charged by their own government for law violations.

    If you watched the three-part PBS series this week on Alcohol Prohibition, it is impossible not to draw similarities to the absurdity of alcohol’s prohibition to that of the ongoing, heavy-handed criminalization of cannabis, and that ultimately only politically organized citizens came to end the federal government’s folly by putting sufficient legal and political pressure on their elected policymakers.

    Our generation must do the same to end our nation’s long-suffering Cannabis Prohibition.

    Get (More) Active. Donate now. Be NORML. Every contribution helps.

    Thanks for caring and sharing,

    Allen St. Pierre
    Executive Director
    Washington, DC

    221 responses to “Feds Keep Fooling Around With Medical Marijuana: Full Cannabis Legalization or Bust!”

    1. dragan says:

      any site about legalise pot in EUROPE

    2. Gentlemen and ladies…set your sites! C=>http://tinyurl.com/ObamaMedMjPolicy #FreeMarc

    3. BobKat says:

      Please donate! I just did, for the $50 membership I not only receive a great t-shirt I’ll be proud to wear, but I feel good supporting a long time ally in the battle for commonsense in recognition of the benefits of cannabis against the War Machine that makes criminals out of peace-loving citizens.

      NORML has been there for all of us since the early 1970’s. I’m 57, so I remember their efforts to end this injustice in the 1970’s when I was in my early 20’s.

      “Reefer Madness” must end now.

    4. Jaon says:

      How to win any marijuana legalization debate

      this is a work in progress, feel free to offer suggestions:

      Step 1: Pose the following question – “Why do we need to criminally prosecute people for [the responsible use of marijuana]?”

      Step 2: Hear response.

      Step 3a: If response is something like “because it makes people lazy.” Go to step one, but alter question with [for being lazy] Emphasize the word “criminally”. You may come back to this step several times.

      Step 3b: if response is because of violence, point out that (i) there are no gunfights between our government and the makers of Corona. (ii) point out that the consumers of marijuana are no more responsible for the actions of the suppliers than consumers are responsible for the child labor that helped make any product from China. (iii) Repeat Step 1, but emphasize the word “use”.

      Step 3c: if response is because of negative effects of marijuana, again go to step one, but alter question with [said negative effect], and emphasize the word “criminally.”

      Step 3d: if response is because of people driving while stoned, again go to step one, but emphasize the word responsible.” Point out that the law bans the responsible use as well.

      Step 4: if the above activity eventually leads to a response along the lines of “because of the economic drain it causes in health/welfare costs.” Ask for evidence that the costs of enforcing prohibition have been less than the health/welfare costs that would exist without prohibition. If there is none, then ask why a law was enacted before there was any evidence that it would be fiscally responsible.

      Step 5: If they respond with something along the lines of “you can’t put a price tag on the prevention of human suffering,” then ask why they brought up the health/welfare costs as a factor.

      Step x: At any point if it seems like they are making up their answers, you should point out that it is already law and that criminal prosecution is a serious and agonizing event; it is not something that should be done lightly and as a result of guesswork. There should already be a good reason for it. Usually, when there isn’t a good reason for causing people to suffer, that means that someone is simply too ashamed to admit the reason is money.

      Step z (rare): I’ve only seen this once when a caller asked a similar question to the DEA head on cspan, when California was considering legalizing marijuana. I think I should mention it because it was significant. The DEA responded to the question with something along the lines of “it isn’t the DEAs job to punish for individual use. I go after big-time suppliers.” The correct response to this would have been “regardless of what you do, you are here representing prohibition, which includes the criminal prosecution for the responsible use of marijuana.” Repeat step 1.

    5. Adam J says:

      NORML would have more of my money if this had been their mantra for the past decade. I support legalization with all my heart and also know that cannabis helps many with serious illnesses, but the medical system in its current form is a transparent sham (and as we are seeing, possibly a counter productive one). I mean come on. How many other prescription medications can you buy in 40 different flavors and control your own dosage? The point we are missing (especially the Stoners Against Legalization morons, thanks guys) is that reasonably viewed, cannabis should be every bit as legal for adults as beer and wine.

    6. Ramos says:

      First they ignored us, then they laughed at us. Now, they’re fighting us.

    7. Salty says:

      Hmmm…well I don’t think I can donate anymore. This government doesn’t give a shit about anyone. They will never listen. My money will go into growing more weed and buying even more guns to protect myself from my own government.

    8. Kim West says:

      This is unbelievable! Our president has promised to keep the Fed-DEA out of the State’s business regarding medical marijuana and/or decriminalization! He has gone back on almost every promise he’s made to us! It’s time for a Revolution! Let your lawmakers know that you’re tired of being told what you can and can not choose as your own personal medicine! That Government has become too intrusive and you’re tired of it! It’s about Personal and Collective Freedom! Fight for Freedom and don’t take No for an answer!

    9. Ll says:

      I hope Obama gets a really painful disease, seeks treatment with medical marijuana, and then is arrested, imprisoned and spends his remaining days wasting away in some he’ll-hole prison while the police divide up his fortune.


    10. Kirk Perry says:

      San Diego, California is the target city for the DEA to set an example. Be prepared.
      A sit-in at the San Diego DEA or Federal Bldg. is the only way to get the same national media coverage that the DEA is getting. It’s working for the “greed patrol’s” nation wide.
      It’s all about politics. City attorney Jan Goldsmith is bucking for private. An ambitious fellow, he and others to follow will use MJ as an anvil to beat on.

      Have NORML draw-up some alternatives that Mr. Davidovich suggest, about regulations and education of MJ, and have that doctrine in your hand when asked a news-media question. Have an answer.
      Now is the time. If we sit back and watch it all happen, the FED will create damage to MMJ distribution that will take time to repair.
      This election season, when you’re annoyed by door to door candidate-survey’s, ask them if their candidate supports medical marijuana. If not, then inform them as to why, before you shut the door in their face.