Posts Tagged ‘barrack obama’
Remember when we were told that “legalization isn’t in the president’s vocabulary?”
Remember when he emphatically stated he would not pursue a strategy of decriminalization of marijuana?
Yeah, we do, too.
So imagine our surprise at NORML to find an ad for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign nestled in the prime ad spot on our YouTube channel: NORMLtv (http://youtube.com/natlnorml).
What’s the campaign strategy for the marijuana smoker vote, Mr. Obama? Keeping at the head of the DEA one of Mr. Bush’s administrators? Maintaining the Bush-era policy of raiding medical marijuana providers? Escalating numbers of marijuana arrests on your watch?
Or will it just be, “Look, you think I’m bad, imagine what happens if (fill in GOP nominee) wins! I just want to force pot smokers into costly rehab they don’t need on the threat of prison. (Fill in GOP nominee) wants to (fill in terrible threat we’re already experiencing now)!”
You want the absolute guaranteed votes of 90% of the 25 million American adults who use cannabis annually in America?
Convince Congress to pass and then you sign Barney Frank and Ron Paul’s Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.
It doesn’t cost you anything. Marijuana is still illegal in all fifty states and 99% of all marijuana arrests take place at the state and local level. It just means marijuana is no longer a federal issue; states are free to set up any marijuana regulations they choose. The people in marijuana friendly states will support you more and the ones who hate pot still think you’re a secret Muslim agent from Kenya anyway.
Well, I take that back. Your contributors from Big Pharma might not like you endorsing the competition.
The federal government has sent state governments a clear message on medical marijuana: they’re not going to get in the way.
Arizona governor Jan Brewer has been at the forefront of a fight over state-level legality of medical marijuana. This week the Obama Administration handed the marijuana advocates a big win.
In typical style, Brewer approached her opposition to medical marijuana in Arizona in backwards, Orwellian manner. Arizona voted to implement a legal medical marijuana program in in the 2010 midterm elections. Brewer, however, blocked the program from being implemented, saying that it contradicted the federal Controlled Substances Act and that implementing it would expose Arizona state employees to prosecution by the federal government.
“I won’t stand aside while state employees and average Arizonans acting in good faith are unwittingly put at risk,” she said. She then sued the federal government for “clarity,” to resolve the apparent conflict between the law Arizona voters had passed and the federal government’s own stance on marijuana.
On Monday the federal government dismissed the claim as ridiculous and filed to drop the entire suit, promising it has no plans to prosecute state employees for implementing legal medical marijuana programs voted into law.
The Department of Justice motion to dismiss says that in implementing its medical marijuana program Arizona has no “concrete plan to act in violation of the Controlled Substances Act” and that “plaintiffs can point to no threat of enforcement against the State’s employees” on the part of the federal government.
Brewer had tried to use threat of federal prosecution as a roadblock to prevent the state’s marijuana program from being implemented, and the Department of Justice has answered, making it clear that they won’t prevent states from implementing such programs or prosecute for doing so.
A lawyer for the ACLU said, “By taking the highly unusual step of challenging her own state’s law, Gov. Brewer is undermining the will of Arizona voters and unconscionably seeking to prevent thousands of sick Arizonans from being able to access important medicine.” It would seem that with the federal government calling “not it,” Brewer is just about out of obstacles to use in objecting to her state’s medical marijuana policy.
This is good news for pot advocates everywhere, since the brief implies the same policy holds true for all states. Marijuana Policy Project notes that New Jersey Chris Christie recently implemented that state’s medical marijuana program, saying he doesn’t believe the federal government will waste federal resources “on going after dispensaries in New Jersey.”
Turns out he was right. Smoke if you got ‘em, state governments.
In many ways, things have been looking up for supporters of medical marijuana. Opinion polls now suggest that the American public is swinging behind the idea — and it’s already legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia. But the Obama administration has been taking a very different view lately.
Marijuana has been cropping up all over the country, becoming legal for medical use in places like Montana and Colorado, where the drug’s so available that it became a target on Saturday Night Live this year.
On that show’s “Weekend Update,” Seth Meyers drew laughs when he said, “A doctor in Colorado has converted two trailers into mobile doctors’ offices to help dispense medical marijuana to patients in rural areas. Oh wait, you know, I’m sorry I read that wrong. Some guy in Colorado is selling weed out of a trailer. There you go.”
But John Walters, director of the Office of Drug Control Policy during the Bush administration, told NPR the widespread use of marijuana is no laughing matter.
“It’s a dangerous addictive substance and people are playing games with this and pretending because they think it’s cool sometimes to not take it seriously,” Walters said.
But you know who is taking it seriously these days? The Obama administration, which recently lashed out against the drug in three distinct ways.
First, on Monday, the White House released its National Drug Control Strategy, reporting that use of marijuana is the highest it’s been in eight years. The policy document went out of its way to oppose marijuana legalization, arguing the drug is addictive and unsafe.
Second, late last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration concluded that marijuana has no accepted medical use. So the DEA rejected a years-long effort to reclassify marijuana from a heavily restricted drug like heroin under the Controlled Substances Act to one that can be used more widely.
Finally, the Justice Department has taken a tough line on marijuana too. Federal prosecutors say they won’t go after sick people. But late last month, they warned that big medical marijuana shops aren’t exempt from federal prosecution if they distribute the drug, even in states where medical marijuana is legal.
That disappoints Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which argues for rethinking the approach to drugs.
“Unfortunately what the Obama administration seems to be doing is trying to scare precisely those state and local authorities who want to design sensible regulations to make sure all of this is properly under control,” Nadelmann said. “You know a lot of this I think is about the Justice Department sort of firing a shot against the bow, and saying don’t go too far.”
Remember that Saturday Night Live joke?
Well, newspapers in the state report that Colorado now has more than 800 medical marijuana dispensaries and more than 1,000 growers who have registered with state authorities. Medical marijuana is legal there. Lawmakers even developed a database to keep track of the businesses that grow and sell the drug.
But distributing and selling marijuana remain crimes under federal law. And U.S. prosecutors say they won’t give growers and sellers a get-out-of-jail-free card.
You know a lot of this I think is about the Justice Department sort of firing a shot against the bow, and saying don’t go too far.
- Ethan Nadelmann, Drug Policy Alliance
In a June 30 memo, Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole wrote that over the past year, several states have considered legislation to “authorize multiple large scale, privately-operated industrial marijuana cultivation centers. … Those who engage in transactions involving the proceeds of such activity may also be in violation of federal money laundering statutes and other federal financial laws.”
That’s fine with John Walters, who worked on the issue for President Bush.
“Many of these markets are making millions of dollars, they’re not nonprofits as they’ve been declared in other places,” Walters said. “They’re getting the marijuana from some of the same criminal mafias in Mexico that are killing people daily.”
That includes groups of criminals that ship tons of marijuana into the U.S., through secret tunnels like one authorities found last winter near San Diego. The passageway was almost a half-mile long, tricked out with electricity and special ventilation systems.
No one in the U.S. is surprised prosecutors are cracking down on those big networks. But Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance said he wonders about all the rest.
“The question’s going to be what happens with the hundreds, and it may now even be in the thousands, of dispensaries that are not operating at that large scale,” Nadelmann said.
In the past few months, the DEA has conducted smaller raids of medical marijuana shops in Seattle, West Hollywood and Helena, Montana, all places where the drug is now legal for patients.
“Who ever heard of curing a health problem with handcuffs?”
~ Neill Franklin, LEAP
By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town
On Monday the Obama Administration released its new National Drug Control Strategy for 2011 and, instead of coming through with its much-touted “shift” in drug control resources toward prevention and away from punishment, the document spends several pages disparaging the idea of legalizing and regulating substances like marijuana.
“It’s sad that the drug czar decided to insert a multi-page rant against legalizing and regulating drugs into the National Drug Control Strategy instead of actually doing his job and shifting limited resources to combat the public health problem of drug abuse,” said Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a former Baltimore narcotics cop.
“Obama administration officials continually talk about the fact that addiction is a medical problem, but when our budgets are so strained I cannot understand why they’re dumping more money into arrests, punishment and prisons than the Bush administration ever did,” Franklin said. “The fact is, once we legalize and regulate drugs, we will not only allow police to focus on stopping violent crime instead of being distracted by arresting drug users, but we will also be able to put the resources that are saved into building treatment and prevention programs that actually work.
“Who ever heard of curing a health problem with handcuffs?” Franklin asked.
The White House report goes on to slam the idea of medical marijuana specifically, even though many prominent medical organizations have pointed out that cannabis has medical value.
This comes less than a week after the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice put out a memo effectively reneging on the President’s campaign promise not to spend limited federal resources interfering in states that have legalized medical marijuana.
“With polls showing that 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana one wonders how this reversal fits into the president’s re-election strategy,” said Tom Angell, media relations director at LEAP.
Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.
by David Borden
In March 2008, candidate Obama promised not to use Dept. of Justice resources to block state medical marijuana laws. But President Obama has broken that promise:
- The Obama DOJ is raiding marijuana dispensaries at twice the rate the Bush DOJ did.
- US Attorneys have sent misleading, threatening letters to state legislatures considering dispensary laws.
- A DOJ memo sent late last month, claiming to “clarify” an earlier memo that supported states rights to medical marijuana, in fact backtracked on it. While the federal government is not targeting patients themselves, they are making it more difficult for them to obtain marijuana legally and safely.
Please write to President Obama to express your concern and disappointment over his broken promise. The future of medical marijuana depends on people like you across the country speaking up and putting pressure on the president to keep his promise to respect state medical marijuana laws – so please use our web site to send President Obama a letter today. When you’re done, please use our tell-a-friend form to spread the word. You can call the White House Comment Line on the phone too, at (202) 456-1111, to make an even greater impact.
Thank you for taking a stand. Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org for news and commentary about all aspects of the drug war. Click here for our medical marijuana archive page, or here for our medical marijuana RSS feed.
Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole issued a controversial memorandum Wednesday in an apparent attempt to clarify federal policy with regard to medical marijuana. Calling marijuana “a dangerous drug,” Cole’s memo threatened enforcement actions against “Persons who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities,” including local and state officials. The memo further underscored that “State laws or local ordinances are not a defense to civil or criminal enforcement of federal law.”
Medical marijuana advocates are decrying this new policy as a retreat from President Obama’s pledge that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws,” and from the spirit of a previous memo issued by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden in October 2009. “It is disingenuous of the Obama Administration to say it is not attacking patients while obstructing the implementation of local and state medical marijuana laws,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, the country’s largest medical marijuana advocacy group. “The president is using intimidation tactics to stop elected officials from serving their constituents, thereby pushing patients into the illicit market.”
Despite the wording of the Ogden memo that federal resources should not be used for “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana,” Cole claimed that his memo was consistent with that of his predecessor. However, patient advocates are questioning what they call glaring inconsistencies. “How are federal threats against local and state officials who are adopting public health measures warranted at any time, let alone at a time of fiscal constraint?” asked Sherer. The Cole memo rejects attempts by state governments to design laws under which medical marijuana providers could be in “clear and unambiguous compliance.”
Over the past few weeks, U.S. Attorneys have sent letters threatening public officials from at least 10 states with criminal prosecution if they implement laws regulating the production and distribution of medical marijuana. The Cole memo appeared to be an attempt to reinforce those threats. “At the same time the federal government is recognizing the rights of people living with cancer and other debilitating diseases to use medical marijuana, it is also denying them the means to obtain it legally,” continued Sherer.
Unwilling to accept this level of hostility from the federal government, patient advocates are putting energy behind a number of initiatives, including a pending petition to reschedule marijuana from its current status as a drug with no medical value, and a number of Congressional bills that aim to reduce federal restrictions on how states implement their own medical marijuana laws. “Until states and localities have the ability to adopt and enforce their own laws regarding the production and distribution of medical cannabis, federal interference will continue to undermine the rights of the very patients the Justice Department purports to recognize,” emphasized Sherer.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana for patients with physician approval. Laws regulating dispensaries exist in 10 states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont — but some states have suspended those laws as a result of federal intimidation. Notably, the states of Vermont and Delaware recently stood up to federal threats and defied such intimidation by passing laws licensing the distribution of medical marijuana.
DOJ memorandum from June 29, 2011:http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/James_Cole_memo_06_29_2011.pdf
DOJ memorandum from October , 2009: http://blogs.usdoj.gov/blog/archives/192
When President Barack Obama admitted this before he even began his campaign, Americans everywhere believed this would be the turning point for marijuana legislation. To have a person in such a high-ranking position (Obama was still a Senator when he gave this “confession”) openly admit to not only experimenting with drugs, but using it “frequently” was a big leap forward for marijuana supporters. Even more surprising was the lack of backlash on the part of the public. Previous politicians, such as Supreme Court nominee Douglas Ginsburg, received incredibly scrutiny when giving similar remarks, while others, such as former President Bill Clinton provided nonsensical answers when asked if they tried (“I didn’t like it, I didn’t inhale, and never tried it again?).
Hopes for speedier marijuana legislation increased when Obama began his Presidential campaign. Numerous promises were made, from ending raids on marijuana patients and caregivers to withdrawing federal action on states’ jurisdiction on marijuana.. Recent actions have shown that he has began to rescind many of his promises.
Earlier this month, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire vetoed a bill that would have made clear the rules for medical marijuana in the state. However, Gregoire claimed that she was not motivated by the idea of preventing the expansion of medical marijuana, but rather at letter sent by Washington’s U.S. attorneys, who stated that they would prosecute not only growers and providers of marijuana, but also the people who who “knowingly facilitate” their actions. These include state employees who would license and regulate medical marijuana suppliers.
Washington state is not alone in receiving this letter. Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont, all of whom have medical marijuana approved in their state, have been sent in recent months a similar message by their U.S. attorneys, again threatening federal prosecution for aids and facilitators of medical marijuana.
Despite Obama’s claim of a looser attitude of the federal government on state drug laws, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s stricter control directly contradicts what Obama had promised. One wonders whether federal arbitration will only increase as Obama soon heads into another election.
|Photo: Franky Benitez|
|Rep. Robert Watson likes making fun of marijuana. Oh, and smoking it.|
In the latest fine example of Republican high-pocrisy when it comes to cannabis, a high-ranking GOP legislator in Rhode Island is squirming after being charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, possession of marijuana, and possession of “drug paraphernalia.”
Photo used under a Creative Commons license with Torben Bjørn Hansen.
Those jumping into the medical marijuana business in the District include both individuals and organizations, seasoned professionals and budding entrepreneurs. But so far, there aren’t that many of them.
To date, nine letters of intent for medical marijuana dispensaries have been submitted to the D.C. Department of Health, while 11 letters have been submitted for cultivation centers – nine by individuals or groups that are also looking to run a dispensary.
The letters of intent – copies of which were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request – are the first step in gaining a license to run one of the five dispensaries and 10 cultivation centers that will grow and distribute medical marijuana to qualifying patients in the District. The letters will be followed by a lengthy and expensive application process overseen by a seven-member committee that will consider everything from security plans to ANC input before granting licenses.
The letters don’t give away much, but they provide some insight into who’s looking to get into the business of growing or dispensing medical marijuana. One potential applicant for both dispensary and cultivation center licenses touts his Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, his “green thumb” and a hobby in landscaping and design; another notes that she’s part of a minority, women-owned business operated by lifelong residents.
One group looking to run a cultivation center promotes their professional capabilities – they’ve got a “professional grower…with vast experience in all aspects related to the production and operation of a horticultural facility” on staff, not to mention an Advisory Board that includes a former police lieutenant; while another is a “well capitalized” investor that has run two cultivation centers in San Diego.
There’s a few recognizable names, including Montgomery Blair Sibley (who we interviewed last November); Adam Eidinger, the owner of the Capitol Hemp shops; and Stephenie Reifkind Khan, wife of Rabbi Jeffrey Khan, who was profiled by the City Paper last year. The names of the LLCs and organizations run the gamut from innocent to devious – there’s Hope Haven and Metropolitan Wellness Center, but also District of Cannabis Cultivation Center and Jahrock.
Only a few tease out the locations they’ve scoped out for their dispensaries and cultivation centers, which have to be at least 300 feet away from schools and youth centers. Two cultivation centers would be in Northeast, one north of Bladensburg Road, the other to the south. (Sibley has been eying a location along New York Avenue NE.) One dispensary could be along Pennsylvania Avenue SE within a block of Eastern Market, another somewhere in Ward 2. (We’ve also heard of groups scoping out spots in Adams Morgan, Takoma and Tenleytown.)
While interested parties have until June 17 to submit letters of intent to the Department of Health, the small number that have been handed in so far might well be a function of a program that will be restrictive, expensive and carefully monitored. Application costs for cultivation centers and dispensaries run $5,000 a pop, while annual fees stand at $5,000 for cultivation centers and $10,000 for dispensaries. Renewals will cost $3,000, and a rejected application will cost an applicant a full 50 percent of their application fee. Each cultivation center will only be allowed to grow 95 plants at a time, meaning that profit margins could well be very, very thin – if they exist at all.
City officials say that they’d like to have the medical marijuana program fully functioning by October, but some advocates say that it won’t likely happen until 2012.