Posts Tagged ‘fed raids’

Obama Still Targeting Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

In 2009, the Obama Administration announced a new federal policy regarding marijuana in states in which medical marijuana has been legalized. The policy statement instructed federal prosecutors not to devote federal resources to prosecuting those who use or supply medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law. At the time, Ilya and I praised the new policy, though Ilya was quite skeptical it would make much difference.

Since the policy it was announced, it appears the policy has been difficult to maintain, and prosecutions of medical marijuana distributors has continued, largely because the federal government fears that some marijuana distributors are serving more than the medicinal marijuana market. As the NYT reports, federal prosecutors appear to be escalating efforts to go after marijuana distributors in medical marijuana states.

As some states seek to increase regulation but also further protect and institutionalize medical marijuana, federal prosecutors are suddenly asserting themselves, authorizing raids and sending strongly worded letters that have cast new uncertainty on an issue that has long brimmed with tension between federal and state law. . . .

Letters so far have gone out to governors in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, prompting some states — including Rhode Island and Montana, in addition to Washington — to revise or back away from plans to make the medical marijuana industry more mainstream.

In Washington, Ms. Gregoire asked for guidance from the state’s two United States attorneys, Mike Ormsby and Jenny Durkan. In a reply to the governor last month, they said the federal government would prosecute “vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law.”

The changes have angered supporters of medical marijuana, who say the federal government is sending mixed signals, even as they argue that it has not technically changed its position.

The Justice Department claims there has been no change in policy. Marijuana has remained illegal under federal law, and prosecutors have continued to pursue larger and more conspicuous dispensaries without much regard for state law, prompting increasing conflict with state officials. In the meantime, state level efforts to decriminalize medical marijuana continue apace. There’s now talk of a ballot initiative here in Ohio. So the federal state tension will continue.

Is there a better way? Yes, but it would be difficult to implement without legislation. Here’s what I suggested in 2009:

The Justice Department has to set prosecutorial priorities, as there are more federal crimes on the books than federal prosecutors can ever hope to prosecute. The aim should be to focus federal resources in those areas where there is a distinct federal interest, or where the federal government has a comparative advantage of state and local law enforcement. Where federal law conflicts with state law, prohibiting activities state laws allowed, federal efforts should still focus on those instances of alleged lawbreaking where there is a distinct federal interest, including spillover effects on neighboring jurisdictions.

The federal government has a legitimate interest in controlling interstate drug trafficking, but no particular interest in prosecuting those who seek to provide medical marijuana to local residents pursuant to state law. So it only makes sense for the Justice Department to tell federal prosecutors to focus their efforts on those who are not in compliance with state law, such as those who use medical marijuana distribution as a cover for other illegal activities, interstate drug trafficking in particular. California should be free to set its own marijuana policy, but the federal government retains an interest in preventing California’s choice from adversely affecting neighboring states.

Ideally, the federal government would treat marijuana like alcohol, retaining a federal role in controlling illegal interstate trafficking but leaving each state entirely free to set its own marijuana policy, whether it be prohibition, decriminalization, or somewhere in between.

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/obama-still-targeting-medical-marijuana-dispensaries

Feds raid medical marijuana facility, 2 other Oakland County properties

Federal agents raided at least three properties in Oakland County this morning.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents were at Caregivers of America, a medicinal marijuana facility in Walled Lake, a home in Commerce Township and an office building in Novi.

DEA Group supervisor Andrew Eiseman said sealed federal search warrants were executed at all three locations, but few other details were released.

He would not say why the warrants were issued or provide more details about the investigation. He did not say if any arrests have been made and would not comment on whether the raids were connected.

The home raided is located in the 3300 block of Benstein Road and is owned by Romel and Ban Casab, according to the Oakland County Assessor’s Office. Romel Casab has said in a lawsuit that he is one of the owners of the former Packard plant in Detroit.

A neighbor who lives across the street from the home said she first saw agents at the home shortly after 7 a.m. today. A black convertible was taken out of the garage and driven out before it was towed away, neighbor Annette Winberg, 66, said. Another car was also taken, she said.

About 10 agents were at the home this morning with four or five cars when a Free Press reporter arrived.

The medicinal marijuana facility in Walled Lake is located at 1020 Decker Road. Walled Lake assessor records say it is owned by 1020 Decker LLC. The assessor’s office said it sends the company’s tax bills to a suite on West 12 Mile Road in Novi. The DEA confirmed that agents were also at the location on 12 Mile this morning executing a search warrant.

Calls to Caregivers of America and to the Commerce Township home were not returned. A woman at the home in Commerce Township declined to talk to a Free Press reporter.

The DEA is working with the Oakland County Sheriff’s office on the raid.

http://www.freep.com/article/20110412/NEWS03/110412028/Feds-raid-medical-marijuana-facility-2-other-Oakland-County-properties

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