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Humboldt County signA Look Inside The Emerald Triangle

By Kim Pacilio

With medical marijuana legal in 16 states and counting, there is little doubt that legalized medical marijuana will soon become the norm all across the United States.  And there is no better example in the entire United States of how successful and profitable medical marijuana can be then in a tiny area in Northwestern California known as the Emerald Triangle.  Tucked away in beautiful Northern California, between the Pacific Coast and the Redwood forest, the Emerald Triangle has risen to prominence in recent years and has become infamous for having some of the highest quality medical marijuana in the world.

The Emerald Triangle consists of three notorious California counties Humboldt, Mendicino and Trinity.  With a population of just 225,000 spread sparsely across this beautiful woody hills Northern California landscape, it is almost impossible to imagine that this small area of the country is one of the best areas to grow marijuana in the Northern Hemisphere.  While there aren’t many plants that will flourish in this hilly, tucked away Northern California landscape, the cool winds and the fertile soil make it an ideal place for growing cannabis.

Since the middle of the 1960’s the infamous Emerald Triangle has become a ground zero of sorts for people looking to make a comfortable living in the cannabis growing industry.  Even though growing marijuana is still illegal at the Federal level, California’s friendly medical marijuana laws enable citizens all over the Emerald Triangle to make a small fortune growing and selling marijuana.  The Marijuana trade has even become so lucrative that in most areas in the Emerald Triangle one half to 2/3 of their entire economy is based off marijuana.  With this kind of volume comes enormous profits, not to mention enormous scrutiny.

Dank Marijuana NuggetWith over 1 billion dollars funneling into the Emerald Triangle every year, it is little wonder why the government has begun to take a second and third look at the impact of medical marijuana and the legalization of pot altogether.  With the United States government in complete fiscal crisis, the $40 billion dollar a year marijuana industry could bring substantial revenue back to the government.  Legalizing marijuana would not only bring substantial tax revenue back to the state, but the government would also save an additional $13 billion a year by simply not enforcing marijuana prohibition.

Taking out marijuana from the Emerald Triangle economy would be a devastating blow not only to the local residents who rely on the growing and selling of weed to support themselves, but also to the local and state governments who rely heavily on their tax revenue.  And with new medical marijuana dispensary’s popping up all across California every day, the medical cannabis industry has become a large and integral part in California’s diverse economy.

While many Emerald Triangle citizens walk a fine line between growing marijuana legally and triggering a legal crackdown from the federal government and DEA, many Emerald Triangle growers are undeterred.  In an area still reeling from the decades long decline of the timber and manufacturing industries, marijuana has become a mainstay in the Northern California economy and a lifesaver for many Emerald Triangle residents.

Full-Court Press: Feds Go After Mendo Marijuana

 

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Photo: Ganja Farmer’s Emerald Triangle News
By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent

I love my job.

Every time I leave San Francisco for Mendocino like I did the other day, whether it’s for an interview like I had arranged or for snooping and sleuthing for an upcoming story, I get giddy. It brings out the Tom Sawyer in me.
I’m like that kid the movie, The Black Stallion, when during the climax of the big horse race he throws off his racing goggles and grabs Big Black’s mane like they are one. He rides the galloping horse like they did back on the island when it was just the two of them.

Riding like the Old Spice guy au naturel to the finish line, we, the viewers, are given a chance to relive the best of our own childhood dreams as we watch unemcumbered youth experience the pure bliss of freedom as he wins the race the old-fashioned way, without all those city contraptions like gloves, shirts and protective eyewear.
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Photo: Cannabis N.I.
​ That’s me going to Mendo. Being up there’s this sense of walking free and barefoot, even when I have to wear my tight-ass business Doc Martens.
Also, after Cloverdale going north on 101, I like to look up. When I see my first stage-diving hawk or eagle, I know I’m home.
But the other day, there were no hawks or eagles in the air. Only helicopters. Many, many helicopters. More helicopters than in L.A., on a fast news night.
Black helicopters patrolled like nosey crop-dusters or eager teenagers on Toro lawnmowers doing summer work. Going East-West in straight lines and then banking and returning to the next row over. Spotting. Observing. Looking. Inspecting.
With only one goal on the taxpayer-supported to-do list: Try to find marijuana.
I stopped for gas in Ukiah a little before 8 a.m. At the station, strapping young men like trim bodybuilders in green shorts, green khaki short-sleeved shirts with big ol’ guns, 357s or some other large-mouth pistols holstered to their sides, joked and cajoled with each other as they take hits off their Slurpees and Red Bells.
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Photo: StoptheDrugWar.org
​ A few grab coffees, smiling, making their way back to their Forest Ranger jeeps. They remind me more of Everglade bush pilots than cops. They seem too wholesome to be police.
They’re more like jocks on a road trip, piling out of a car ready and cocked, waiting for something to happen, then after a pit stop and a look around, it’s back to the two-lane blacktop.
They seem innocent enough.
But then you see they’re everywhere. There are cops catching breakfast in the restaurants and coming out of 20-room motels along the frontage roads. Official cars with patrol lights are suddenly in front of you as the pickup you were behind makes a left. Chrome-plated Hummers close you in from behind.
Before I hit the panic button, I realize I’ve entered a convoy of five or six cars and trucks on their way to somewhere.
And still, there’s more helicopters buzzing overhead.
Welcome to Operation Full-Court Press.
Four hundred agents have invaded the Emerald Triangle for at least a month or so. At first they were doing a little surgical striking north and then south and then just to confuse us, somewhere in the middle.
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Photo: Ganja Farmer’s Emerald Triangle News
​ As of this writing, it looks like they’re starting around Covelo and going north. Yesterday it was reported on radio station KMUD that there were roadblocks on 162 West with DEA and INS vehicles prominent. Seventy-seven people have been arrested. About 305,000 plants have been “confiscated.”
The official statement is they are going after the growers who illegally raise marijuana in our national forest. They will leave the permitted growers who are following Mendocino’s 9.31 alone. All of us agree this is a good thing.
The other major counties like Trinity and Humboldt are adopting the same policy of leaving the local growers who are quietly doing their own thing, while going after the more transient growers.
But everyone knows they’re going after the Mexicans in the mountainous country.
From what is being gossiped about, there’s some heavy profiling going on in Norte California. All press releases make it clear that this “concerted effort” between multiple governmental law enforcement agencies has the main objective of going after only organized growers with their massive outdoor industrial grows who have been shooting at and scaring the straights who have the bad luck to go too deep into the woods.
Again, the locals agree this is a good thing. Plus, the price of marijuana should go up.
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Photo: Felipe Buitrago/Metroactive
​ Even so, some of the locals are getting very nervous and stressed with the helicopters strafing the compound, looking for illegal grows. The best the legitimate grower can do is pain a 4×8 sheet of plywood with his or her permit numbers, so when Sky King’s looking for the bad guys, they leave Ma and Pa Kush alone.
This still doesn’t satisfy some of the local fears.
One grower complained of paying the $85 per permit and still having to live under this scrutiny as the climate changes concerning the growing of marijuana.
“I went to the Sheriff’s Office and paid my money for permits, which is kinda like taxes and kinda like blood money,” my bandana-wearing source said. “But I did it because that’s what needs to happen on our side for change to occur.
“Now the Feds are here,” he said. “It feels like they’re taking over the town.”
Do you worry that the Feds will go to the Sheriff’s Office to get a list of growers who have come forward?
“No, Sheriff Allman told us that wouldn’t happen,” the grower assured me.
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Photo: USA Today
​ “Right now, the Sheriff is stuck between us and that very hard rock called the Feds,” he said. “The Sheriff lives here. The Feds are like the growers they’re trying to catch. They’ll be here for a month or two, then leave. It is Sheriff Allman that is left to keep the peace. And because the Feds don’t understand the culture up here… Let’s just say things are going to be tense before they’re better.”
Another legitimate grower chalked up the whole operation — the Feds, the tension — to the cost of doing business in Mendo.
A gentleman in his 60s with a silver ponytail wrapped in leather laughed at the other locals who were getting upset with the flyovers and the heavy police presence.
“It’s the cost of doing business up here,” he said. “There’s nothing illegal about hating marijuana. Some cops and most of the Feds hate marijuana. But you’ll see the pendulum swings wildly one way and then slowly, it starts to swing to the other side. That is the way it is up here.”
You don’t seem too worried.
“Today it’s the Feds. Come the middle of September, beginning of October, the rip-offs come. When it starts getting close to harvest… time to start sleeping in my grow, locked and loaded.”
You’re pretty serious when it comes to guns and intruders?
“We don’t give warning shots up here. We don’t give the courtesy over-the-head warning.”
Really?
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Photo: Cannabis Culture
​ “Naw, that’s the way it was maybe five years ago, maybe even three,” the old coot continued. “See, that’s what the Feds don’t understand. If I have someone trying to steal my crop, now, I call 9-1-1. I call the cops. It wasn’t that long ago that we shot to kill. See, stealing is stealing, to us and the cops.
“Last year in Laytonville, a couple of kids — that’s who most of your unsophisticated robbers are, kids through about 24, y’know, stupid kids trying to get rich quick. These kids try to rob a Mom and Pop. A small local garden with white picket fence at the end of someone’s road.
“Well they come into these folks’ living room with a pellet gun… I can’t really remember, maybe it was as big as a .22. One kid shoots the husband in the leg with his toy gun while the wife grabs the Dirty Harry and blows the kid away in her living room with a .357. Cops came and left just as quick, saying it was justified.”
It seems better for the community to not have the frontier justice kind of retribution that you’ve had up here for the past half century.
“That’s what the Feds don’t get,” the veteran grower said. “This isn’t Iowa. This isn’t Virginia. It’s Mendo. We’re changing. We’re trying to become more law-abiding citizens. I don’t know what they have against us.”
Sitting in hand-carved wooden chairs in the hot sun in front of his cabin, we listen to the clamoring birds in the trees and the rotor blades slicing the air as helicopters migrate above us.
“But it’s like Buddha says, this too shall pass.” The old man’s eyes traced the copters as they fly out of sight over the mountains as they go north to their next observational gig.
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Photo: Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town correspondent Jack Rikess blogs from the Haight in San Francisco.

Collateral Damage in the Marijuana Wars: Patients Who Travel

Collateral Damage in the Marijuana Wars: Patients Who Travel

July 27, 2011

Cannabis

Marijuana patients are being detained and/or arrested at airports and in their cars for transporting their medical Cannabis.  To a patient, or any rational person, the intent of the law seems clear, which is to allow a patient to travel with their medicine, whether Oxycontin or Cannabis. Unfortunately, the Hawaii`i Narcotics Enforcement Division (NED), police, prosecutors and at least some judges don’t see it that way, and they are enforcing the law as harshly as they can.

The issue of inter-island travel is important for Big Island residents, as we make up about 60% of medical Cannabis patients state-wide. Almost all major medical procedures (chemotherapy, surgery, dental work, etc.) take place on Oahu, and without dispensaries, patients must smuggle their medicine, take risks buying it on the black market, or do without it.

In my own personal experience, back in 2007 I talked to a TSA agent at Kona airport, who informed me that I could either declare the Cannabis at the beginning, or pack it, and then produce my “blue card” if they found it. I decided to see what would happen. I put my medicine, pipe, grinder and lighter in an opaque (hemp) bag, placed my blue card on top, placed it in a coin tray and then onto the conveyor belt. It passed through, and I picked things up on the other end…I was shocked, surprised and thrilled! On the return leg, I put the kit into my carry-on bag on the top. Again, it sailed through the x-ray machine without incident. I tried the same thing on two more trips to Oahu during 2007, all with the same result.

Then, on Christmas Day 2007 on my way to Oahu to visit a friend, the world had changed. The TSA staff all looked like they had just arrived from the mainland, they ignored the “blue card” and pulled me out of line. They called airport security, which is really all they can do. The rent-a-cop threatened me with arrest and said the DEA would be taking me away in hand cuffs. The “DEA” never showed up, so the rent-a-cop confiscated my medicine and let me catch my flight. The following day a Hawai’i County vice squad officer called me and asked that I come in for questioning. I was actually going off island, and told the officer I would call when I returned, as I wanted to have a lawyer with me. The officer said fine, and that was the last I heard about it.

In the ensuing few years I had often received second hand accounts of similar events, but never spoke directly to patients who had gone though a similar experience. It has only been in the past year that I have been able to finally talk with others, and learn what exactly has been going on. The following is based on six patients, all of whom had problems on the Big Island. I think it very likely this happens on other islands, but I have not been able to confirm it.

The Federal government does not own the airports, and is not in charge of security at them. The TSA is indeed a Federal agency, but they do not have the power to arrest anyone. Their main concern is things that will bring harm to the aircraft or passengers, such as guns, knives and bombs. They can pull someone out of line for other contraband, but all they can do is detain the person, and call for LOCAL law enforcement. There is also a Federal Aviation Administration regulation (91.19) which allows for carriage of marijuana if…”authorized by or under any Federal or State statute or by any Federal or State agency.” (see attached)

There are private security guards at each check point, and although they carry guns, they are unable to arrest anyone. They are usually retired law enforcement officers, and while some are nice, others are not. They may threaten you, or try to get free information, but you are under no obligation to tell them anything. They will contact the police or sheriff.

Thus far, the police have been releasing patients caught with small quantities of medicine (but of course they confiscate it) and arresting those with larger amounts. The patients being released are charged later by the Hawai’i County Prosecuting Attorney. So, despite all the “Federal government controls the airports” rhetoric, every patient (thus far) has been charged and tried in Hawai’i state court, not Federal. (There’s also the 10th Amendment, in which states are not required to enforce Federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by Federal law.)

Attached (here, here and here) is a copy of a memo from the Alameda County Corporation Counsel to the Sheriff’s Department, which oversees security at Oakland International Airport. It directs the Sheriff to follow California state law if they encounter a patient traveling with medicine and a valid recommendation. I understand that similar procedures are followed at San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles airports, but I have not seen anything in writing. I have tried to get Hawai’i County Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida to issue a similar memo, but he has simply referred me back to the Narcotics Enforcement Division, who of course stonewalled me. Ms. Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, the director of the Department of Public Safety has also refused to help out.

Patients with less than one ounce have been charged with “promotion of a detrimental drug in the 3rd degree” and those with more than one ounce have been charged in the 2nd degree. For some reason, the Hawai’i Revised Statutes uses the term “promotion of” to include/mean “possession.” Promotion in the 3rd degree, a petty misdemeanor, has a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail, and the trial is before a judge, not a jury. The maximum sentence in 2nd degree cases is one year, and is eligible for a trial by a jury of one’s peers. (But, thus far, no case has gone before a jury.)

The Hawai’i Medical Cannabis Program was passed in 2000, and was the first one done by a state legislature (California’s Prop 215 had been passed by voters in 1996). Although the intent of the legislature would seem clear, the law is poorly written and is being interpreted and enforced in the narrowest possible way, to the detriment of patients state-wide.

The argument being made by the prosecutors (and NED) and which was upheld in Judge Florendo’s court in Kona is as follows. The first part of the law (329-121) defines the “medical use” of marijuana to include the “transportation of.” The second part of the law (329-122) defines where you cannot have “medical use” of marijuana, which includes any “other place open to the public.” The law itself makes no distinction between using (smoking) and simply transporting it. (And, in these cases, the medicine was not open to the public until the TSA pulled it into view.)

There were two cases in Hilo that were dismissed by Judge Takase, who ruled that the law was so vague, no one (patients, police or prosecutors) could properly interpret it. The Hawai’i County Prosecuting Attorney has appealed the ruling. The defendant who was found guilty by Judge Florendo is also appealing. The ACLU has joined the fray and submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the patients. A ruling is expected eventually (it may take one year.). Perhaps the loser will appeal to the state Supreme Court, and it may take even longer to get a final, clear interpretation.

The narrow interpretation is also being applied to patients transporting their medicine in cars, and in effect restricts a patient to being at home (or going to/from their caregiver). This is unreasonable and unacceptable, and we will continue to work to find a remedy.

If you are a patient and are traveling by car, my advice is to put your medicine in the trunk. (If you don’t have a trunk, then lock it in the glove box.) Also, do not smoke in your car.

Finally, know your rights. There are two excellent DVDs produced by the group Flex Your Rights (www.flexyourrights.org): “Busted” and “10 Rules for Dealing with Police” (which is newer). There are free versions on YouTube or you can order them on line. Know your rights and try to exert them. It may come down to your word against that of the police officer, but you must know what to expect, and these videos are worth watching.

If you are a patient and have been detained, arrested and/or prosecuted for traveling with your medicine (either in your car or at the airport) I would like to hear from you. Please contact me at: bigislandsafeaccess@gmail.com

White House Report Acknowledges Few Scientists Permitted To Assess Cannabis Use In Humans

medical marijuana blog

Only fourteen researchers in the United States are legally permitted to conduct research assessing the effect of inhaled cannabis in human subjects, according to data included in the White House’s 2011 National Drug Control Strategy, released last week.

In a section of the report entitled ‘Medical Marijuana,’ the administration states, “In the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has approved 109 researchers to perform bona fide research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, and marijuana derivatives such as cannabidiol and cannabinol.” However, it later clarifies that of these 109 scientists, only fourteen “are approved to conduct research with smoked marijuana on human subjects.”

Among those scientists licensed to work with either cannabis or its constituents — primarily in animal models — most are involved in research to assess the drug’s “abuse potential, physical/psychological effects, [and] adverse effects,” the report stated.

In 2010, a spokesperson for the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — the federal agency that must approve any US clinical trial involving marijuana – told the New York Times: “[O]ur focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use. We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”

NormlEarlier this month, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart denied a nine-year-old petition seeking to initiate hearings regarding the federal classification of cannabis as a schedule I substance, stating in part, “[T]here are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy.”

Commenting on the report, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Only in an environment of absolute criminal prohibition would this or any administration purport to the public that it is acceptable to allow no more than fourteen researchers to clinically study a substance consumed by tens of millions of Americans for therapeutic or recreational purposes. This acknowledgement illustrates once again the administration’s supposed commitment to ‘scientific integrity’ does not apply to cannabis.”

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director at: paul@norml.org.

Tell the DEA: Stop the Lies

So I’ve really been thinking a lot lately about what the purpose of HMJ should be. I love the site, I love the name, I love the amazing team we have, and of course I LOVE the Greenies. If it wasn’t for you guys I would have closed this site down a long time ago and I still get emails from people just to say they fuck with us. That motivates me (hint hint) but I’m going to stay on topic. We should be about more than just looking at girls smoking and bongs.

I want us to really make a difference when it comes to legalization. Imagine a world where you could stand outside anywhere and smoke without having to look over your shoulder or feel like a criminal. Imagine not having to hide the fact that you enjoy something as natural as eating fruit. Imagine a world where we don’t have to watch our friends and family suffer from illnesses that can easily be treated with marijuana. This is a serious issue and a serious time in our existence.

We just found out the DEA is REALLY serious about not working with us on this marijuana legalization movement but I’m not trying to hear that. I’ve found a petition where we can send a message directly to the DEA Administrator, Michele Leonhart. I am not someone who would tell you guys to do something that I wouldn’t do so I sent a message in as well. You also have the option to donate to Drug Policy Alliance but you are not required to.

With the elections coming up and all of these issues really being discussed for the first time, trust and believe that HMJ and the Greenies will be a part of the movement.

Click Here To Let Michele Leonhart know how you feel

http://www.hailmaryjane.com

Marijuana Advocates Sue Feds After DEA Rejects Weed as Medicine

PHOTO: Medical marijuana and a prescription are pictured in this undated file photo.
Medical marijuana and a prescription are pictured in this undated file photo. (Getty Images)
By COURTNEY HUTCHISON, ABC News Medical Unit
July 12, 2011

Without medical marijuana, Scott Rozman swears, he wouldn’t be alive today.

At 30, Rozman was the youngest documented case of teratoma and angiosarcoma, a rare and aggressive cancer that his doctors treated in the middle of his chest with equally aggressive rounds of chemotherapy. The chemo was so intense that he would throw up 40 to 50 times a day during treatment, unable to keep any food down. He lost 60 pounds during the first two months alone, making him potentially too weak to finish out his treatment

“The doctors thought I was a dead man,” Rozman, now 46 and a life coach in Guttenberg, N.J., said.

But then Mary Jane came into his life.

As a last-ditch effort, his doctors prescribed him marijuana because of its purported ability to stave off chemotherapy nausea. Not only was he able to keep food down again, the marijuana calmed him and helped him cope psychologically with the harrowing experience of the chemotherapy sessions. Weed had done for Rozman what no traditional anti-nausea medication could.

Although 16 states recognize marijuana as a drug with important medicinal properties, the DEA has shot down a petition to reclassify marijuana as such, citing that it has “no accepted medical use.” The result is that marijuana will remain within the strictest categorization of restricted substances, alongside heroin and LSD.

“As a doctor and medical researcher, I find the DEA’s decision unfortunate,” said Dr. Igor Grant, a neuropsychiatrist and director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California-San Diego. “It looks like they underplayed what positive information there is in the literature about marijuana. This policy is guided more by certain kinds of beliefs in the dangers of marijuana, at the expense of advance of medical knowledge for patients.”

The DEA’s refusal, laid out in a June 21 letter from DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart to the organizations who filed the petition back in 2002, marks yet another bump in the road for patients, doctors and activists fighting for improved access to what they deem a vitally therapeutic medication.

“The statement ‘it has no accepted medical use‘ is simply wrong as a statement of fact,” said Rob MacCoun, psychologist and professor of Law and Public Policy at University of California Berkeley Law School. “There is now considerable evidence showing medical benefits, at or exceeding standards of evidence for many other pharmaceuticals. Prescribing physicians in over a dozen states clearly see an accepted medical value for their patients.”

Americans for Safe Access, one of the organizations petitioning the DEA, already has plans to appeal the decision, taking the federal government to court, and if necessary, the Supreme Court, in order to argue for the medicinal value of marijuana.

“Frankly, we’re ready to go head to head with the Obama administration on this issue,” said Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access. “We have science on our side and we’re hopeful the court will see it that way.”

Calls made to the DEA for comment were not returned.

Why Reclassify?

The original petition sent to the DEA in 2002 called for reclassifying marijuana into schedule III, IV, or V, all of which would acknowledge its potential for medical use and place its threat as a potentially harmful and/or addictive substance as less severe than class I and II drugs such as heroine, cocaine, amphetamines and morphine.

Such a change means that marijuana would remain a controlled substance, but that its use in medical contexts would not be considered illegal under federal law, as is the case now.

It would also make it easier for studies on marijuana’s medicinal properties to take place. Grant of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research said that even with federal compliance with his research on medicinal marijuana, each study takes at least a year to even garner approval because of all the regulatory red tape surrounding use of a schedule I drug in trials.

Berkeley’s MacCoun said, “Schedule I is a barrier to research and to physician practice. Under federal law, it precludes physician prescriptions, putting state and federal laws in conflict for [those] states that have legalized medical marijuana.”

War on Medicinal Marijuana?

The DEA’s decision comes on the coattails of another move by the Department of Justice to reinforce federal restrictions on marijuana. U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole released a memo June 29 that reaffirms the department of justice’s right and intention to prosecute large-scale medical marijuana cultivation operations and dispensaries even in states where they are operating in compliance with state laws.

The Cole memo purportedly “clarifies” the landmark memo written in 2009 by then Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, which suggested that the DOJ would not bother to prosecute those involved in state-sanctioned medicinal marijuana distribution. 

Cole’s clarification puts everyone from growers to pro-medicinal marijuana public officials within the DOJ’s sights for prosecution. Only patients with prescriptions escape possible legal action from the government.

This regulatory dance emerges because the states that allow medicinal marijuana are in conflict with the federal drug laws that criminalize possession of marijuana, regardless of its intended use and these federal laws trump those of the states.

Obama campaigned with the promise not to interfere with states’ rights in this area, so the Cole memo has been seen by marijuana advocates as the administration’s backpedalling in response to the rapid proliferation of cannabis providers and distributors cropping up in recent years.

“The government’s position is very clear,” Hermes said. “The number of raids on medical marijuana distributors is staggering, far beyond what the Bush administration was doing. And because the federal government won’t acknowledge marijuana as a medicinal substance, those arrested have absolutely no defense they can bring in federal court.”

Hermes said be believes the “whole point” of the Cole memo was to create a “culture of fear” among growers, distributors, and patients.

Mitch Woolhiser, 43, happens to be all three. Diagnosed with seizure disorder in 1995, the medicinal marijuana distributor from Edgewater, Colo., got his prescription after reading studies suggesting that marijuana has anti-seizure properties.

He was able to wean himself slowly off the seizure meds that were straining his liver and today, years later, is seizure free. Now he provides medicinal-grade marijuana for at least 100 regular customers in the Denver area.

“The Ogden memo kind of opened the floodgates here in Colorado and that’s what brought people into the industry of distributing marijuana, including me,” he said. “It’s very regulated, we do lab tests for THC levels [the major active compound in cannabis] and that makes everything more regulated for the patients.

“But if you go after the distributors, you’re really just hurting the patients,” he said. “You’re taking away their ability to safely and conveniently get their medicine, and instead pushing them to buy it on the street.”

OBAMA says Marijuana has no medicinal pourposes !

OC– Any hope that President Obama, a legendary pot smoker back at Occidental College in the late 1970s, might reclassify marijuana as a drug that has medicinal value just went up in smoke.

Nine years ago, for the third time since marijuana was prohibited more than a half-century ago, medical marijuana supporters led by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) asked the federal government to reclassify cannabis so that it’s not listed alongside heroin as a purely dangerous narcotic. Today, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) responded with a resounding “Yeah, right. What are you smoking?”

As negative as it is, the fact that the government finally rejected the petition is being called a victory of sorts by medical pot backers. For one thing, according to an LA Times story today, they had to go to a federal court to force the DEA to even respond at all. And now that the answer is no, they get to appeal the decision without further prevarication.

“We have foiled the government’s strategy of delay, and we can now go head-to-head on the merits, that marijuana really does have therapeutic value,” Joe Elford, an ASA lawyer, told the Times. Elford added that he wasn’t surprised by the decision given recent signs that the Obama administration, despite promising not to go after medical pot patients, had no such qualms about prosecuting large-scale marijuana growers.

“It is clearly motivated by a political decision that is anti-marijuana,” he said. Elford argued that despite the DEA’s stance, there is little debate nowadays that cannabis provides relief to cancer patients and other people struggling with terminal illness and chronic pain. “One of the things people say about marijuana is that it gives you the munchies and the truth is that it does, and for some people that’s a very positive thing.”

Although Elford said ASA plans to appeal the DEA’s decision, the odds aren’t looking good for such a tactic: the last two times the government refused to reclassify marijuana, the appeals failed in the courts

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