Posts Tagged ‘regulate marijuana’

Who Benefits From Obama’s Reefer Maddness?

Defending its crack-down on legal medical marijuana dealers, the DEA has disingenuously declared that pot is an ineffective treatment for pain. But over at the FDA, the first painkiller made from cannabis is sailing toward approval.
Obama seems to want to have it both ways: Weed has medical benefits, but then again it doesn’t; it’s as dangerous as heroin, but safe enough to give to sick patients in medical experiments. Whose interests are being served here, and who’s getting the shaft?
It’s hard to deny claims by critics that the president has largely given the shaft to advocates of medical marijuana. Hitting the re-election trail this week, Obama had to duck a question about his record on pot-for-pain at a Minnesota town hall meeting, leaving unresolved—after more than two and a half years—his campaign promise to respect the right of patients to make decisions about their own care. Instead his administration has pursued a confused two-pronged policy: allowing Big Pharma unimpeded license to pursue the profitable medical marijuana market, while threatening thousands of patients using state-licensed cannabis with federal intervention and even arrest.
Critics liken Obama’s cannabis conundrum to the way he dealt with the financial crisis—bailing out Wall Street while leaving millions of homes on Main Street to fall into foreclosure. If this sounds like too harsh a condemnation of a president that rabid Republicans have done nothing but hate on, try making sense of recent developments in federal medical-marijuana policy.
Back in March, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) exercised its emergency authority to outlaw the use of five “fake” marijuana products like Spice and K2. “These products consist of plant materials that have been coated with research chemicals that claim to mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops and over the Internet,” the DEA said in a prepared statement.
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Should Marijuana Be Regulated Like Alcohol or Tobacco?

The marijuana legalization debate has gained a whole new momentum ever since the economy took a dip. Cities, counties, and states are cash strapped, and see their budgets dwindled with every revenue report. This has obviously been horrible for the job market, but it has been a big factor in converting citizen’s and politician’s opinions towards marijuana legalization. I remember when it was just consumers and sympathizers that were calling for legalization. Now, even some staunch conservatives are looking into the idea. They don’t consume marijuana at all, but are all about taxing the S out of it. I hope it doesn’t result in marijuana being taxed to death before it gets off the ground, but hopefully we can win that battle after we win legalization.


A question that has been popping up on TWB lately is whether or not marijuana should be regulated like the tobacco industry, or the alcohol industry. I just posted an article this week about regulating marijuana like wine, which is a revolutionary idea, but I am still waiting to see how much traction it gets. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea, but I’m just not sure about the logistics of the campaign strategy. More will obviously be known as 2012 approaches. But for the sake of this article, we will look at the alcohol industry, and the tobacco industry.


When most people think about marijuana legalization, they picture the regulations being like that of the tobacco industry. After all, you smoke both tobacco and marijuana, right? Just as someone goes to the local corner market to get a pack of cigs, they would be able to get a pack of Camel greens or Marlboro danks. I have long pointed out the difficulties of such a business model. For starters, marijuana is not like the tobacco plant. Tobacco can grow from the Carolinas to the Caribbean and for the most part, the quality will only variate slightly. A tobacco farmer would argue that there is distinct differences, but let’s get serious, it’s not nearly on the same level as marijuana cultivation.


Cultivating and selling marijuana on the same scale as tobacco is nearly impossible, unless it was grown entirely indoors by a large company, which is unrealistic. All of the football stadiums in the country couldn’t house the amount of marijuana plants that the market would require if it were legal and sold by a big tobacco company. It would have to be cultivated outside, year round, on a very large scale if it were done by just a handful of large companies. This is also unrealistic. Marijuana can vary from room to room inside of a house, let alone outdoors.


Outdoor marijuana plants that grow in the State of Jefferson (Southern Oregon, Northern California) are going to be starkly different than plants that are grown in Pennsylvania. For that matter, even outdoor grow ops in the State of Jefferson are not all created equal. It would be too hard, if not impossible, to market so many kinds of marijuana the same way as cigarettes. Right now you go into a store and there are just a handful of types of cigarettes. There are different brands, but the type of actual cigarette you can buy is fairly limited. Compare that with a dispensary, that has in some cases hundreds of strains. That’s a big reason why corporate America hasn’t harnessed the cannabis market; it’s just too hard to get a consistency that it would take to launch the industry on a huge scale.


And with all of that being said, would we really want those blood sucking bastards in charge of the marijuana industry? Look at what they have done to society with their research and development already. Can you imagine what they would do to marijuana to make it super addictive? It wouldn’t even be marijuana anymore; the product would be some Frankenstein herb that is meant to take your dollars instead of providing comfort, recreation, and relief. Marijuana is a cottage industry, and I really hope it stays that way forever. I love going to different areas and seeing what their stuff is like. If it was just bland budget weed sold across the nation, it would really make me sad.


I picture some slick talking tobacco executives sitting down with members of Congress. The executives explain that they can grow marijuana on an enormous scale, that it would all be under the close watch of the government, and that they can provide tax dollars out the wazoo. They give the politicians large sums of money in exchange for marijuana becoming legal. On the surface, marijuana consumers are stoked because the marijuana plant is finally free. They don’t care how it happened, they just know that they have been waiting for this for a long time. It will only be after they see what big tobacco has done to the beloved marijuana plant that they realize the whole thing was f’d since jump street.


The alcohol industry is a better representation of what I think marijuana regulations will look like after legalization. There will still be large companies trying to corner the industry, much like Budweiser and Coors do today. However, there will also be a large cottage community producing marijuana, like the micro brew industry. Large companies will produce massive quantities of low grade product, much like Coors and Budweiser do with their beer. But, people that actually like flavor and quality will go for the cottage industry products, much like people go for a micro brew. Instead of making regulations to cater to the top companies, regulations will be more flexible to accommodate the small businesses. There will be more wiggle room for entrepreneurs to enter into the market as a result, and consumers will benefit from the buffet of deliciousness that will result.

I think the big debate that people run into when they get into this conversation is not necessarily the regulation structure for large and small businesses, so much as the age requirement. If marijuana is regulated like tobacco, it would have an 18 or older age requirement. Of course, if marijuana is regulated like alcohol, it would have an age requirement of 21 or older. Again, marijuana is smoked, so people naturally gravitate toward the 18 year old requirement. However, marijuana is an intoxicating substance, so this has to be considered. Marijuana doesn’t impair a person nearly as much as alcohol (unless they are a total rookie), so I personally think that an ‘in-between’ age would be sufficient. Whether that is 19 or 20, I will let the policy makers decide. Somewhere there is a recently graduated high school student praying that it is 19 instead of 20 – my prayers are will you buddy! I remember what it was like to be too young before I got too old to be hip ha ha.

What do TWB readers think? I know there will be a bunch of you that say ‘it should have NO regulations!’ That would be great in a perfect world, but politics is an incremental game, and getting a grand slam straight out the gate might be asking for two much. We are going to have to give a little in order to get what we want in return. With that in mind, what is an appropriate age to start consuming marijuana legally? Would you prefer that large companies get into the movement in order to speed up legalization? Or do we want to keep those fascists out in order to keep things pure, even though it might take an extra election or two as a result? Do you want marijuana to be regulated more like tobacco, or alcohol, or something else, like grapes!? I look forward to the discussion.

Here’s Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense

Guest editorial: Here’s why legalizing marijuana makes sense
By Alex Newhouse

For the Yakima Herald-Republic

The call to legalize cannabis continues to grow louder despite all of the other problems our country is currently facing. Mainstream polls indicate almost 50 percent of Americans favor full-out legalization, and nearly 80 percent believe that marijuana should be available for medicinal purposes.

No one has ever died from simply using marijuana. In 1972, then-President Richard Nixon appointed the Shafer Commission to study the nation’s rising drug problem. It reported the following: “Neither the marihuana [sic] user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety.” The commission’s findings have withstood the test of time.

The more we learn about marijuana, the more benign it becomes. Marijuana does not cause cancer. Sound scientific studies, such as those done by UCLA’s Dr. Donald Tashkin, have clearly demonstrated this. We also know that marijuana is legitimate medicine. If marijuana has no medicinal benefit, why are so many terminally ill patients turning to it to improve their quality of life? Why, after countless legislative hearings and initiatives, have 16 states and our nation’s capital legalized marijuana for medicinal use? And why does an expensive prescription drug called Marinol, which is a synthetic form of the active ingredient in marijuana, exist? Even the federal government owns a patent for the medicinal use of marijuana. (The patent number is 6630507.)

Marijuana is medicine to many people. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s own administrative law judge, Francis L. Young, held that “marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.” Studies done by the California Center for Medical Cannabis Research and the recent breakthroughs highlighting the antibacterial properties of cannabis extracts also clearly demonstrate marijuana’s potential as a natural and inexpensive medicine.

Unlike most medicines, it is quite safe for marijuana to be used recreationally by responsible and healthy adults. According to the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, over 100 million Americans have tried or use marijuana. If this market were taxed and regulated, crime rates would go down and agriculturally based communities would profit. We easily forget how much disrespect for the law vanished when alcohol prohibition was repealed, or that well over 30,000 Mexican citizens have died since 2006 as a direct result of a drug war fueled in large part by demand for marijuana, or that the U.S. has spent approximately a trillion dollars and 100,000 lives on a drug war that could be reined in considerably with marijuana legalization.

Regulating marijuana would also protect our children. It is easier for kids today to get marijuana than it is for them to get alcohol or tobacco, which is a fact supported by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Drug dealers simply do not ask for ID. Regulation would also lessen the burden on the criminal justice system, making it easier to keep violent criminals behind bars. Washington currently has mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana possession, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports more people are being court-ordered into treatment for marijuana than ever before under threat of incarceration. This is a huge waste of resources.

The legalization movement is not about persuading people to use marijuana, but for giving the sick and responsible the liberty to consume a relatively benign product. Proposed policies within the spirit of the movement are worthy of our consideration.


* Alex Newhouse is a lawyer who lives in the Sunnyside area.

Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act Of 2012

regulate cannabis like wineThis is the language from the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine webpage:

Section 1. Findings, Declarations, Purpose, Directives, and Orders

Section 11362.95 is added to the Health and Safety Code:

11362.95. This section shall be known as and may be cited as the “Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012,” known hereinafter as the “Act.”

(a) The People of the State of California find and declare all of the following:

(1) Outlawing marijuana has not reduced its availability and has resulted in making it easier for minors to acquire. Adults 21 years and older are responsible to use and cultivate marijuana, and should not be subject to sanctions or criminal penalties.

(2) Marijuana is an untapped revenue source for the State of California, and that the best way to tap into that source for the benefit of all Californians is to tax and regulate it.

(3) The regulation of marijuana will benefit the People of the State of California by reducing criminal gang and cartel activity, promoting agriculture, creating jobs by creating a new hemp industry in the State of California, and reducing the fiscal and overpopulation burdens on courts, jails, and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

(b) This Act does the following:

(1) Amends California Health and Safety Code sections 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11366, 11366.5, 11469, et seq., 11485, Vehicle Code section 23222(b), and all other statutes that restrict or prohibit persons 21 years and older and/or qualifying business entities, from all activities approved herein; such that persons 21 years or older, and approved business entities, shall no longer be prohibited from the use, possession, trade, packaging, gifting, sales, distribution, storage, transportation, production, or cultivation of marijuana. All said statutes state, Òexcept as authorized by law,Ó and this section, notwithstanding any contrary statute or provision, provides exceptions.

(2) Marijuana, THC, and CBD explicitly and/or by inference, are removed from Health and Safety Code section 11054.

(3) This act does not control, repeal, modify, or change statutes pertaining to:

(A) Operating a motor vehicle;

(B) Using marijuana or being impaired in the workplace or public nonsmoking areas;

(C) Providing, transferring, use, possession, cultivation, processing, sales, distribution, transporting, or storing on premises of marijuana to or by persons under 21 years of age;

(D) Medical marijuana statutes as set forth in Proposition 215 (H&S11362.5) and its progeny.

(4) Amends statutes that criminalize the use, possession, cultivation, processing, transportation, storage, distribution, gifting and/or selling of marijuana in any form, or method of ingestion by persons 21 years of age or older. Legalizes all such for-profit or non-profit activities by these persons, groups, and approved business entities, and does not subject these persons/entities to search, arrest, prosecution, seizure, asset forfeiture, and/or any criminal or civil penalty or sanction. Adds to each statute referenced above in Health and Safety Code Section 11362.95 (b) (1) (in this Section 1): ÒThis statute and its provisions do not apply to any person 21 years or older, or to qualifying business entities and approved activities in Section 11395.Ó

(5) Qualifying or approved business entities include those operated by individuals 21 years and older, any recognized business entity, farm, processor, packager, broker, wholesaler, distributor, retailer, winery, or on-sale and off-sale wine and beer business. To the extent of appropriate jurisdiction, these commercial enterprises or businesses shall be regulated by, and fees paid to, the state Alcohol Beverage Control or Agricultural Commissioner, just as with farming businesses, and alcohol licenses and sales. However, no such agency or employee shall act to delay, defeat, or limit the number of commercial cultivation licenses, nor charge higher fees than in the alcohol or winery industries, for any activity or provision granted herein. Unless by regulating local alcohol sales, local zoning to regulate, limit, or defeat any activity approved herein, shall not be considered by these agencies and shall have no effect on this industry. The Agricultural Commissioner shall be responsible for true weights and measures.

(6) The adult activities for this class enumerated herein have no victim(s) and are not subject to sanctions nor punishment.

(7) All pending court actions under said amended statutes that conflict with the provisions of this Act shall be dismissed with prejudice.

(8) The state and/or local jurisdictions may regulate the processing, distribution, sales, and outdoor use within 600 feet of a public school, and in residential zones.

(9) Experimentation, development, research, testing, cultivation, sales, or possession of genetically-modified (GMO) marijuana, hemp, and its seeds, shall be banned throughout the state of California.

(c) The People of the State of California hereby declare that this Act expressly prohibits the following:

(1) This Act adopts the definitions of marijuana and THC as they are presently set forth in Health and Safety Code Sections 11018 and 11006.5, but those definitions shall be broadly interpreted to include and allow the species Cannabis Indica, Ruderalis, and Americana, as well as any plant part, form, derivative, interspecies hybrids or cross-breeds, and all non-genetically-modified strains of the Cannabis genus and plant.

(2) Existing taxes and regulations which may be similar and may apply in the grape farming and wine industries, produce and processed agricultural products and brokerage industry, distribution, retail sales, and wholesale transactions of agricultural crops and products shall apply to marijuana, regardless of THC level, using the grape farming and winery industry as an example, so long as the results support these declarations, purposes and goals.

(3) All wholesale and retail products with a final THC level below 0.1 percent shall be authorized for sales as hemp products. All marijuana or hemp products with a THC level of 0.1 percent or above shall be restricted for sales to persons 21 years or older and regulated in a manner similar to wine, so long as the results support these declarations, purposes and goals.

(4) The State of California, and all branches of its government, shall liberally construe the meaning and implementation of this Act to favor and benefit individuals, and qualifying business entities as follows:

(A) No taxes, fees, laws, rules, regulations, local city or county zoning requirements may be adopted or enacted to defeat, deny, or prohibit the purposes of this Act, or to defeat, deny, or prohibit persons 21 years or older, associations, organizations, commercial, agricultural, or industrial businesses from engaging in the activities protected by this Act. Willful violations of this act shall be considered violations of civil rights as they apply to support these activities and which can result in serious civil fines and penalties.

(B) Adult alcohol manufacturing and use in the winery and beer industries allow for non-commercial home brewing. Any person, association, or collective group not producing more than 12 outdoor flowering plants per adult, or 25 indoor flowering plants per adult, shall be exempt from commercial regulations of the alcohol industry model, excises, fees, and taxes, except for income taxes and sales taxes, if they apply. This act creates and requires statewide standards and preempts and nullifies any conflicting local regulations, while allowing local jurisdictions limited regulation over cultivation in residential zones. However, no local residential regulation shall disallow a maximum total of 12 outdoor or 25 indoor plants per residence in a residential zone.

(C) No regulations, taxes, or fees shall be enacted or imposed for marijuana for qualifying persons and entities, which are more severe or restrictive than those comparable and reasonable in the commercial wine grape farming and winery regulations of the alcohol industry model, including but not limited to, farming, planting, cultivating, irrigating, harvesting, processing, brokering, packaging, processing, storing, selling, distributing, and establishment of retail businesses, cooperatives or collective associations

(5) Regardless of jurisdictional arguments, all state, local, elected, appointed, hired employees, officers, and officials shall refuse to and shall not cooperate with or assist federal, state, or local officials, volunteers, or employees who eradicate marijuana, act for seizure or forfeiture, or defeat any liberally construed purpose of this Act, or to operate under any contract or arrangement to repeal or circumvent this Act directly or indirectly, or to follow or abide by any federal laws or regulations that are in conflict with this Act. Further, no such person acting alone, or with any other person, judicial, legislative or executive body, may contract or agree to cooperate with or assist federal officials, employees, agencies or departments to obtain any revenue, reimbursement, money, property, gain, or advantage by the arrest, prosecution, conviction, or deprivation or seizure of property of anyone acting within the age/qualifying business entity provisions of this Act. This does not apply to federal lands.

(6) Within 30 days of passage of this Act, the offices of both the state Attorney General and the Department of Public Health shall inform the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the United States Attorney General, Congress, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Food and Drug Administration that in 1996 the state of California recognized the current medical use of marijuana in treatment in the United States, and since 1996 has approved a state-regulated physician medical marijuana practice. Physicians have evaluated thousands of patients who have used marijuana with no reported addiction or adverse consequences, and for that reason demands or petitions as is appropriate (see 21 CFR 1308.43, 21 USC 811-812) that marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols as defined in §21 USC 802(16) be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 USC 800 et seq., where it is currently listed as an addictive drug with no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(7) The State of California is ordered to protect and defend all provisions of this Act from any and all challenges or litigation, whether by persons, officials, cities, counties, the state or federal governments.

(8) Any and all commercial advertising for sales, distribution, and use of marijuana, except for medical marijuana and products that contain less than 0.1 percent THC. This provision shall be enforced hereafter by penalties to be set forth by the Legislature.

(d) This Act shall become effective immediately upon passage.

Section 2. Severability

If any of the provisions of this Act, or any part thereof, is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional, the remaining provisions shall not be affected, but shall remain in full force and effect, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.

SECTION 3. Conflicting Measures

If this Act is approved by the voters but superseded by law by any other
conflicting ballot measure approved by the voters at the same election, and the
conflicting measures are later held invalid, this Act shall be self-executing and
given the full force of law.

“I Don’t Want You To Smoke; I Just Want You To Understand Why I Do”

My name is No Inhale. I am 20 years old and I live in Portland, Oregon. I am part-owner and administrator for The Weed Blog. I don’t have a criminal record and I’m attending school full-time, but still people don’t think I am capable of leading a healthy and productive life. I’m not here to endorse smoking marijuana, nor am I here to convince anyone to try it. I am only asking those around me to, not only understand why I smoke cannabis, but accept it, as well.

I first smoked when I was a freshman in high school; I was 14 years old and just as blissfully unaware of my own ignorance as I am now. I didn’t like how it made me feel then, so I only did it a handful of times before quitting for the remainder of my high school career. I was approached by Johnny Green and Ninja Smoker in May of last year. They knew I supported those who used marijuana, but did not smoke it myself. This gave me enough credibility (and relevance) to start writing for the website. It’s a year later, and a few things have changed; mainly, that now I am, once again, a marijuana consumer.

I remember the petty judgments and shallow reception the “stoners” got in high school, but I always thought the animosity stemmed from 1,200 insecure teenagers forced to be around each other five days a week. Unfortunately, the adult world can be just as judgmental and closed-minded as a pack of 16 year old girls. Both sides of this issue are tired of the opposition’s repetitive rhetoric. Stoners, bible thumpers, rednecks, liberals, conservatives, hippies have all been beating their dead horses since June, 1971. It’s gotten so ridiculous that both sides are stretching the truth to serve their causes.

My time around cannabis culture has exposed me to hundreds of claims and “facts” about marijuana; many contradicting. What I have extrapolated from my experiences is much less dramatic than a painful death or a cure to all ailments. Marijuana is a plant; it grows naturally in the dirt. The fact that we have made nature illegal should show you how out of hand this has gotten. My father recently passed away from esophageal cancer. It was a three year battle of hell, but marijuana helped him enjoy his last years alive. I can’t imagine anyone would want to throw him in jail for trying to make his last years livable. Marijuana is not the cause of, nor the cure for, cancer, it’s just a plant that amplifies the positive emotions a person feels. Food tastes better, movies are more enjoyable, people are friendlier. Marijuana gives me a certain lucidity, a certain intimacy with everything around me, including myself. Sounds super stoney, right? So, who gives a shit?? Let me be a stoner. Let me laugh at Jay and Silent Bob, let me appreciate every-day objects as divine creation, let me see the beauty and symmetry this world has to offer. Why do you care? Let me enrich my life the way I want to. Let me roll my spliff and sink into my own subconscious, I promise you will come to see that marijuana is just another consumable this earth offers. No different from an apple, no different from chocolate cake, no different than salt and pepper. I don’t want you to join me (although you are always welcome), I just want you to understand and leave me to my happiness.

Obama Cracks Down On Medical Marijuana Laws

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.

Ryan Cook reaches for a jar of medical marijuana at one of his clinics in Denver on June 24.

Ed Andrieski/APRyan Cook reaches for a jar of medical marijuana at one of his clinics in Denver on June 24.

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.

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