MMJ Dispensaries Will No Longer Be Prosecuted

  MMJ Dispensaries Will No Longer Be Prosecuted

Posted by CN Staff on March 19, 2009 at 05:07:08 PT
By Josh Meyer and Scott Glover 
Source: Los Angeles Times 

Los Angeles, CA -- Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington -- U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday that the Justice Department has no plans to prosecute pot dispensaries that are operating legally under state laws in California and a dozen other states -- a development that medical marijuana advocates and civil libertarians hailed as a sweeping change in federal drug policy.In recent months, Obama administration officials have indicated that they planned to take a hands-off approach to such clinics, but Holder's comments -- made at a wide-ranging briefing with reporters -- offered the most detailed explanation to date of the changing priorities toward the controversial prosecutions.
The Bush administration targeted medical marijuana distributors even in states that had passed laws allowing use of the drug for medical purposes by cancer patients, those dealing with chronic pain or other serious ailments. Holder said the priority of the new administration is to go after egregious offenders operating in violation of both federal and state law, such as those being used as fronts for drug dealers."Those are the organizations, the people, that we will target," the attorney general said.Medical marijuana activists and civil libertarians embraced Holder's latest statement as the most forceful affirmation of what long had been anticipated: a landmark turnaround from the Bush administration's policy of zero tolerance for cannabis use by patients."Whatever questions were left, today's comments clearly represent a change in policy out of Washington. He's sending a clear message to the DEA," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.Cultivating, using and selling medical marijuana are allowed in some instances under California law. But such actions are outlawed entirely under federal law, which supersedes those of the states. A dozen other states have laws similar to California's, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization that supports the legalization of the drug.In the 13 years since California voters made the state one of the first to legalize medical marijuana, federal officials have won all the major legal battles, including one at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001 in which their right to prosecute marijuana sellers was upheld. But supporters of medical marijuana have fought back on the political front, and Holder's announcement is their biggest victory so far.Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for Thomas P. O'Brien, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, said the office already focused on egregious offenders such as those who sell drugs to minors and people with bogus prescriptions or those who operate away from their approved location."In every single case we have prosecuted, the defendants violated state as well as federal law," Mrozek said.Despite the abundance of medical marijuana dispensaries in Southern California, Mrozek said prosecutors have charged only four operators and their associates in the last seven years.Obama suggested during the presidential campaign that medical marijuana dispensaries operating within state law would not be subject to prosecution if he were elected.But soon after his inauguration, the Drug Enforcement Administration raided several dispensaries in the Los Angeles area and near Tahoe, in what appeared to be a continuation of policies enforced under previous administrations. At Wednesday's briefing, his first major sit-down with reporters, Holder was asked if the Justice Department planned to raid any more clinics."The policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law, to the extent that people do that and try to use medical marijuana laws as a shield for activity that is not designed to comport with what the intention was of the state law," Holder said. "Those are the organizations, the people, that we will target. And that is consistent with what the president said during the campaign."A Justice Department official confirmed that Holder's comments effectively articulated a formal Obama administration policy of not going after such clinics."Before, he didn't really lay out the policy. Today, he stated the policy," said the Justice Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly."If you are operating a medical marijuana clinic that is actually a front, we'll come after you," the official said. "But if you are operating within the law, we are not going to prioritize our resources to go after them."Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project said he still has some concerns: What happens to dispensary operators caught up in raids during the last days of the Bush policy, and would federal drug agents resist "trumping up" violations to circumvent the Obama administration's edict."The devil is going to be in the details of implementation," Mirken said. "I think you have to assume that there are people within the DEA and some in local law enforcement who still don't like medical marijuana and would like to find an excuse to continue making arrests of law-abiding dispensary operators."Times staff writer Eric Bailey contributed to this report.Note: The statement by Eric H. Holder Jr. represents a landmark shift from the Bush administration's zero tolerance toward the use of pot by people with cancer and other serious ailments.Complete Title: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Will No Longer Be Prosecuted, U.S. Attorney General SaysSource: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author: Josh Meyer and Scott GloverPublished: March 19, 2009Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: Articles:Obama To Stop Raids on Marijuana Dispensers General Signals Shift in MMJ Policy

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Comment #16 posted by afterburner on August 18, 2015 at 12:04:44 PT
Hope #15 & FoM #14
I found some encouraging links at Granny Stormcrow's list. Complications: patient is inoperable due to multiple health conditions; this may also rule out chemo and radiation. Also, patient, as a life-time prohibitionist, would be unlikely to embrace a medical cannabis solution.
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Comment #15 posted by Hope on August 14, 2015 at 20:39:20 PT
It all depends on so many different things...
Thyroid Cancer Treatment like a good place to start looking.
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on August 14, 2015 at 19:56:47 PT
I am sorry about the senior with Thyroid Cancer. Here is a link. If you mean Cannabis related I am not sure. It's good to see you.
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Comment #13 posted by afterburner on August 14, 2015 at 17:23:36 PT
Anyone with info on treating thyroid cancer...
please post any links, names or treatments. Thank you in advance for any help for a sick senior.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on March 19, 2009 at 16:19:07 PT
More Brakes Applied To Medi-Marijuana Prosecutions
More Brakes Applied To Medi-Marijuana Prosecutions By FedsMarch 19, 2009URL:
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on March 19, 2009 at 14:45:48 PT
Thank you. I look at life and our mission in a way that seems right to me. I knew what is going on now wouldn't work and it makes me sad. 
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Comment #10 posted by dongenero on March 19, 2009 at 14:25:55 PT
You have no idea how much your efforts mean to your cannabisnews friends out here.In fact your influence has effect far beyond we regular posters at Cnews and on to the world at large.You appeal to the better angels in all of us. We regulars here, know that your drive and commitment comes from a place very deep within your heart.Best wishes and love.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on March 19, 2009 at 14:09:23 PT
U.S. Must Stop Prosecuting Medipot Growers
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on March 19, 2009 at 13:58:21 PT

You have no idea what your comment means to me. 
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Comment #7 posted by dongenero on March 19, 2009 at 13:42:25 PT

I agree FoM. I always felt that WAMM was probably the most innocuous model of any for a compassionate source of medical marijuana for patients. Patients grew and tended their own plants when possible. Nothing was sold.I think what worked against WAMM was timing. They were early providers and the Feds were against ANY provider.
Their head was poking above the fence so to speak.Subsequently, more storefront, for sale, middleman type providers sprang up in numbers. These subsequent models were I think sometimes dubious in the compassion department. Hand it to our government for destroying the positive compassion models and opening the door for the more dubious business models and those who were inclined to take high profit, risk ventures. Kind of had the same effect as prohibition. When you prohibit and take the hard line the Feds have, you will end up with more criminals in the game.I know WAMM was in tough straits of late. I hope the new political climate will allow them to revive their compassion alliance.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 19, 2009 at 13:06:06 PT

The only thing I have to say is I have never understood what is going on in California. Back when I learned about Prop 215 in 96 and later I thought I understood how it would work fairly quickly. I saw Valerie Corral and Mike and how they were going to do it. WAMM has always been what I thought would be a great way to do it. Beyond that I just didn't get any of it. Compassion is a word that is special at least to me. I just keep my mouth shut and think my own thoughts and leave it all alone.
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on March 19, 2009 at 12:42:04 PT

devil in the details
Is it just me or is this worrisome? He just said that all the prosecutions they made so far are violators of state law - What about Charles Lynch? does that include him? Brian Epis, etc? They can pick any dispensary they want and make it seem like they're violating state laws - just get a narc patient to lie to a doctor for a recommendation and then buy meds.hopefully this is just semantics - wordplay to keep the right-wing from going nuts. I'm sorry to see Grassley against this - he has been a good watchdog for Big Pharma abuses. Now it looks like Grassley is just another right-wing Puritan who doesn't want anyone to get medication for anything.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 19, 2009 at 11:37:35 PT

News from US News & World Report Blog
Obama, Holder's Drug Policy Partially Decriminalizes Pot - Time to Go All the Way?March 19, 2009URL:
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on March 19, 2009 at 07:47:12 PT

"trumping up" 
The DEA has made a career out of fabrication, half truths and pure old lies! In my case, as in most I presume, the DEA lied and filled in the blanks were needed to cover their own ineptitude and lazy blunders.Of course they will employ witnesses to lie on the stand [even threaten and blackmail] and they will plant evidence. Anything to win a case and prove a point. Many, many innocent and otherwise good people have lost their lives or had their lives ruined by theses evil people who are willing to turn on their countrymen for fun and profit.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on March 19, 2009 at 07:29:30 PT

Policy Shift Good News For MMJ Advocates
Policy Shift Good News For Medical Marijuana AdvocatesMarch 19, 2009SALINAS, Calif. - Attorney general Eric Holder announced Wednesday that federal agents will no longer go after marijuana distributors that comply with state law.Under the Bush administration, pot dispensaries in California were raided by DEA agents for breaking federal law even though they're legal in the state."We have tinctures, the medical form in the 30s," said Lisa Molyneux, Greenway Dispensary founder.Molyneux owns the first licensed pot dispensary in California. She's also a thyroid cancer patient who said there's no substitute for medical marijuana."When I was first diagnosed and recommended to use medical cannabis, there were only seven clubs in California. It was very hush-hush," Molyneux said.Now there are hundreds of buyers' clubs in California.But, dozens of them were raided by DEA agents under the Bush administration for violating federal law, which lists marijuana as a "schedule one drug" -- along with heroin -- which means it cannot be prescribed as medication."I know it's a valuable medicine and I know all the people it helps," Molyneux said.Under California Proposition 215, passed in 1996, any person with a doctor's recommendation can grow, use and transport medical marijuana.Holder's announcement was good news for the Women's Alliance for Medical Marijuana or WAMM. The organization was raided by the feds in September of 2002."What it does for us is it's a blessing," said Valerie Corral, with WAMM.WAMM is not a buyer's club. It's made up of patients who grow and give away marijuana to other patients who can't afford it."The issues been so clouded, so much stigma, that it makes it difficult for people who are sick to access medicine. How many of my friends lost their lives whose illness and suffering was exacerbated by the absence of medicine," Coral said.California was the first of now 13 total states legalize medical marijuana law.There are about two dozen California medical marijuana cases pending in federal court. The attorney general did not clarify what will happen to those cases under this shift in federal policy.Copyright: 2009 Microsoft
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 19, 2009 at 06:46:53 PT

GOP Senator Blasts New Medical Marijuana Policy
 March 19, 2009 WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says the Obama administration's change in policy toward medical marijuana is a bad idea.The Iowa lawmaker is criticizing the Justice Department's new policy of targeting California's medical marijuana distributors only if they violate both federal and state law.That's a break from the Bush administration, which targeted dispensaries under federal law even if they complied with the state's law allowing sales of medical marijuana.Grassley says the new policy outlined by Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday is counterproductive because marijuana leads to use of harder drugs.The senator said Thursday that Holder isn't doing health care reform any good.Copyright: 2009 The Associated Press
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