Dispensers of MMJ Find Relief in Policy Shift

Dispensers of MMJ Find Relief in Policy Shift
Posted by CN Staff on March 19, 2009 at 19:24:35 PT
By Solomon Moore
Source: New York Times 
Los Angeles, CA -- The air inside the Los Angeles Patients and Caregivers Group was pungent with the aroma of premium hydroponic marijuana, but the proprietor, Don Duncan, said on Thursday that he was breathing a bit easier.A day before, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had said that the federal authorities would no longer take action against medical marijuana dispensaries if they were in compliance with state and local laws.
While 13 states, including California, have laws allowing medical use of marijuana, they had not been recognized by the federal government. One of Mr. Duncan’s two marijuana dispensaries was a target, in 2007, of one of the scores of raids involving medical marijuana that the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted in Los Angeles during the Bush administration.Mr. Duncan, a founder of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, said he was meeting with officials at City Hall at the time of the raid, trying to work out a local ordinance under Proposition 215, which allows the medical use of marijuana.“I got a call and found out they smashed through our window and pried open the back door,” Mr. Duncan said. Since then, he has operated only one dispensary, fearing he could again be a target of the federal authorities.Mr. Holder’s statement that he would not authorize raids on medical marijuana dispensaries appeared to shift Justice Department policy, at least rhetorically, away from the Bush administration’s stated policy of zero tolerance for marijuana, regardless of state laws. Advocates of medical marijuana welcomed the change.But conversations with government officials on Thursday revealed disagreement within the administration about how great a shift Mr. Holder’s statements represent.A spokesman for the drug enforcement agency, Garrison Courtney, pointed out that the attorney general’s statement indicated that the federal authorities would continue to go after marijuana dispensaries that broke state and federal laws by selling to minors, selling excessive amounts or selling marijuana from unsanctioned growers.Mr. Courtney said that the agency had raided only a fraction of the thousands of marijuana dispensaries now operating and that agents had used discretion to go after only the worst offenders.Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the United States attorney in Los Angeles, said his office had prosecuted only four medical marijuana dispensary cases since the passage of Proposition 215, a 1996 ballot measure that made California the first state to legalize medical marijuana. That measure set off a decade-long fight over several legal issues.The case of Charles Lynch, a dispensary operator whose business was raided on the same day as Mr. Duncan’s, was the most prominent. Mr. Lynch was convicted and will be sentenced on Monday in federal court. He faces a minimum of five years in federal prison for charges that included selling to a minor under the age of 21.Mr. Lynch’s lawyers argued that he violated no state laws while operating his dispensary and said that by registering with the local Chamber of Commerce and paying taxes, he was working to abide by the law. Mr. Mrozek said Mr. Lynch had broken local and federal laws.“Charles Lynch might be the last man to go to jail for medical marijuana,” Mr. Duncan said.A Justice Department official said the situation of marijuana dispensary operators already in the criminal justice system would be decided case by case.Mark Agrast, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning research group in Washington, said Mr. Holder’s statement indicated a more pragmatic and less ideological approach to drug enforcement.“This is an example of recognizing the limited resources they have, so they have to make decisions about the soundest use of available resources,” Mr. Agrast said.The attorney general’s comments also indicated that the Justice Department would allocate greater resources for investigations of white-collar crime, including financial crime, and other enforcement areas that received less attention during the Bush administration.Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group that supports medical marijuana, agreed that Mr. Holder’s statement signaled a shift in policy.“Attorney General Holder is saying something explicitly different from both Bush and Clinton,” Mr. Nadelmann said. “He’s saying that these medical marijuana laws are kosher by state law and we’re not going after those. He’s saying federal law doesn’t trump state laws on this.”Mr. Duncan, the dispensary owner, said he was cautiously optimistic about Mr. Holder’s statement but would reserve judgment about how much things would change in his business.“I think we’re going to see less and less federal interference,” he said. “At the same time, there’s going to be more and more scrutiny from state and local agencies.”A version of this article appeared in print on March 20, 2009, on page A15 of the New York edition.Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Solomon MoorePublished: March 20, 2009 - Page A15Copyright: 2009 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: Articles: MMJ Dispensaries Will No Longer Be Prosecuted To Stop Raids on Marijuana Dispensers
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Comment #9 posted by moonlightmile on March 21, 2009 at 20:15:51 PT:
Holder's Comments
clearly signal a change in policy, regardless of what prosecutors may say. Since marijuana is a schedule 1 narcotic, possession of any amount is a Federal crime. Thus, based on Holder's statement of policy, no one in compliance with state law will be prosecuted by the Feds.
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Comment #8 posted by GeoChemist on March 21, 2009 at 05:05:39 PT
My respect for any U. S. attorney is nil. The district I live in is "governed" by Mary Beth Buchanan, you know the one that wasted MY tax dollars to bait then prosecute Tommy Chong for what amounted to nothing more than a piece of glass. Right now she is in the midst of a RETRIAL against Dr. Cyril Wecht because the first trial ended with a hung jury. It's amazing how fast the prosecution gets a RETRIAL when the outcome favors the defense; it's pretty disproportionate. Double jeopardy should apply in cases like this, not a murder case; O.J. walks, Wecht is retried for using his county office (lab) to do personal work. I think one of the worst parts of this is Buchanan is a NATIVE of this area, she is from a small working class town situated along the Monongahela River. Why doesn't she resign and more importantly, why is she not the subject of an investigation; waste, fraud and abuse. 
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Comment #7 posted by dongenero on March 20, 2009 at 08:14:03 PT
You are right. I was just going to post a similar comment.Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the United States attorney in Los Angeles, said his office had prosecuted only four medical marijuana dispensary cases since the passage of Proposition 215,......This Mrozek guy tries to assert they are not harrassing dispensaries in that they have prosecuted only four!?What this really says is they are just breaking in, ransacking these businesses, stealing their money and assets and then walking away with no intention of legal proceedings.This is also known as armed robbery to private citizens. It is just that your government is doing it.Well, welcome to America, land of the free. 
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Comment #6 posted by GeoChemist on March 20, 2009 at 03:59:15 PT
Smash & grab
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the United States attorney in Los Angeles, said his office had prosecuted only four medical marijuana dispensary cases since the passage of Proposition 215, a 1996 ballot measure that made California the first state to legalize medical marijuana. I have come to the understanding when Gestapo (DEAth) agents raid these dispensaries they generally employ smash & grad techniques and leave without making arrests. It seems Mrozek is talking out of both sides of his mouth (surprise, surprise), I thought it was an unwritten rule that appointees from previous administrations resign when a new administration is sworn in? Is it that hard to concede power? 
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Comment #5 posted by konagold on March 20, 2009 at 00:56:42 PT
DEA raids on the Big Island 
Yesterday I was in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates[H.O.V.E.][for many years the USA's largest subdivision]near the southern most point in the USAI witnessed helicopter eradication efforts using multiple helicopters over this remote residential subdivision of one acre lotsLast night I received a call from members of our Church, H.O.V.E. residents, who were so terrorized by low flying helicopters that, even tho they had two medical cards allowing the number of plants that they had, they left their home ground troops entered their property with out warrent and seized their medicineI counseled them, the woman in tears, scared to even sleep at their home that night I promised to call them this morning which I didprior to that call i found out that a friend who also is a med pot card holder with a registered grow site is a neighbor of this couple and when he saw the ground troops approaching him, he advanced down his driveway toward them holding his 'blue card' in the air proclaiming his legality they left without even counting his plantsI contacted an Oahu Attorney who also holds a 'blue card' he was outraged and offered to represent themI called the Police Chief to complain left voice mail and as yet no return callSo I then called the mayors office to put some things in context in November we passed a lowest order of priority ordnance via ballot initiative with a 58% approval which also forbade the acceptance of federal money for helicopter eradicationHawaii was the first state in the nation which through the legislative process legalized medicinal Cannabis [rather than ballot initiative] many big islanders [self included] testified in support of this bill and the big island has the greatest number of blue card holders in the States tho we only represent 10% of the states population the mayors office informed me it was the DEA and HPD claims there is no county resources involved  I then appealed, through his representative, to the mayor to represent his island people and to oppose this 'foreign invasion'developing
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on March 20, 2009 at 00:23:41 PT
A gory story but true!
When I was in prison for so calously and brutally cultivating herbs, I witnessed most of the things my Mother tried to keep me away from.
Death is always a sobering event. I saw a few people die!Three cells down lived a young black man we all called Diamond. He was about 30, very ill and was gay.
I don't know what all was wrong with him but he developed large boils all over.One day there was such commotion!Diamonds friend found him in a pool of blood in his cell. His many lesions were opening up and bleeding.
His friend carried him down to the cops office and ask for an emergency team from the hospital which was about, only 5 minuets away. When he knocked on the cops door the cop was in his office watching TV. He came to the door looked at Diamond and said he would make a call.Diamond waited 3 hours for someone to show, meanwhile he died. Right there, he died!Finally a nurse showed up to see if it was really an emergency or not. NOT!!! He was already dead!FYI- I knew Diamond. Sober he was a sweet and even timid man. He had a appitite for hard drugs and alcohol which might have killed anyway but still?
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on March 19, 2009 at 23:56:16 PT
Diane Sweet; "They were brutalizing us."
No this is not the complaint of a holocaust survivor or a former captive of some mid-east terrorist organization!This is not a midnight raid by Waffen SS agents!This is not the complaint of some poor third world political victim!This is tyranny homegrown!The DEA, by all cosmic reasoning, should spend their long awaited retirements in prison.-meals included!
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on March 19, 2009 at 23:38:27 PT
Emperor George the W.
He went naked for eight years thinking he was wearing new clothes.When President Obama moved into the white house he promptly hired a new presidential tailor!
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 19, 2009 at 20:10:07 PT
Mellowing Out on Marijuana
March 19th, 2009URL:
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