Gregoire Expected To Veto MMJ Bill on Friday
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Gregoire Expected To Veto MMJ Bill on Friday
Posted by CN Staff on April 29, 2011 at 05:25:23 PT
By Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Source: Seattle Times
Seattle, WA -- Gov. Chris Gregoire on Friday is expected to veto all or part of a landmark medical-marijuana bill because of federal prosecutors' threat to prosecute state employees who carry it out.That threat, delivered by the state's two U.S. attorneys earlier this month, has prompted concerns about federal meddling in state policymaking. Legislators, law professors and marijuana activists said Thursday that threat is hollow, and may not be constitutionally legal.
Gregoire has publicly said she will not sign the bill, and has called a news conference for Friday to discuss it.She has cited a letter by U.S. Attorneys Jenny Durkan of Seattle and Mike Ormsby of Spokane, which said state employees could be held civilly or criminally liable for enforcing the proposed law, which would legalize and regulate medical dispensaries and grow operations for the first time.Hugh Spitzer, a state constitutional law expert, told Gregoire in a letter on Thursday that he knew of no cases "during the past 60 years, and perhaps not since the Civil War," when individual state workers were federally charged for following state law. He urged her to sign the bill.The threat from Durkan and Ormsby, he wrote, "is an example of inappropriate Federal 'bullying' of our state in connection with a controversial policy issue where this Washington is undertaking an approach that is not preferred by that Washington."Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, championed the bill, SB 5073, in response to an outcry from police, cities and patients asking for clarification of vague elements of the 1998 voter-approved medical-marijuana law.Kohl-Welles said she understood Gregoire's concern about protecting state employees, "but I can't fathom that the federal government would send agents to arrest and then prosecute them for doing their jobs under state law. The governor is taking them totally serious, and I'm saying it's such a stretch that would happen."In anticipation of a full or partial veto, Kohl-Welles said she was preparing a bill that could be heard during the Legislature's current special session, with provisions designed to better protect state employees.The concern appears to hinge on subtle wording in the bill that authorizes the state to license and regulate dispensaries and grow farms, but it does not outright decriminalize those operations.That distinction was critical in a 2010 Oregon Supreme Court case, known as Emerald Steel, which allowed employers to fire employees for use of marijuana. In that case, the court found that the federal ban on marijuana pre-empted uses of marijuana that were authorized, but not decriminalized under Oregon law.Gregoire appears to be concerned that, should she sign the bill, federal law would pre-empt and state employees could be prosecuted. Federal officials and at least one federal court has said that for state workers to be immune from federal prosecution, they must be enforcing conduct that is decriminalized under state law.But Robert Mikos, a Vanderbilt law professor who studies the intersection of federalism and medical-marijuana laws, doubts federal prosecutors could charge state employees unless they were actively "aiding and abetting" people in violation of federal law.By issuing licenses, "the state here is not helping people commit federal violations," he said.As debate about the bill spun through legal and activist circles on Thursday, federal agents in Spokane raided at least three dispensaries there, seizing marijuana and patient records.The raids occurred at the same time as a national medical-marijuana activist, Steph Sherer, was conducting a "raid training" session at the downtown Spokane library. Cellphones began buzzing during the training, and the crowd quickly left for a protest outside one of the raided dispensaries on Spokane's South Hill.Sherer, founder of the California-based Americans for Safe Access, said the letter from Durkan and Ormsby and the raids were part of a campaign to intimidate medical-marijuana patients. "Most of these raids are smash and grabs — they take the medicine, they take the patient records, then don't prosecute. We're sick and tried of this. We're obviously not going away."Ormsby, in an interview, confirmed that raids were in progress, but said he could not discuss an ongoing investigation. The raids come on the heels of a letter Ormsby sent earlier this month threatening dispensaries' landlords with potential forfeiture of their properties."Dispensaries are huge scourge in this community," said Ormsby. Before the letter to landlords, at least 55 were operating in the area, nine of them within 500 feet of schools. "That's totally unacceptable."Under federal law, marijuana is a Schedule I drug and cannot be prescribed, possessed or grown.Ormsby said he was not consulted about the pending bill until Gregoire asked for his opinion earlier this month, after it had passed both chambers of the Legislature. Even if he had been, Ormsby said there is "no distribution model that will meet federal approval."He said he went through "proper channels" within the Department of Justice before sending the letter.Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times Staff ReporterPublished: April 28, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana  Archives 
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Comment #4 posted by dongenero on April 29, 2011 at 13:02:19 PT
Where are Washington citizen's advocates in DC?
How many of the following Washington state US Congressional members are sponsoring legislation in DC, to protect citizens of their state on this issue?U. S. Senator - Maria Cantwell
U. S. Senator - Patty Murray
U. S. Representative 1st District- Jay Inslee
U. S. Representative 2nd District- Richard Larsen
U. S. Representative 3rd District- Jaime Herrera Beutler
U. S. Representative 4th District- Richard Hastings
U. S. Representative 5th District- Cathy McMorris Rodgers
U. S. Representative 6th District- Norman Dicks
U. S. Representative 7th District- James McDermott
U. S. Representative 8th District- David Reichert
U. S. Representative 9th District- Adam Smith
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on April 29, 2011 at 12:31:21 PT
State Workers: Veto Medical Marijuana Bill
April 29, 2011 Olympia, WA -- The state employees union joined the fray over the medical marijuana bill, urging Gov. Chris Gregoire in a letter today to veto it.The letter from Greg Devereaux, executive director of the Washington Federation of State Employees, said the law would put them in a “precarious position of enforcing a state law which could potentially lead to their prosecution under federal law.”That missive comes on the heels of Thursday's letter from University of Washington Law Professor Hugh Spitzer, one of the state's top constitutional law experts, that contends those types of prosecutions are highly unlikely, despite a letter from federal prosecutors to Gregoire. Spitzer accused U.S. Attorneys Mike Ormsby of Spokanke and Jenny Durkan of Seattle of “federal bullying” and argued such prosecutions haven't occured over other conflicts between federal and state laws for decades — maybe not since the Civil War.URL:
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on April 29, 2011 at 08:20:56 PT
How many representatives are lawyers?
Lawyers are always pushing for a agenda; The underlying purpose of which is always self enrichment.I have had many conversations with many lawyers. My last lawyer was by far the most candid. I gave him a bit of bad news one day that concerned him. I asked him if he was bothered by the news? He said, no, lawyers tend to be thick skinned."Thick skinned meant that they don't feel like a normal person. They sure don't feel your pain! People like this have no trouble at all selling out. You don't sacrifice eight years of your life studying, going into debt, unless you are planning to make a whole ship-load of money. Money driven individuals are not my kink of folks.What does $1,200x20,000=? At one hundred dollars per month ave. per each pill customer, about $2,400,000 dollars right? That is how many people are not spending money on pills in Montana. Very conservative figure. it is probably a lot higher. At this rate x 15 states we are beginning to talk real money. They can spend a lot less bribing these automatons than loosing all that profit to the herb.Consider also-all the side effects that must also be treated due to the poisons in the pills?Lawyers in politics is like having the hog guard the trough.Having cops guarding the drug trade is like the cat guarding the bird cage. The minute you look away, the bird disappears.
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on April 29, 2011 at 06:57:09 PT
from what I've heard this is not a bad thing, many patients thought this bill had become worse than current lawslet's hope we get another veto in Montana today
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