States Reassess Marijuana Laws After Fed Warnings

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  States Reassess Marijuana Laws After Fed Warnings

Posted by CN Staff on May 03, 2011 at 08:23:00 PT
By Mike Baker, Associated Press 
Source: Associated Press  

Olympia, Wash. -- Several states have started reassessing their medical marijuana laws after stern warnings from the federal government that everyone from licensed growers to regulators could be subjected to prosecution. The ominous-sounding letters from U.S. attorneys in recent weeks have directly injected the federal government back into a debate that has for years been progressing at the state level. Warnings in Washington state led Gov. Chris Gregoire to veto a proposal that would have created licensed marijuana dispensaries.
Gregoire, the chair of the National Governors Association, now says she wants to work with other states to push for changes to federal marijuana laws to resolve the legal disputes caused by what she described as prosecutors reinterpreting their own policies. "The landscape is changing out there. They are suggesting they are not going to stand down," Gregoire said. The Department of Justice said two years ago that it would be an inefficient use of funds to target people who are in clear compliance with state law. But U.S. attorneys have said in their recent memos that they would consider civil or criminal penalties for those who run large-scale operations—even if they are acceptable under state law. In a letter to Gregoire, Washington state's two U.S. attorneys warned that even state employees could be subject to prosecution for their role in marijuana regulation. The letter does not specify how that would happen, but the implication is that state workers who are involved in approving and regulating the sale of an illegal drug are committing a crime. No state workers have been charged federally for regulating medical marijuana laws, and legal experts say such a move would be extraordinary—if not unprecedented in recent history. Gregoire said she didn't want to take the chance, arguing that it would be irresponsible for her to leave her workers vulnerable. Letters with various cautions have also gone to officials in California, Colorado, Montana and Rhode Island. Federal authorities recently conducted a series of raids at grow operations in Montana, helping push lawmakers to put stricter limits on the industry. Federal raids also targeted at least two dispensaries in Spokane on Thursday, a day before Gregoire decided to veto the proposed law. More than a dozen states have approved the medical use of marijuana, which is not legal under federal law. About half of those states regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. The impact of the U.S. attorneys' letters is growing. New Jersey is in the process of preparing to implement its new medical marijuana law, but Gov. Chris Christie's administration doesn't want to get operations fully up and running until it can get some clarity about the legal warnings issued in other states and how they might affect New Jersey workers and marijuana operators. "Those letters raised serious questions about legal jeopardy," said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak. The state's attorney general has officially asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for guidance. Gregoire said she is interested in working with other governors to push for a change in federal law to reclassify medical marijuana as a Schedule 2 substance, putting it on par with addictive but accepted drugs such as morphine or oxycodone. Justice Department officials said in 2009 that, as a general rule, prosecutors should not focus federal resources "on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana." A memo on the subject did leave open the possibility of federal prosecution even when people comply with state law, but Holder indicated that would not be policy. "The policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law," Holder told reporters at the time. The latest memos carry a more direct warning: "We maintain the authority to enforce (federal law) vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law."  Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said in a statement that prosecutors aren't going to look the other way while significant drug-trafficking organizations try and shield their illegal efforts through the pretense that they are medical dispensaries. "We will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal," she said. The federal comments have angered supporters of medical marijuana, who had believed that the Obama administration was honoring state laws. Ezra Eickmeyer, political director for the Washington Cannabis Association, said it appears prosecutors are operating under a more aggressive policy. "Coming in and trying to strong-arm legislatures is way over the top," Eickmeyer said. "We would have expected this sort of thing form the Bush administration, but not Obama."Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Mike Baker, Associated PressPublished: May 3, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Associated PressCannabisNews  Medical Marijuana Archives

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Comment #32 posted by afterburner on May 04, 2011 at 10:31:02 PT
Hope #10
Thanks for your concern about Canada. I'm too disappointed to go into many details yet. I am reasonably certain that the Conservative Majority Parliament will take advantage of this new power to enact some truly heinous laws. They have already announced that they will move swiftly, that they will pass reviled (by the opposition parties) Omnibus legislation that will enact mandatory minimums for cannabis cultivation. Harper also has been quoted about his intolerance for cannabis. Building new prisons, like the USA did is also on the agenda.Too bad about Texas not having a medical cannabis law. Hopefully, you can at least purchase hemp seeds, which are high in Omega EFAs (essential fatty acids). Hemp Hearts are tasty hemp seeds with the hull removed.Vitamin D is great. It builds up your immunity.God bless!
Cannabis Facts for Canadians > Conservative Opposition to Cannabis Law Reform
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Comment #31 posted by Sam Adams on May 04, 2011 at 08:29:13 PT
tea, etc.
hope, that sucks about the "triple negative", but you shouldn't get too intimidated by statistics. That "anti-cancer" book is great - it was written by a doctor that had a "bad" brain tumor - his odds of survival were very low right from the start.But he came up a with a great strategy to fight it - basically just doing everything you can to move yourself into the small percentage of people who survive it. And then the whole book is devoted to various ways you can do that. If nothing else it's satisfying to know you're actively fighting back.That's so cool about the "420" on the Upton site, no way that's just a coincidence. Very exciting times these days, there seem to be "420" signals popping up all over New England as people start to come out of the closet!you have to watch out, some of the teas they have are insanely expensive. But as I said the cheaper ones are always really good and not much different.I've been checking out green teas from India lately - fairly new, China is the traditional source of green tea. A couple of my favorites are "TC88" and "TN73". Also for a connisseur-grade tea, TD00.
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Comment #30 posted by Hope on May 03, 2011 at 21:51:17 PT
We used to have a health food store that 
kept all sorts of wonderful loose herbs and teas in stock. They were in labeled jars and they would weigh out however much you wanted. It was great. I need to go see what the current health food store might have. I used to be a regular weekly customer at the old one until it closed.
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Comment #29 posted by Hope on May 03, 2011 at 21:45:15 PT
"I'm not afraid anymore."
Good for you, BGreen. I'm glad.I'm still afraid. I like to think of it as being a cautious person. Which I am. I always have been.But I try to be brave, too. Courageous and all and willing to stand against injustice... but without being any more foolish than I have to be, if I can keep from it.
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Comment #28 posted by Hope on May 03, 2011 at 21:40:51 PT
This one sounds delicious.
Arya Estate Pearl Organic
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Comment #27 posted by BGreen on May 03, 2011 at 21:38:16 PT
That's a shame about that girl, Hope
I think I'm going to place an order from them when I run out of tea. They have really good prices on Rooibos, too. I drink it everyday mixed with green and black tea and Yerba Mata.I'm not afraid anymore.Bud
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Comment #26 posted by greenmed on May 03, 2011 at 21:35:15 PT
Governor Gregoire
The annual meeting of the National Governor's Association is to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah this year, July 15-17. Hopefully some discussion and action can be reached among the Governors, especially those threatened by the DOJ's latest round of missives.From -> 'Federal Relations' -> 'Permanent Policy: Principles for State-Federal Relations':"2.2.3 The judicial branch should respect state authority. Avoiding federal preemption of state laws and policies also extends to the judicial branch. Governors encourage the federal courts to restore the Tenth Amendment as a substantive limit on federal intrusion into areas of state and local concern, and place meaningful limits on the federal government’s scope of authority under the Commerce Clause. In addition, court-ordered remedies should respect state authority by limiting the time and scope of injunctive relief and by extending it no further than is necessary to restore the exercise of constitutional rights. The federal courts also should exercise forbearance in policy areas that have traditionally been state responsibilities and avoid substituting their judgments for those of state legislatures and Governors absent violations of the U.S. Constitution."It's a good read.The main page of the NGA web site also has a link to a list of addresses and phone numbers of Governors' offices (Governors -> Governors' Contact Information).
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Comment #25 posted by Hope on May 03, 2011 at 21:31:41 PT
She was a college student.
It was tea... but she had to take "The ride" and she made the local papers... before that was revealed. And I guess she had to make bail because it was about two weeks before they found out it was tea. It was a "Green leafy substance" before that. 
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Comment #24 posted by BGreen on May 03, 2011 at 21:31:01 PT - I like them already - part 2
Standard shipping for domestic orders is just $4.20!LOLThe Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #23 posted by Hope on May 03, 2011 at 21:28:13 PT
I saw that! It's probably what made me remember that incident with the young lady.
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Comment #22 posted by Hope on May 03, 2011 at 21:26:52 PT
"I'll order some."
Maybe I'll look around and find some in a store. I just recalled a girl near here, about fifteen years ago, that ordered some tea, green tea, probably, in the mail and somehow, mysteriously, the package got torn open and she got busted for receiving marijuana in the mail. Turns out it was actually tea she had ordered from a tea company. She was exonerated... but she was busted first and mistreated, frightened, and embarrassed. Her bust made the news. I certainly don't need that kind of fright.*sigh*
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Comment #21 posted by BGreen on May 03, 2011 at 21:24:13 PT - I like them already
From their website:We offer over 420 varieties of loose tea. :)The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #20 posted by Hope on May 03, 2011 at 21:00:08 PT
Upton Tea. That's funny. Lipton and Upton.I'll order some. I like good loose tea best of all. I like making it by the potful in my coffee maker and diluting it. If the tea is good to begin with... it's a delightful way to brew it and easy to clean up. Thanks for the link.
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Comment #19 posted by Hope on May 03, 2011 at 20:54:23 PT
I wouldn't dare grow any! No way. I'm less afraid of cancer than I am the law. My God will get me through this as long as He wants to. Of course I know I have to try to live as healthily as I can.I do need to start brewing green tea. I'm not a big tea drinker, but I ought to do it. I very rarely drink tea. I like that bottled green tea but it's spurned by connoisseurs of green tea as not having the health benefits of freshly brewed green tea. I like it better than tea I've brewed.I take vitamins religiously. I try to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Triple-negative is a very aggressive sort of breast cancer and bad about coming back. The prognosis is generally worse than for other breast cancers.... but I could be in that percent that never have it come back. That's my hope. I hate cancer. I don't ever want to have it in me or on me again. I'd not have anyone get it. I'm thankful cancer isn't the death sentence it once was. I wish it could actually be cured more gently. Perhaps, in time. 
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Comment #18 posted by runruff on May 03, 2011 at 19:01:33 PT
Eat my words!
If this Lady does all that, I may have to eat my words I've said about her.I will, gladly.
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Comment #17 posted by Hope on May 03, 2011 at 17:50:23 PT
That's some goodness and some love there.
Some respect for the endowed rights of human kind. Some respect. Some righteousness and not self-righteousness. "Gregoire, the chair of the National Governors Association, now says she wants to work with other states to push for changes to federal marijuana laws to resolve the legal disputes caused by what she described as prosecutors reinterpreting their own policies."I admire and really appreciate that.
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Comment #16 posted by Sam Adams on May 03, 2011 at 17:48:29 PT
green tea
IMO this place has the best tea in the United States. If you select "Green" tea and then type "organic" into the search field you will get a list of 30+ organic green teas. Even the cheapest ones will be excellent and fresh, which is more important with green tea than black. I try to drink 2 huge pots every day:
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Comment #15 posted by Sam Adams on May 03, 2011 at 17:45:01 PT
Wow, very sorry to hear things have turned to the worse in Canada.If it's anything like here, the entire system is skewed to eliminate progressive voters. I think we're all finding out that big money can easily overwhelm the voting/representation system here and in Canada. I think Canada has a parliamentary system, it's a shame they still can't do better. I wish Quebec had seceded, they are very in favor of cannabis reform. Actually, the same conservative interests are likely what kept them from seceding. I don't trust voting anymore. Every time Quebec votes to secede it loses by 1%, that is highly suspect.Hope I'm happy to hear that you have won this round against cancer! It sounds like maybe growing your own medicine is a good idea for the long term, if you can manage it.There are a lot of things that fight cancer, here is a brief list that I"m aware of - drink as much green tea as you can, eat walnuts, avoid sugar, avoid alcohol.  Vitamin D and some other vitamins.I highly recommend this book, I found it extremely useful - this guy is a US doctor and as such brainwashed to not think about cannabis but there's a ton of other great info in here: 
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Comment #14 posted by Hope on May 03, 2011 at 15:51:13 PT
Is Canada one of those countries
where citizen's have to vote?Whatever happened... it's obvious the Conservatives got out there and got the vote. It's a shame. I think. I don't understand how the Canadian government works as well as I thought I did. I thought they had this election because they were unhappy with the Conservative leadership.
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Comment #13 posted by Hope on May 03, 2011 at 15:48:33 PT
Bush didn't start it. Nixon did. None of them coming after him, and right up until now, did much to stop it, either. Some tried a little here and there... but none accomplished it and some even escalated the "war" against the plant and the people that used it. People still die because of the illegality of the cannabis plant. It's a plant that is likely much better for most humans to consume and mankind to make use of in many ways... than not. Some may have failures or death directly related to their use of cannabis. There's a risk in everything. Absolutely everything. But it's for sure, not as many as have suffered because of the prohibition. I'm a pretty good risk assessor and it's obvious to me that the greater risk to society and all individuals, as concerns cannabis, is that the prohibition of humankind's use of the plant is infinitely more "dangerous" than the legal use of the plant could ever be.
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Comment #12 posted by dongenero on May 03, 2011 at 14:50:25 PT
With Harper I always felt like Canada just walked up to the same mud puddle the US stumbled into with Bush, and then stepped right into it themselves.Now, they just fell backwards into it again.Why anyone would continue following the disastrous conservative policies the US followed the last 10+ years?
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Comment #11 posted by Vincent on May 03, 2011 at 13:05:33 PT:
The Canadian elections
I just read the articles re: the election results in Canada. Sadly, the ANIMALS have won. Most of you want to change things through the electoral process. I'm sorry, but I still believe the Che Guevara method is the most effective. I think that the election's results in Canada will prove my point.
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on May 03, 2011 at 12:28:20 PT
Afterburner.... I'm so disappointed with what's 
happening in Canada. What a bummer.Ripit... I'm sorry you're in such a predicament of being denied your medicine.I often wonder if I'd consumed more cannabis... and I didn't very much over the last thirty years or so, if my body might have fought cancer off before it developed like it did. Now I'd like very much to be able to use it as a supplement for prevention of the cancer returning. But I can't. Texas and the Feds won't let me and it seems so wrong and unfair. I had the kind of cancer that they don't have any more treatment for... like those pills that some people take... except they recommend Vitamin D. That's all I've got. My doctor says the kind of cancer I had, Triple Negative breast cancer is "A bad actor". Whatever that is... it isn't good. I sure wish I was allowed to take cannabinoid supplements along with the vitamin d. I want to live as long and healthy a life as I can. I have a little trouble keeping my hopes up sometimes. Things need to change quickly for the better... for a lot of people like you and I.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on May 03, 2011 at 12:01:20 PT
I'm so sorry. The Canadian e-mail news I get was sad to read today.
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Comment #8 posted by afterburner on May 03, 2011 at 11:25:50 PT
Sam #5
Harper has malice for medical marijuana
"If the Conservatives win a majority in the federal election, I want to alert Canadians that this would result in the complete closure of the medical marijuana program at Health Canada, and my likely death."
-- Russell Barth,
Educators For Sensible Drug Policy,
Federally Licensed Medical Marijuana User.
more... NOW, Harper and the Conservatives DID win the majority they have sought for so long. Watch for Tea Party-style social engineering coming to Canada soon! Pray for Canada.BTW, the riding breakdown in Ontario shows the familiar NDP(orange)/Liberal(red) support in the major cities surrounded by Conservative (blue) in the rural and suburban areas. Orange also swept a large Northern area of Ontario where Aboriginals and other voters are skeptical of Southern politicians. 2011 Federal Election Results
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on May 03, 2011 at 11:13:08 PT
I look at so many things in different ways and I think this is a good thing that is happening. (All except for those who jumped in to make money in an industry that wasn't fully legal) ***Chaos Definition: A state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order. ***This Administration understands about medical marijuana. They don't have a problem with it thankfully. The problem is the Federal Law. Now it's time to change the Federal Law because we cannot live in peace until it is settled once and for all.
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Comment #6 posted by ripit on May 03, 2011 at 10:43:53 PT
we need
a push on reSchedule in a big way! the message needs to go out on like facebook and twitter and all the rest like em to force them to listen! like they did in egypt to get whats his face out. get the message out to call and email and whatever else we can do to make fix this now.with all the talk and knowledge thats comin to light these days about the truth why can't we get a plan in motion to get it fixed by next presidential election? how hard could it be to reSchedule?i can kinda see it in my mind but can't fig out how to put it in motion.need to have some of the more outspoken celebs and drug war veterans doin posts(like psa's)of facts and figures of the lies about cannabis and wrongs perpatrated against the american ppl. along with lots of all the benificial things cannabis can do for all of us from all the new scoures of revinue it would provide from the farmers to end users of all the different things we know it can do! sorry for the long rant but i'm gettin more upset everyday by the fact that i'm being denied the medicine i know that works for me by such stupid and greedy ppl. peace! 
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on May 03, 2011 at 10:29:42 PT
don't forget
they're won't be any help coming from the feds on this.Don't forget that Congress votes, almost every year, on medical cannabis. And they vote against it, by 100 votes or more, including many Democrats in opposition. fact from 2004 until 2007 medical marijuana actually LOST nine votes in Congress, losing in 2007 by 262-165.So I'd suggest trying Canada or Europe if you expect help from the federal govt. 
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on May 03, 2011 at 10:24:26 PT
great alternet article
I love this woman! vast new racial undercaste now exists in America, though their plight is rarely mentioned on the evening news. Obama won't mention it; the Tea Party won't mention it; media pundits would rather talk about anything else. The members of the undercaste are largely invisible to those of us who have jobs, live in decent neighborhoods, and zoom around on freeways, passing by the virtual and literal prisons in which they live.But here are the facts. There are more African American adults under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. In major urban areas, like Chicago -- Obama's hometown -- the majority of working-age African American men have criminal records are thus subject to legalized discrimination for the rest of their lives. Millions of people in the United States, primarily poor people of color, are denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement: the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, and the right to be free from discrimination in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits. They have been branded "criminals" and "felons" and now find themselves relegated to a permanent, second-class status for the rest of their lives. They live in a parallel social universe, the Other America.
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Comment #3 posted by afterburner on May 03, 2011 at 10:04:34 PT
Schedule Must Be Changed!
Schedule 2 is no good. If THC (natural or synthetic) & Marinol are schedule 3, natural cannabis should be Schedule 3 or lower -- or better still, unscheduled like lettuce and tomatoes.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on May 03, 2011 at 08:54:17 PT

I believe it is long past due to address the Federal Law on marijuana. This problem can never be 100% completely solved without the Federal Law being changed.It's like someone saying they need to fix a leak in their roof without ever considering the need for a new roof.
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Comment #1 posted by dongenero on May 03, 2011 at 08:42:30 PT

Time for state officials to carry some water
The message is coming from The People up. Voters have sent clear messages to their elected officials via referendums. Nationwide polls back up the trend. The Feds and many state officials still wrongly defy this.It's time for state officials to do some heavy lifting and drive this at the Federal level, on behalf of their citizens wishes. There has been a disconnect of states pushing this to the federal level for their constituents.However, I don't really believe that there are ANY state officials with the courage to do so against the DEA and DOJ.
Our Representatives are soft, while desperately trying to appear tough on crime, or whatever positions they think will keep them on the gravy train. 
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