New Federal Crackdown Confounds States 

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  New Federal Crackdown Confounds States 

Posted by CN Staff on May 07, 2011 at 16:46:59 PT
By William Yardley 
Source: New York Times 

Seattle -- Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but that has not stopped a fuzzy industry of marijuana farms and dispensaries from rising to serve the 15 states that allow the drug to be used for medical purposes. Under President Obama, the federal government had seemed to make a point of paying little attention — until now. As some states seek to increase regulation but also further protect and institutionalize medical marijuana, federal prosecutors are suddenly asserting themselves, authorizing raids and sending strongly worded letters that have cast new uncertainty on an issue that has long brimmed with tension between federal and state law. 
How can a drug that federal drug law says is criminal be considered medicine under state law? “It’s weird,” said Kevin Griffin, co-founder of West Coast Wellness, a medical marijuana dispensary that opened here in February. “We’re not a pharmacy. We spent a lot of time gathering information, and this is what we came up with as the most responsible, legal way.” Posters featuring Pink Floyd and Tupac Shakur lined the white walls of the office, in the back of a bland building just inside Seattle’s northern boundary. Glass pipes decorated a shelf. And then there was the medicine, available by “donation only,” which included less expensive “medibles” like lollipops and “pot” pies and the traditional smoked dosages at about $280 an ounce. Questions? Just ask the “budtender” — while you still can. “I’m worried,” Mr. Griffin said. “We might lose something we put a lot of money into.” West Coast Wellness, one of scores of new dispensaries in the state, opened just as Washington appeared ready to approve one of the nation’s most expansive medical marijuana policies, broadening its original 1998 law to include licensing growers and dispensaries. The Legislature passed the measure last month. Yet while Gov. Christine Gregoire had initially expressed support, she instead vetoed most of the bill, specifically citing new concerns about federal opposition. “The landscape has changed,” said the governor, a Democrat. Letters so far have gone out to governors in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, prompting some states — including Rhode Island and Montana, in addition to Washington — to revise or back away from plans to make the medical marijuana industry more mainstream. In Washington, Ms. Gregoire asked for guidance from the state’s two United States attorneys, Mike Ormsby and Jenny Durkan. In a reply to the governor last month, they said the federal government would prosecute “vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law.” The changes have angered supporters of medical marijuana, who say the federal government is sending mixed signals, even as they argue that it has not technically changed its position. “How they’re obviously coming across is saber rattling,” said Alison Holcomb, director of drug policy for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington. “If there has been a shift, then somebody needs to own up to that. We have a very clear memo from 2009.” In October 2009, the Justice Department said in a memorandum drafted by David W. Ogden, then the deputy attorney general, that it would not focus on “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” The memo did not allow farms and dispensaries or the buying and selling of marijuana. In many states that allow medical marijuana, state law does not specify that dispensaries are also legal. The Washington State Department of Health’s Web site specifically says that dispensaries are illegal, as is buying and selling marijuana. It says that people who qualify for medical marijuana are allowed to grow their own. Yet with some states and even the federal government appearing to look the other way, farming collectives and dispensaries flourished. And law enforcement officials at various levels took notice. In Spokane, Wash., federal agents recently conducted searches of seven dispensaries, though no one was arrested. “There didn’t seem to be a recognition that the use and sale of marijuana is against federal law,” said Mr. Ormsby, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. When the Legislature was drafting the bill it passed in its most recent regular session, Mr. Ormsby said, “No one consulted with me about what I thought of what they were going to do and did I think it ran afoul of federal law.” Of the state’s current medical marijuana law, he added, “We believe, of course, under federal law no part of the state law is legal.” Mr. Ormsby and other prosecutors say they agree that the federal position has not changed, and they say they have been given no new directive from the Justice Department (Mr. Ormsby’s and Ms. Durkan’s letter to Ms. Gregoire said they had “consulted with the attorney general,” Eric H. Holder Jr.). A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Jessica Smith, said: “This is not a change in policy. It’s a reiteration of the guidance that was handed down in 2009 by the deputy attorney general.” Ms. Smith noted that the 2009 memo “says definitively that distribution continues to be a federal offense.” Some federal prosecutors say states have simply let medical marijuana get out of hand. Many supporters of medical marijuana agree. “Seeing storefront dispensaries advertise with neon pot leaves is inconsistent with the idea most people have of medical marijuana,” said Ms. Holcomb, of the A.C.L.U. “But until you let states regulate these dispensaries, you have no way to control that.” Some people on each side say the issue could quickly be solved if the federal government reclassified marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug, a category that includes heroin and cocaine, to a Schedule 2 drug, which includes medicines that can be prescribed. “I think the onus is on the federal government,” said State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a Democrat from Seattle who sponsored the bill that Ms. Gregoire vetoed. “Whether the Obama administration is signaling that it’s going to be more aggressive or back off from what’s in that Ogden memo, I don’t know.” Noting that Ms. Gregoire cited concerns that state employees could face legal action for licensing growers and dispensaries, and that prosecutors had insisted that state employees “would not be immune” from prosecution, Ms. Kohl-Welles said: “I keep trying to visualize federal agents going into a state building, the Department of Health, and hauling people off.” She continued, “I can’t conceptualize that.” A version of this article appeared in print on May 8, 2011, on page A13 of the New York edition with the headline: New Federal Crackdown Confounds States That Allow Medical Marijuana.Source: New York Times (NY)Author: William YardleyPublished: May 8, 2011Copyright: 2011 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite:  Medical Marijuana Archives

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Comment #21 posted by Mahakal on May 11, 2011 at 23:04:51 PT
As I recall...
I was pointing out that this completely invalidates the Schedule I classification and shortly thereafter the government went to a special settlement conference the result of which I do not know.
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Comment #20 posted by Mahakal on May 11, 2011 at 22:58:04 PT
Federal court
I am not that infrequently in Federal court recently for a defendant and have very interesting experiences when I am there. I was having a very nice conversation with another person about the NCI acknowledging that cannabis has direct anti-tumoral effects, and a large man came over with a piece of paper he had written on and asked me to please read it. On the paper he had written, "BE QUITE" [sic]. He said he thought he should not have to hear our conversation and was concerned that the judge might hear us (we were in the hallway outside of the courtroom which was in a brief recess), I agreed we would speak softly, and we continued in our fascinating conversation. :)
NCI Cancer report, Page 4
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Comment #19 posted by Mahakal on May 11, 2011 at 22:33:40 PT
I am sorry that you may have thought I did not care about your situation at the time. However I said some things that I think might have been censored if they were indeed reading your mail, and as I assume so it was probably not really as much intended for you as for them to read, and I am sure it did them some good although I don't remember precisely what it is that I said. :)
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Comment #18 posted by runruff on May 11, 2011 at 14:37:28 PT
I feel sad that I must not have recieved your mail. Complains of this nature were heard daily in this inhumane enviorment. Our keepers were very unkind.Please let me give you my heart felt thanks now though. The next best thing to thanking you at the time is to thank you now!If I miss anybody in thanking you, it was because of the extrodinary troubles and times I was distracted by at the time. Everyday in the BoP is a test of your ability to survive in this hostile enviorment.You all knpow how to reach me if you ever need or want to.Peace and love 
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Comment #17 posted by Mahakal on May 11, 2011 at 13:29:45 PT
For what it is worth I sent you mail when you were in custody but never got a reply so not sure if you received it at all or if you were punished for something I said or for what reason you never acknowledge me now. I'm sorry for your experience and hope you have a better life today.
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on May 11, 2011 at 12:06:39 PT
That is a very kind comment. Thank you.
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Comment #15 posted by runruff on May 11, 2011 at 08:08:17 PT
Compulsion is a funny thing.
I feel compelled out of gratitude and affection to mention here some of the people here at C/news.Justgettingby-Is by no means a wealthy person [except in spirit] but made contributions to my commissary on occasion. Thank you JGB.JT in Texas [you know who you are] So generous, so kind. Love and thanks.Ekim thoughtful and kind and generous, thank you, much love!GCW- stand up guy, thank you.I wish i could name all of you here at this moment, but?I will mention all of you as time goes bye unless I am asked not to.The people here on this website have done much to restore my faith in humanity.-Humbly, I thank you all.
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on May 11, 2011 at 06:28:32 PT
museman and runruff
I guess if you sum up why we are here on this earth it would be to help others. When we are able to help we should. When I look back over the years the fondest memories are memories of helping others. When we had our video store one of our customers was a very poor family that had so much love for each other and everyone. They lived in a tiny trailer that was very old. One day a fire consumed their humble home. We decided to go to the Mall and shop for each of the family members. We wanted them to have brand new possessions rather then hand me downs. I will never forget that moment. Money should be shared because when the time comes in your own life people will help you. What you give you will receive.
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Comment #13 posted by runruff on May 11, 2011 at 05:41:04 PT
Museman...As a youngster my parents helped 
bail me out of a few situations. they loved and believed in me. I always worked and paid them back. I made mistakes, I took responsibility. This was good for me, fair to them.All this aside from our knowledge of who we were dealing with. Yes I know your Son, I sure wish him well. I believe he is/will be an asset to himself and the world at large.About FoM-I hope I do not embarrass you here.When i first arrived at the BoP, My wife and I were not able to access any money. I had blisters covering the bottoms of my feet from trying to walk one mile each day in my cell. One mile was 388 times back and forth in my cell.The made in China brogans were made from synthetic material, steel toed and did not fit. Stick and FoM bought me a nice pair of Nike's. At the same time I was released from the SHU [solitary confinement]. For two years I walked at the rec. yard. When I left I gave the shoes to a poor South American fellow who was in there for no crime what so ever and never understood why he was there. He was so thrilled with the shoes, he acted like it was Xmas.I was inspired to tell this because; what FoM says about herself you can believe. A fine and rare person. 
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Comment #12 posted by museman on May 10, 2011 at 19:55:19 PT
The money itself is just something we use.Its the love of money and power, over the love of life that is the problem.I was born in a farmer family in Missouri.I left home with the clothes on my back.I have never had enough money to do anything but get by.
I made my toys. I learned mechanics on my first car, I tried to make my first guitar, but my teenage skill and experience was severely lacking...the point being that I have a sense of value that goes so far beyond the concepts and actual uses of money, that, like other things associated with it, I have little to no respect for.This money that I am throwing back to Caesar -reluctantly I might add- could easily be the cause of much stress, pain, and suffering (all needless of course) - and it is the conscious creation of said circumstance by certain factions in our world -the creation of needless pain and suffering in the illusion of the value of money over the value of ANYTHING else that is perpetuating, and insinuating itself into our lives. And a member of my family had to die for that money to be disbursed. So a portion of the life's work of that honored dead is being robbed in the auspices of 'law, justice, fairness, and service' -I saw the words written on the walls of the place that took the money. Lies, every one.One could get incensed. One could justify war against these usurpers and false bearers of ill-gotten, ill kept, and ill used wealth. But it would be futile and probably self destructive.I have learned, and am still learning, that the only way is Love, Forgiveness, and Mercy. And only those attributes can get us through what I so strongly believe has arrived and still to come.But just as those attributes will provide the foundation for overcoming adversarial, destructive energies (now in power -but not for much longer) those adversarial attributes are nothing but fuel for a hot fire that is already burning inside us. Give it enough negatively charged fuel and we will burn right up.The Truth is beautiful and deadly. But either way it will set you free. There is some ugly mutation claiming to be truth, but that is being revealed for what it is.It is obvious that you and yours have a grip on the situation -no doubt with your own trials concerning it, so I know we are in agreement essentially, though our semantical perspectives may differ.Yashua said; "Render to YHWH, that which is His, and render to Caesar that which is his."Simple and True. And a guideline to dealing properly with it.LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on May 10, 2011 at 18:58:17 PT
Money is a major problem for many people. Money is a means to and end and that's about it. If I have money then I can share it with those who are less fortunate. When I don't have money it's ok too. Money doesn't run our lives. Rich or poor life is good because of relationships and friends. We have had a lot of money at times in our lives and now we don't have much just a Veteran's Pension but we get by. Money is overrated in my opinion.
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Comment #10 posted by museman on May 10, 2011 at 18:31:57 PT
FoM #8
I know, but thank you anyway. Sometimes life gets so weird you are hard pressed to know whom your friends are.We are fine BTW. I spent many hours with my beautiful son convincing him he was strong enough to get through it, and after some time, ass-kissing game playing, and more money, -you know that awful filthy dirty brownish green paper that people kill, lie, cheat, and rise to power with?- everything is most probably going to be alright.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on May 10, 2011 at 12:37:39 PT
W.A. Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced
By Jordan Schrader May 10, 2011 The proposal for legalizing medical marijuana dispensaries through local government regulation was officially introduced today as a bill.You can read the measure here:"Nonprofit patient cooperatives," also known as dispensaries, would have to register with the state as nonprofit companies.One key detail that is clear now that the bill is out: The co-ops would be protected from local prosecution only if local governments take action. They would be allowed in a city or county that passes "an ordinance stating that nonprofit patient cooperatives are not prohibited by local ordinance from operation within its jurisdiction."Since many communities would probably be averse to putting out a sign welcoming marijuana stores, the growing medical marijuana industry and its advocates don't like this "opt-in" system. They would prefer an "opt-out" mechanism. But the industry's lobbying association said today it hasn't yet decided whether to support the bill.URL:
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on May 10, 2011 at 08:59:31 PT
I am sorry to read about your problem. I agree with you too but you know that by now.
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Comment #7 posted by museman on May 10, 2011 at 07:47:42 PT
The law will punish you
 for medical marijuana, regardless of Obama, the State Laws concerning it, or how 'compliant' you are with the 'law.'I recently bailed a son of mine out of jail after he had a domestic dispute with his GF.Not only did they neglect the details of his release, so that essentially we paid money we didn't have to bail him out, but that he would be put on house arrest with an ankle bracelet. The catch 22 was that I have to "relinquish" my Oregon Medical Card in order for him to come home. He is currently confined to the local mission -which is actually a few degrees worse than the jail.So not only is he being punished for my medical marijuana use, but so am I.The 'justification' is that it is a controlled substance, and according to 'law' he can't be around any while on house arrest.Funny thing though, they didn't ask if I used vicodin or oxycodone, or any other 'controlled' substance that might be prescribed to me.Its all about pot and money.And Law Enforcement has become a "For Profit Industry"The law is there to punish you, not protect you. And they will ROB YOU BLIND!!LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #6 posted by dongenero on May 09, 2011 at 09:38:49 PT
MEDICAL MARIJUANA FAILS AGAIN IN ILLINOIS HOUSE the second time in 2011, the Illinois House has voted down a bill to allow chronically ill citizens to use medical marijuana to treat their maladies. "I don't discount the pain and suffering that's going on out there it was a tough vote," said Rep. Jim Watson, R-Jacksonville, who voted against the measure. "One of my ( local ) chiefs of police is a retired DEA agent in Jacksonville, and he was gravely concerned. Every local law enforcement official called me in opposition."Opponents also said the measure would still conflict with federal law, which labels cannabis as a Schedule One controlled substance the highest classification prohibiting all use. "This is not a medicine, this is an illegal substance," said Rep. Patricia Bellock, R-Westmont, said. Bellock said Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed a medical marijuana bill after two U.S. attorneys said action could be taken against state employees who enforced the proposal. 
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Comment #5 posted by John Tyler on May 08, 2011 at 21:10:21 PT
off topic
Today at the grocery store I read an article in Maxim magazine called “Dorm room drug lords” that mentioned a college called Psychedelic U. They did not reveal the name of the college, but it sounded beautiful. 
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on May 07, 2011 at 18:38:06 PT
Crooks, crooks, crooks!
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on May 07, 2011 at 17:40:05 PT

Richard Zuckerman 
It seems like it could be true.FDA Approves Study of Cannabis for PTSD May 05, 2011 The long-maligned field of U.S. medical cannabis research took a step forward with the formal government approval of a study on the efficacy of marijuana to treat chronic post-traumatic stress disorder in war veterans.Dr. Rick Doblin, executive director of the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in Santa Cruz, Calif., said today in an interview that the Food and Drug Administration on April 28 approved MAPS' protocol for a study of smoked and vaporized marijuana use for symptoms of PTSD. Scheduled to study 50 veterans in Arizona with PTSD, the approval represents a generational landmark in cannabis research. It's the first FDA-approved study in 30 or 40 years that will give cannabis to patients for home use, Doblin said.According to the protocol, neurochemical research indicates cannabis may help relieve chronic PTSD symptoms such as anxiety and depression through a variety of interactions with the endocannabinoid system.The study still faces extremely high hurdles before it can begin. It must also be approved by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - which states on its website that it believes smoked marijuana is not medicine. Doblin said NIDA has repeatedly denied approval to MAPS cannabis studies, despite repeated FDA approvals. Doblin said that while the FDA is interested in pursuing cannabis research, NIDA is not."I'm not very optimistic at all. Most studies never happen," said Doblin.NIDA has the unique authority to stop cannabis research, while it may not prevent research on other psychoactives such as LSD, Doblin said.URL:
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Comment #1 posted by Richard Zuckerman on May 07, 2011 at 17:16:00 PT:

I received an e-mail within the past few days claiming the FDA approved a medical "Marijuana" study on 50 Veterans suffering from PTSD in Arizona. Is the report correct?
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