Obama's War on Weed Represents a Strange About-Face on Medical Marijuana

The new federal crackdown on medical marijuana announced October 7 by the four California U.S. Attorneys sent chills throughout the industry. It was a stunning reversal by the Obama administration.

Only two years ago, Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden wrote his infamous "Ogden Memo," announcing that the feds wouldn't bother businesses in compliance with their own state laws.

It proved a dose of Miracle-Gro to California, where pot-selling stores have multiplied since voters approved the state's 1996 medical marijuana law. By late last year, California reportedly had more dispensaries than Starbucks outlets.

The same thing was happening to varying degrees in 17 states, from Arizona to Washington, New Jersey to Colorado. In Florida, Rep. Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth submitted a resolution that would put a medical-marijuana amendment before voters next year, although it's unlikely to make it through the Republican-dominated Legislature.

If a constitutional amendment makes it to the ballot, it's likely to pass; a statewide poll in March found that 57 percent of Floridians favor legalizing medical marijuana.

"There's no question this has gone totally mainstream," says Karen Goldstein, director of NORML of Florida and a former teacher. "Once politicians realize people really want this, they'll have no choice but to get onboard."

But the feds' tolerance isn't quite what it seemed. While legal weed grew to an estimated $10 billion to $100 billion industry — no one's quite sure of the exact figure — activists noticed an alarming undercurrent to the rhetoric: Raids on growers and dispensaries actually increased under Obama.

As hundreds of thousands of state-approved, doctor-recommended patients happily bought their medicine in well-lit stores from knowledgeable "budtenders," the ire of cops and prohibitionists rose.

Marijuana supporters figured Obama would call off the attack. In 2006, he told an audience of magazine editors: "When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point."

The first sign of Obama's subterfuge came in late 2010, as California prepared to vote on a ballot proposition that would have legalized growing and possessing small amounts of marijuana for anyone over 21. Under pressure from teetotalers — nine former Drug Enforcement Agency chiefs begged Obama to oppose the measure — Attorney General Eric Holder said it didn't matter what Californians thought. The feds would continue to bust people regardless of the election.

The measure got 46 percent of the vote, but not enough to pass. Yet the medical side of things kept going strong — too strong for Obama.


After the Oakland City Council prepared last year to authorize large-scale cultivation centers, Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for California's Northern District, issued the first in what would become a series of letters from her fellow attorneys general. She reminded residents — in no uncertain terms — that marijuana was still criminalized under federal law, considered equal to heroin or meth, irrespective of its medicinal value.

Nor did she care what California law said. Her "core priority" would be to prosecute "business enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana" under federal law.

Over the next few months, attorneys general from Maine to Washington wrote their own increasingly menacing letters. In Washington, the feds even threatened to arrest state workers who helped facilitate the industry.

Then the Obama administration released a new letter to "clarify" the infamous Ogden Memo. Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole verified the about-face: The only people safe from arrest were the "seriously ill" patients and their caregivers.

Everyone else? Be warned.

The letter didn't target just those directly involved in the trade. Cole was also threatening supporting industries with money-laundering charges for dealing in the proceeds from marijuana. Obama had launched a full-on attack on industries essential to any functioning enterprise.

Laura Duffy, the U.S attorney from California's Southern District, went so far as to threaten media with prosecution for taking pot advertising. (Disclosure: Papers owned by New Times' parent company, Village Voice Media, accept such ads.)

Banks responded by canceling their weed-related accounts. "Perhaps there may be a few financial institutions here or there that are still accepting accounts," says Caroline Joy, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Bankers Association. "Those facilities don't want to reveal who they are."

The president's push grew louder last month. The U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives bureau warned medical-marijuana patients that they couldn't legally use pot and own or buy guns.

Then came a one-two punch.

On October 5, the IRS ruled that one of the largest California dispensaries, Harborside Health Center, owed $2.5 million in taxes because federal law precluded standard deductions for businesses engaging in illegal activity.

In other words, Obama was not only blowing off state laws. He was declaring that legal businesses were now nothing more than criminal rackets. And he was carving away every tool they needed to function.

Harborside's owner said he'd go out of business if the IRS didn't reverse course. Dispensaries nationwide saw it as a crippling decision.

Obama was seemingly intent on killing an entire industry — in the middle of a depression, no less. Left unexplained was why, especially since he was giving the finger to voters in 16 states just a year before he would face them in his own reelection.

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49 comments
Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

http://www.canorml.org/fedcase...Current California Defendants and Prisoners:

*Kenneth "Kena" AffolterJaime Alvarez-Lopez Amy Teresa ArataMark & Ryan Bagdasarian*Chris BartkowiczGeoffrey Bliss*Jennifer Diane Brown*Israel Cavazos*Jonathan M. ChapmanDavid Chavez*Dustin CostaStanley Jerome Cole*Timothy DellasRobert Dodson, Jr*Timothy Doolittle*Bryan EpisBrian EverettScott & Diana Feil*Dr Mollie Fry & Dale SchaferMark Garcia*Virgil GrantPshyra GrantDavid HardeValerie HerschelJoshua Hester*Gary HulseyDonald Lee Hunt Jr.Donald Lee Hunt Sr.Don KearneyCharles KisorCharles Klaus*Larry Kristich*Eddy Lepp*Charles Lynch*Michael Lombardo*Richard MarinoMichael MartinJesse Monko*Ricardo MontesRonald NaullsAbraham & Winslow NortonPhung Van NyguyenJoseph NunesElizabeth Ramirez Robert Gordon RasmussenThunder Rector*Sparky RoseEd RosenthalVernon RyleeJeffre Sanderson*Luke ScarmazzoJohn Seidenberg*John ShanksB. E. SmithShon SquierErik StacyJames Stacy*John SullivanMonica Valencia*John Wayne WyattAlice Wiegand

* = currently incarcerated

Marijuana Abuse
Marijuana Abuse

 The Drug Abuse Resistance Education sport utility vehicle was at the center of a controversy earlier this year after it was pulled over and New Orleans police discovered marijuana and drug paraphernalia inside on March 8, reports WDSU. ... A memo obtained by the WDSU I-Team shows Sheriff Daniel Edwards sustained the internal affairs 

BeachD1
BeachD1

Ross Perot warned us just as Dwight Eisenhower warned our parents. We baby boomers have Cong Ron Paul & Gov. Gary Johnson warning us to save ourselves. Hopefully, we will act and deselect all incumbent and appointed pols for new faces in old places. The intervention for the pols will need repeated applications till 2020. The lobbyists will dry out and begone by then.  

Steven Peters
Steven Peters

WASHINGTON -- U.S. attorneys have a message for California's medical marijuana advocates: Don't blame Barack Obama. After it was announced that the crackdown on medical pot establishments in the Golden State was a collective decision by the four U.S. attorneys in California and not the result of any directive from Washington, spokeswoman Lauren Horwood emphasized that the administration never even green-lighted the ramped-up enforcement actions.

The only D.C.-based official with whom California U.S. attorneys coordinated, Horwood said, was Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who was chosen by Attorney General Eric Holder, an Obama appointee.

"He's the one who provided the quote for our press release, and he's chosen by Eric Holder," Horwood told HuffPost in an interview. "But we didn't have direct talks with Eric Holder -- not that we wouldn't, he's been out and visited -- but just the way the Department of Justice works, he's not that hands-on on these kinds of details."-----Clearly New Times hear-say makes it into its posts and not facts about the entire story. Cited on several 'credible' news sources on and offline, it's seemingly another attempt to viciously blame and jab Obama with every chance New Times gets - despite factual information contrary to their story.

http://huff.to/w0rgXK

BeachD1
BeachD1

The POTUS does seem to be jumping in the muck and wallowing with the ignorant or the mindless. Well, nevermind , we got Ron Paul & Gary Johnson ,and more, WE ARE 99%.

Billy Ray Sumbich
Billy Ray Sumbich

Oh, BTW, it doesn't matter how many quacks in california or other places prescribe pot as a treatment of any medical condition. Federal law trumps state law. Federal law makes pot Illegal, despite what the states rule. The feds are busting the cannabis shops left and right.

BeachD1
BeachD1

Hey ya' B Sumbich, y'all so' do be ignoRANT....and rude to trutherisms.

Billy Ray Sumbich
Billy Ray Sumbich

There is NO CIVILIZED COUNTRY on this planet where Marijuana is legal. NOT ONE.I wouldn't expect this to change anytime soon.

BeachD1
BeachD1

Hey B. Sumbitch, Y'all are ignoRANT...

Steven Peters
Steven Peters

EcuadorMexicoCambodiaPeruSpain

All decriminalized (legal) marijuana use. Although "civilized" can be a very subjective term.

I would expect that the research into the use of medicinal marijuana will help further the legalization of it - especially in light that the overwhelming evidence suggests it's helpful in easing pain among other things related to certain illnesses and conditions.

BeachD1
BeachD1

Y'all missed quite the majority nations of medical/personal choice for cannabis. Israel , Portugal, and more. Got Cancer ? Quick, find your neighbor who can help in the 4oz. a week you need to save your life. Or, fly to Israel . The truth is, well, link yourself to www.norml.org

Nealala
Nealala

Ok, I've been questioning some of his decisions, particularly ones that he SHOULD be making, or forcing the republiclowns to make. But he has had no balls when it comes to making the decisions necessary for the good of the country. Now, he is going against his base and the people of each of these states. What is wrong here? Why would a bright guy like Obama make such an asinine decision? Dude, better figure out which side of his bread is buttered, cause if we are forced to vote a republiclown in, we're all headed to hell in a handbasket. And this new breed of republiclown is going to set the basket on fire BEFORE we all have to get into it!

Adam
Adam

Oh I see, let’s get rid of the plant that is not manmade but keep alcohol (which is manmade) legal which has been proven to not only kill the person using it but also the innocent ones who don’t.... nice to see our over educated and over paid politicians at work again. This country is truly going to crap and it doesn’t surprise me that most people that use grow their own. That’s right government, keep spending billions on fighting something that you will never stop especially a plant that you did not create and a plant that needs no manmade chemicals, just Mother Nature.

Patrick
Patrick

Just plain ledsworthless!

jaquebauer
jaquebauer

Obama represents the greatest threat to our freedoms and rights than any man before him.  Obama is creating a Nazi like Police State under your noses.  The Internet is next...You liberals put him in office, so I hope you do better next time you vote.  I will keep my guns and bible, and salute the flag, because Obama has overlooked one thing- 200 million law abiding armed Americans, who form the militia.

Steven Peters
Steven Peters

Wow, your statement has conspiracy theorist and psychopath written all over it.

Try to stop believing what false stories like this brainwash you to believe.

jaquebauer
jaquebauer

I suppose you are a competent Dr of Psychiatry, qualified to make such observations. More likely, you are a leftist Obama commie determined to reduce the US to land of idiots and welfare junkies.

kingralph
kingralph

Obama's a disaster. Ron Paul is looking better and better.

Joelafrance
Joelafrance

this is all about corrupt law enforcement wanting to keep thier over grown budgets and help themselves to the publics money that we can't afford anymore. 

10
10

lol - doesn't this all sound kind of familiar... didn't Bush Sr do the same thing... So Obama is really a Black Bush - or brown or what ever color they are calling him these days. in any case - sure is acting like a Government Oil Party leader since he won the right to sit in the famous chair everyone seems so hell bent on sitting in and doing noting worth a damn once they do.

KOOLTOZE
KOOLTOZE

Retardicants are still trying to force their phoney "moral superiority" on the world, especially here, in the FORMER "land of the free". They're always telling others what they should do and how to do it, like old women who can't let their adult sons and daughters make their own decisions. They are NOT patriots or supporters of the values of our country's founders. They are the exact opposite, traitors to the concept of allowing responsible adults choose their own lifestyle and ways to pursue happiness. They are more like the Taliban than reasonable, moderate Americans should have to deal with. VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE EVERY CHANCE YOU GET !!!

Joshua Jamieson
Joshua Jamieson

and yet there is a certain office in a certain city that has drug enforcement agents and homeland security agents directly across the hall from a doctor giving out pills like they are candy, and yet they do nothing......now THAT is a crime

rickrosio
rickrosio

If you want to see a program model that works go to www.painmanagementspokane.com or www.montanapm.com Here is a program that is disabilities driven and provides tax revenue, livable wage jobs, charitable giving and free hospice.It can work if we will be HONEST about the process

KOOLTOZE
KOOLTOZE

The Florida State Legislature couldn't care less what their constituents think is the correct policy, orwhat they want to see as State law.The Retardican Legislature wants to be "LAW GIVERS", unaccountable to those who elect them, and beholden only to those who BRIBE THEM !!!  They don't realize they are donkeys in the age of the horseless~carriage, but the times, they are a' changin', slowly, even in this back~water cesspool called FLORIDUH !

Truth
Truth

Seems like the pharmaceutical companies have a strangle-hold on Obama. They are probably giving him contributions for his re-election.

rickrosio
rickrosio

If the business models that pay taxes, provide livable wage jobs and give to the poor are allowed to operate then the Citizens who vote should have their voices heard and respected when it comes to medical cannabis

KOOLTOZE
KOOLTOZE

The Florida State Legislature couldn't care less what their constituents think is the correct policy, orwhat they want to see as State law.The Retardican Legislature wants to be "LAW GIVERS", unaccountable to those who elect them, and beholden only to those who BRIBE THEM !!!  They don't realize they are donkeys in the age of the horseless~carriage, but the times, they are a' changin', slowly, even in this back~water cesspool called FLORIDUH !

 
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