DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart reportedly told a group of sheriffs at a closed-door conference in Washington that she was frustrated by the administration's recent openness toward state legalization. Although Leonhart's remarks were not made publicly, her pointed references to the president could put her job in jeopardy.
"She was honest," Mike H. Leidholt, president of the National Sheriffs’ Association, told the Herald. “She may get fired. But she was honest.”
The administration so far has shown itself willing to let Colorado's and Washington's experiments with marijuana legalization move ahead. But those baby steps toward respecting state legislation appear to have sown dissension at the DEA.
Leonhart, a former Baltimore cop and long-time DEA agent before ascending to the agency's top role, staunchly opposes mainstreaming marijuana use. In 2012 House Judiciary testimony, she refused to answer a question from Colorado Rep. Jared Polis (D) about whether she thought crack or heroin were worse for a person's health than marijuana. She said in December that legalization sends "mixed messages" to high-schoolers, and this month, one of her top deputies told Congress that legalization is "reckless and irresponsible."
Leonhart also appears to have been upset by a flag made of hemp that flew over the U.S. Capitol on July 4 at the behest of Polis.
Bristol County, Mass., Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson told the Herald that "she said her lowest point in 33 years in the DEA was when she learned they’d flown a hemp flag over the Capitol on July 4. The sheriffs were all shocked. This is the first time in 28 years I’ve ever heard anyone in her position be this candid.”
The flag was made with industrial hemp, which is not a drug.
"This shows how shockingly out of touch Michele Leonhart is," Polis told HuffPost in an email Saturday. "You would think that one of her lowest points would have been when she completely embarrassed herself by failing to state the obvious scientific fact that marijuana is less harmful and addictive than heroin. Almost half a million Americans saw her make a fool of herself."
A DEA spokeswoman contacted by the Herald did not comment on Leonhart's remarks, but reiterated the agency's opposition to legalization. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment from HuffPost.
Aside from Obama's statements, it also appears that Leonhart was incensed that the unofficial White House softball team squared off against a marijuana reformers' team in a game covered exclusively by HuffPost. The White House staffers lost.
Tom Angell, founder of the reform group Marijuana Majority, told HuffPost in an email that he doesn't expect Leonhart to be fired for her "insubordinate speech."
"But in light of the president's newfound boldness in speaking out about the unfairness of marijuana prohibition enforcement, he should take the opportunity to significantly reform federal marijuana policy and rearrange the agencies that have mismanaged it for so long," he said.
Via Huffington Post
Share on Facebook
WASHINGTON -- The United States government took a historic step back from its long-running drug war on Thursday, when Attorney General Eric Holder informed the governors of Washington and Colorado that the Department of Justice would allow the states to create a regime that would regulate and implement the ballot initiatives that legalized the use of marijuana for adults.
A Justice Department official said that Holder told the governors in a joint phone call early Thursday afternoon that the department would take a "trust but verify approach" to the state laws. DOJ is reserving its right to file a preemption lawsuit at a later date, since the states' regulation of marijuana is illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole also issued a three-and-a-half page memo to U.S. attorneys across the country. "The Department's guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests," it reads. "A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper; it must also be effective in practice."
The memo also outlines eight priorities for federal prosecutors enforcing marijuana laws. According to the guidance, DOJ will still prosecute individuals or entities to prevent:
- the distribution of marijuana to minors;
- revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;
- the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
- state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
- violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana
- drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
- growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;
- preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
The eight high-priority areas leave prosecutors bent on targeting marijuana businesses with a fair amount of leeway, especially the exception for "adverse public health consequences." And prosecutors have shown a willingness to aggressively interpret DOJ guidance in the past, as the many medical marijuana dispensary owners now behind bars can attest.
U.S. Attorneys will individually be responsible for interpreting the guidelines and how they apply to a case they intend to prosecute. A Justice Department official said, for example, that a U.S Attorney could go after marijuana distributors who used cartoon characters in their marketing because that could be interpreted as attempting to distribute marijuana to minors.
But the official stressed that the guidance was not optional, and that prosecutors would no longer be allowed to use the sheer volume of sales or the for-profit status of an operation as triggers for prosecution, though these factors could still affect their prosecutorial decisions.
The Obama administration has struggled with the legalization of medical marijuana in several states. Justice Department Officials had instructed federal prosecutors across the country not to focus federal resources on individuals who were complying with state laws regarding the use of medical marijuana. But the U.S. attorneys in several states that had legalized medical marijuana rebelled, and what was known as the Ogden memo faced stiff resistance from career prosecutors.
"That's just not what they do,” one former Justice official told HuffPost. “They prosecute people."
As a result of the internal pushback at DOJ, a new memo was issued by Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2011 that gave U.S. attorneys more cover to go after medical marijuana distributors. Federal prosecutors began threatening local government officials with prosecution if they went forward with legislation regulating medical cannabis.
After recreational marijuana initiatives passed in Washington and Colorado in November, President Barack Obama said the federal government had “bigger fish to fry” and would not make going after marijuana users a priority.
Holder said back in December that the federal response to the passage of the state ballot measures would be coming “relatively soon.”
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told HuffPost his office was preparing for the “worst-case scenario” of a federal lawsuit against the law.
UPDATE: 6:15 p.m. -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), who'd been pressing Holder to make a decision and respect the will of the states' voters, applauded the move, saying in a statement that "the Justice Department should focus on countering and prosecuting violent crime, while respecting the will of the states whose people have voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal and medical use." He had previously scheduled a hearing on the issue for Sept. 10.
At issue will be how the U.S. Attorneys will implement the directive. John Walsh, the lead prosecutor for the District of Colorado, has previously aggressively interpreted guidance from Justice higher-ups and targeted medical marijuana dispensaries that were not accused of breaking any state laws, like those that were operating near schools. His reaction Thursday to Holder's announcement might not give Colorado business owners much confidence that he intends to modify his approach.
"Of particular concern to the U.S. Attorney’s Office are cases involving marijuana trafficking directly or indirectly to children and young people; trafficking that involves violence or other federal criminal activity; trafficking conducted or financed by street gangs and drug cartels; cultivation of marijuana on Colorado’s extensive state and federal public lands; and trafficking across state and international lines," Walsh said. "In addition, because the Department of Justice’s guidance emphasizes the central importance of strong and effective state marijuana regulatory systems, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to focus on whether Colorado’s system, when it is implemented, has the resources and tools necessary to protect those key federal public safety interests. To accomplish these goals, we look forward to closely working with our federal, state and local partners."
Via Huffington Post
Share on Facebook
A conservative Republican Utah state lawmaker is backing an unexpected group of advocates: Mormon moms fighting for medical cannabis for their children.
State Rep. Gage Froerer (R-Huntsville) has committed to help Hope 4 Children With Epilepsy, an advocacy group fighting for safe access to cannabis oil. The oil contains little to no THC, the chemical that causes the high in marijuana, but is high in cannabidiol, a compound that may fight seizures in some forms of epilepsy. Though legal in neighboring Colorado, the oil is not legal in Utah.
Froerer said he hopes to change that with his support of the group, which was founded by four Mormon moms.
“If there’s anyone who can do it, it’s conservative Mormon moms from Utah,” joked Hope 4 Children With Epilepsy cofounder Jennifer May in a phone call with The Huffington Post. May’s son, Stockton, 11, suffers from a rare form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome, which causes five to 30 seizures per day.
May told The Associated Press that she used to think giving a marijuana derivative to children was crazy. But after witnessing unbelievable success stories like that ofCharlotte Figi -- a 6-year-old girl who suffers from the same syndrome as May's son -- she changed her tune.
"We’re not expecting this to be any kind of miracle cure," May said. "But the results thus far with the children have been amazing with very little side effects. It’s just something that needs to be available."
May considered moving her family to Colorado to get safe access to cannabis oil for her son. “But we decided it wouldn’t do anyone else any good if we just left and didn’t fight to get this here.
“Some people think we’re crazy for not just going over there and bringing it back,” May said. “But when you think about how often our kids are in the hospital, our choice is between telling our physicians and risking getting in trouble, or not telling our physicians and risking life-threatening drug interactions with our children.”
Instead, May joined other parents of children with disabilities to rally for cannabis oil access in Utah.
May and her cofounders are careful to distance themselves from medical marijuana.
"In Utah, a medical marijuana program is not going to go over very well," May said. "Politicians here have promised to never let medical marijuana in the state and we don't want to be seen as a toe in the door." May said she hopes the state can simply categorize cannabis oil as legal instead of legalizing medical marijuana.
"It’s not making the kids high, it’s shown to be effective, but it’s labeled as medical marijuana," May said. "We want to change that."
After convincing Froerer, that goal may soon be a reality.
In a meeting with Utah's Substance Abuse Advisory Council next month, Froerer will appeal to the council to legalize cannabis oil with a THC content of less than 0.5 percent -- less than that found in hemp oil at the grocery store. He has committed to sponsoring legislation, if necessary.
“As legislators, I think we have a duty to think about what’s best for the people of our state,” Froerer told HuffPost. “If we can provide this without causing any unintended consequences, we should do so.”
There have been no clinical trials testing cannabis oil for epilepsy, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. But there have been examples of success, including Charlotte Figi, the girl with epilepsy from a conservative Colorado military family shown on the CNN documentary "Weed." Regular doses cut her seizures from 300 a week to 1, according to the documentary.
Share on Facebook
By Nick Wing
Attorney General Eric Holder gave a green light on Thursday to two states whose efforts to legalize marijuana had been locked in by legal uncertainty for more than nine months. With that announcement, Colorado and Washington -- both of which passed pro-pot initiatives at the polls last November -- can now proceed with establishing a framework for the taxation and regulation of legal weed for adults.
The administration's decision holds clear and immediate implications for the two states, both of which had been hesitant to act too quickly over concerns that the government might decide to enforce federal law, which still considers marijuana an illegal substance.
But the move also, and perhaps more importantly, throws open the gates for other states to pursue similar pot legalization efforts, so long as they include "strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems." Experts on both sides of the issue have already said they expect to see movement come quickly.
A similar pattern held for medical marijuana. The movement made steady progress up until 2009, when the Obama administration announced it would allow states to implement medical pot laws without federal interference. That promise turned out to be heavily footnoted, but the pledge itself ushered in a flood of ballot and legislative activity that burst the medical marijuana dam over the next four years. Thursday's announcement can be expected to do the same.
Public support for legal pot has surged in recent years at both state and nationallevels, with a majority of U.S. voters now in favor. This suggests that legalization would be most viable in states that allow citizen ballot initiatives. State lawmakers could also potentially take the reins on legalizing cannabis as the issue becomes more mainstream, however, like they did in New Jersey in 2010 with the passage of a bill approving medical marijuana.
Political dynamics are at play, too. Democratic strategists hoping to goose youth- and liberal-voter turnout in 2014 are incentivized to put pot on the ballot, though weed advocates themselves are better off running campaigns during presidential years, when the electorate doesn't skew as elderly as it does during midterms.
Below, the states that are most likely to take the next steps toward legalizing marijuana:
Marijuana reformers in Alaska have been hard at work trying to make their state the next to legalize pot. In June, a ballot measure to tax and regulate pot and legalize it for adult recreational use was certified. Organizers must now collect at least 30,169 valid signatures of registered Alaska voters by December 2013, which would ensure that the initiative receives a vote in the primary election on Aug. 19, 2014.
Pot has already been decriminalized and legalized for medical use in Alaska. A survey of Alaska voters taken earlier this year by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found that 54 percent supported legalizing marijuana.
In June, marijuana legalization proponents began a campaign to gather the 259,213 signatures they'll need in order to get the issue on the 2014 ballot. The language of the proposed measure is rather expansive, and also includes a system of state taxation and regulation.
Marijuana was legalized in the state for medical use in 2010 by ballot initiative. A poll taken earlier this year found that 56 percent of Arizonans supported legalizing some amount of cannabis.
A statewide initiative to legalize marijuana failed in California in 2010, but reformers are hoping to find success in 2014 and beyond. Earlier this month, organizers filed the California Hemp Act 2014, a measure that would legalize cannabis both in its standard and non-psychoactive forms. Beginning Oct. 1, the campaign will have 150 days to gather 750,000 valid signatures from California voters in order to get the issue on the 2014 ballot.
Marijuana has already been decriminalized and legalized for medical use in California. A poll taken earlier this year found that 54 percent of Californians support legalizing pot.
Marijuana advocates in Nevada have yet to mount a large-scale effort to get legalization on the ballot in an upcoming election, as most organizers in the statesee 2016 as their best chance for a push. The liberal bent of the state makes it a popular target for reformers, however, and it's not yet clear whether Thursday's DOJ decision could increase desire for more immediate action.
Nevada has legalized medical marijuana, and earlier this year the state passed a measure establishing a dispensary system to help increase access for sick citizens. According to a recent poll, 56 percent of Nevadans would favor legalizing cannabis for recreational use if the money raised went to fund education.
Medical marijuana legalization advocates in Oregon have already announced plansto campaign for an initiative to be placed on the ballot in 2014. An earlier legalization effort, which was poorly coordinated and widely mocked inside the state, failed in 2012. Organizers believe there is plenty of room for improvement.
Oregon has already decriminalized marijuana and legalized it for medical use. According to a poll taken in May, 57 percent of likely voters in Oregon support a proposal to tax, regulate and legalize marijuana for recreational use.
The Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-pot advocacy group, has announced Maine as one of its top targets for legalization in upcoming election cycles. An initiative circulating through the state Legislature fell painfully short in a state House vote earlier this year, but MPP has announced plans to help coordinate a grassroots campaign to get a legalization measure on the ballot in 2016.
Marijuana has been decriminalized and approved for medical use in Maine. According to a PPP poll released this week, 48 percent of registered voters in Maine believe pot should be legal for recreational use.
The deep-blue New England state is being eyed as a prime opportunity for legalization, with marijuana reform advocates pointing to high margins of support for previous pro-pot initiatives. No official campaign for a ballot initiative has been launched yet, though many predict it is only a matter of time.
Massachusetts has decriminalized marijuana and just last November passed a ballot measure legalizing it for medical use. A February PPP poll found that 58 percent of the state's residents would be in favor of legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis.
Montana has had a checkered history with marijuana laws. Voters passed an initiative legalizing cannabis for medical use in 2004, but opponents have since taken various steps to amend the measure or repeal it all together. Reform advocates remain hopeful that voters will support full legalization. They wasted no time following the 2012 election, filing a ballot question in hopes of putting the issue before voters in 2014.
There are no recent statewide surveys to gauge current support for pot legalization, though previous polls have showed a majority of Montana voters supporting the decriminalizing of marijuana.
Marijuana advocates have high hopes that Rhode Island will be one of the first in the next round of states to legalize. This could come through a ballot initiative, but Rob Kampia, the executive director of MPP, recently said the issue could be ripe for state lawmakers to take on. While there's not yet a high-profile campaign to get legalization on an upcoming ballot, the state Legislature did consider a bill on the matter last session. While lawmakers debated the legislation and invited witnesses to testify on its merits, they never held a vote.
Rhode Island recently decriminalized marijuana and passed legalized medical marijuana around 2007. A PPP poll taken in January found that 52 percent of voters in the state support legalizing pot for recreational use.
Vermont has made strides to scale back marijuana prohibition over the past year, with a successful measure to decriminalize and a separate bill to establish a system of dispensaries for the state's medical cannabis patients. Observers see the state's strong support for the recent reelection of Gov. Peter Shumlin (D), an advocate for marijuana reform, as a sign that voters could get behind a ballot initiative to legalize. There is no large-scale effort toward this end yet, but a legalization bill was introduced in the state Legislature last session. It didn't receive a vote.
Polls have consistently shown Vermonters to be supportive of efforts to scale back prohibition on marijuana.
Share on Facebook
By Robin Wilkey
The National Institute on Drug Abuse released an eyebrow-raising statement to PolitiFact on Monday, denying that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol.
"Claiming that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol cannot be substantiated since each possess their own unique set of risks and consequences for a given individual,"wrote the institute. NIDA, part of the National Institutes of Health, funds government-backed scientific research and has a stated mission "to lead the nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction."
The statement was in response to a declaration by the pro-pot policy group Marijuana Policy Project that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol –- a claim that was the centerpiece of a controversial pro-marijuana commercial aired during a NASCAR race last month.
PolitiFact took the claim to task, comparing marijuana-related deaths to alcohol-related deaths and toxicity levels of the two substances.
As noted by PolitiFact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics reported 41,682 alcohol-related deaths in 2010. The center had no reports listing marijuana as a cause of death.
PolitiFact also noted a study by Robert Gable, an emeritus professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University, that measured the toxicity levels of substances ranging from heroin to marijuana. The study showed that "marijuana is about 100 times safer than alcohol or cocaine."
PolitiFact noted that evidence surrounding the long-term effects of marijuana use is murky. Still, the fact-checker ruled the claim that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol "mostly true."
Mason Tvert, director of communications at Marijuana Policy Project, said NIDA's claim is a new low for the agency.
"Our federal government has been exaggerating the harms of marijuana for decades, but at this point it has gone off the deep end," Tvert told The Huffington Post. "NIDA's statement that marijuana can be just as toxic as alcohol would be on par with the FDA announcing sushi is as fattening as fried chicken."
"This is gross negligence on the agency's part and should be addressed immediately by the White House," Tvert continued. "It is one thing for our federal officials to convey their opposition to marijuana policy reform. It is an entirely different and more disturbing situation when they are conveying opposition to scientific evidence."
Share on Facebook
Raid Of The Day: Florida Cops Raid Cathy Jordan, Medical Marijuana Activist Who Suffers From Lou Gehrig's Disease
3 days ago
3 days ago
On Monday, the Miami Herald posted an article about rising support for legalized medical marijuana in the state of Florida. The article mentioned an pro-pot activist named Cathy Jordan, who uses the drug to mitigate the symptoms of Lou Gehrig's disease. The article mentioned Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake worth), who is sponsoring a bill to legalize the drug. That bill is named after Jordan.
The Bradeton Herald now reports that just hours after that article ran, a team of ski-mask-clad deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff's Department staged a guns-drawn raid on Robert and Cathy Jordan's home. According to Robert Jordan, the cops seized 23 marijuana plants, including the two mature plants his wife uses to treat her illness. They made no arrests.
The raid is a stark example of the troubling trend of using paramilitary police tactics to send a political message. Set aside for a moment the sheer cruelty of sending government agents to separate a suffering, terminally ill woman from the medication that gives her some relief. (And yes, that's a major thing to set aside.) Why ski masks? Why come in with guns drawn? Did the Manatee County Sheriff's Department really think that wheelchair-bound Cathy Jordan and her 64-year-old husband were a threat?
No, of course they didn't. This was about making an example of someone. Cathy Jordan's name is on a bill to legalize medical pot in Florida. So it was up to Florida law enforcement to bring the boot down upon Cathy Jordan's neck.
The police will say they were merely enforcing the law. Nonsense. First, Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube has discretion about which laws he enforces, and to what degree. He doesn't have the resources to enforce every law, all the time. He has to prioritize. And how he prioritizes -- how he uses the resources available to him -- is certainly something the public should consider when evaluating how well he's doing his job. Cathy Jordan's pot plants weren't harming anyone. I suppose it's now up to Manatee County residents to decide if sending a team of cops to take pot plants away from a sick woman was an appropriate use of public resources.
Second, even if we were to concede that Jordan was breaking the law, and that the Manatee County Sheriff's Department has an obligation to enforce that law, how it's enforced is also a matter of policy -- and something for which Manatee County residents can hold Sheriff Steube accountable.
In the end, it's a pretty safe bet that these deputies won't be disciplined or reprimanded, and that Sheriff Steube won't suffer any political consequence for the way this action was carried out.
And that's where all of this begins to get scary. It's one thing for a few bad cops or a power-tripping sheriff to use excessive force to make an example of someone because of a disagreement over politics or public policy. There will always be bad actors. It's how we react that matters. Whether or not the public supports medical marijuana itself isn't really the point, here. You can shut down a pot shop or take plants away from a sick person without pointing guns and donning a ski mask.
Here is the point: If we've reached the point where we're okay with -- or at best complacent about -- the government using violence to make an example of someone because of their political activism, then we've lost our grip on the principles that make free societies free. That these excessive, militarized raids on medical marijuana grows, clinics, and activists have been going on since the 1990s is a strong -- and sad -- indication that we let go of those values a long time ago.
Share on Facebook
Marijuana Possession Arrests Exceed Violent Crime Arrests
Americans are shifting on marijuana. More than half of them think it should be regulated like alcohol and cigarettes, 18 states have passed legislation approving it for medical use and Washington State and Colorado have legalized it for recreational use, but it remains illegal under federal law. And the arrests continue — one every 42 seconds, and 86 percent of those are simply for possession, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
In 2011, marijuana possession arrests totaled 663,032 — more than arrests for all violent crimes combined. Possession arrests have nearly doubled since 1980, according to an FBI report, while teen marijuana use recently reached a 30-year high.
President Obama said last month that going after recreational pot users in states where it is legal is not "a top priority" for his administration, which echoes a promise he made in 2008 not to interfere with states' medical marijuana laws. Since then, his administration has aggressively targeted dispensaries that are in compliance with state law.
Taxpayers have shouldered the cost of arresting and incarcerating hundreds of thousands of people for the possession of marijuana, often in small quantities for personal use. Some national estimates put the annual cost of marijuana arrests above $10 billion, and low-level arrests for marijuana possession cost New York City alone $75 million in 2010. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed decriminalizing possession of 15 grams or less — even when flashed in public view — last week in his State of the State address.
"Every year, this process needlessly scars thousands of lives and wastes millions of dollars in law enforcement resources, while detracting from the prosecution of serious crime," Cuomo said. "It’s not fair, it’s not right. It must end, and it must end now."
Share on Facebook
Wake Up Obama: Medical Marijuana Patients Are Voters
This is a photo of me at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I had just heard one of the most politically motivating speeches of my life from a candidate for president. I was moved to tears, joyous, and inspired. This candidate not only filled me with hope about the future of our nation, but said he would not interfere with access to legal medical cannabis.
As Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), I was ecstatic to be shedding the dark days of the Bush Administration's war on medical cannabis patients. As a patient myself, I felt counted and part of the Change that would be coming to Washington, and I was proud to support and volunteer for Barack Obama's victorious campaign.
For his 2008 campaign, I donated money, I went to rallies to show support, I knocked on doors in VA, and on election night I joined thousands in D.C. who descended on the White House to celebrate and sing "Na, Na, Na, Na, Good bye" to President Bush. I went to sleep that night excited about a new direction for this country that would include me as a recognized medical cannabis patient.
From the beginning, the new administration made supportive statements about medical cannabis, including that the President was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws." On October 19, 2009, we got the policy document we had been waiting for. Then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden issued a memorandum, now know as the "Ogden Memo," instructing U.S. attorneys to limit marijuana enforcement to those operating out of compliance with state law.
With this legal guidance, the medical cannabis movement went to work to pass new state laws protecting patients and those who provided their medication. Advocates, community members and officials spent thousands of hours drafting legislation and regulations in at least eleven states. But when legislators and other state and local officials came close to passing or implementing these laws, they received letters from U.S. attorneys, threatening federal arrest and prosecution.
Dismayed by this apparent reversal in the Obama Administration's policy, patients demanded the president rein in the US Attorneys. Instead we got the "Cole Memo," issued by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, laying out a new interpretation of the Obama Administration's policy. The memo gave the Justice Department free rein in medical cannabis states, to undermine state laws and coerce local lawmakers. The Cole Memo launched an unprecedented attack on the medical cannabis community unprecedented in its scope.
In fewer then fours years of President Obama, we have seen more raids on dispensaries than during the Bush Administration's entire eight-year tenure. The Obama Administration has taken property from landlords, threatened local officials, forced the release of patient records, used the Internal Revenue Service to bankrupt legitimate dispensaries, told banks to purge medical cannabis clients, evicted patients from low-income housing and denied a petition to recognize the well-established medical value of cannabis.
Now as President Obama approaches the vote on his reelection, other medical cannabis patients and I are finding it impossible to renew our support. How can I vote for someone who has broken his promise? How can I vote for someone who can't see very real public health needs? How can I vote for someone who wages war on my fellow patients and me?
There are more than one million legal medical cannabis patients across the country and millions more waiting to become legal. We have friends and family in every state, and there are many of us in states that are key to the Obama reelection campaign: Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.
I care a lot about this country and my fellow Americans, and I have always volunteered for candidates during election years. Now, instead of going to rallies or buying tickets to fundraisers, I will be protesting at campaign stops like the one today in downtown Oakland. Instead of working to elect a president, I'll be joining thousands of medical cannabis advocates at Camp Wakeupobama, a virtual summer camp during which we will press our case to the President.
President Obama, you can move medical cannabis policy forward and win this election -- 74% of voters disagree with your attacks on state compassionate use laws.
Medical cannabis patients will be on the campaign trail, however you can still determine what our signs will say.
Share on Facebook