Government Circumvents State Laws On Marijuana

dea annual report on marijuana

The Department of Justice maintains that there has been no change in the Obama administration’s medical marijuana policy, but that is not true. In a recent statement to Rolling Stone, President Obama said, “I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana – and the reason is, because it’s against federal law.”

However, it also was against federal law in 2008, when candidate Obama did say he would not “use Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws” authorizing medical marijuana. Today, the Department of Justice is waging a full-throated war against medical marijuana dispensaries in California and other states that have legalized it. Thousands of dispensaries have been threatened over this last year alone.

In October, a group of California U.S. attorneys announced that they would focus on medical marijuana outlets. They’ve been raiding area dispensaries ever since. Last week, the office of San Francisco U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag stepped up its offensive by going to federal court to force the landlords of Novato’s Green Door Wellness Education Center and Green Tiger dispensary to forfeit their properties.

Obama is right to note that even though California and 15 other states have legalized medical marijuana, its trade violates federal law. But it is one thing for federal law enforcement to investigate dispensaries that have sold marijuana for recreational use and prosecute offenders. It is overboard when prosecutors raid establishments on a wholesale basis, seize their records and assets, arrest individuals and otherwise attempt to drive dispensaries out of business, even if that means denying access to legitimate medical marijuana users. It is ridiculous when the feds go after landlords who rent to businesses that are legal under state law.

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