COULD OBAMA BE WORSE THAN BUSH??? The War On Medical Cannabis Escalates

Signaling an intensification of federal government targeting of medical marijuana providers, the four US Attorneys in California Friday announced a campaign of “coordinated enforcement actions targeting the illegal operations of the commercial marijuana industry in California.” The announcement came at a Sacramento news conference.

The federal prosecutors said their enforcement actions would rely on pursuing civil forfeiture lawsuits against properties where dispensaries are located, threatening letters to dispensary landlords, and criminal prosecutions. The prosecutors said recent dispensary busts in Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego were part of the enforcement campaign.

The feds said that enforcement actions would vary across regions of the state and that they would be working with federal law enforcement and local officials to crack down. The Department of Justice in Washington made clear that this was not an instance of prosecutors going off the reservation.

“The actions taken today in California by our US Attorneys and their law enforcement partners are consistent with the Department’s commitment to enforcing existing federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), in all states,” said Deputy Attorney General James Cole. “The department has maintained that we will not focus our investigative and prosecutorial resources on individual patients with serious illnesses like cancer or their immediate caregivers. However, US Attorneys continue to have the authority to prosecute significant violations of the CSA, and related federal laws.”

Medical marijuana supporters were quick to charge the Obama administration with waging a renewed war on them and reneging on its promises to not interfere in states where medical marijuana is legal.

“Aggressive tactics like these are a completely inappropriate use of prosecutorial discretion by the Obama administration,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s largest medical marijuana advocacy group. “President Obama must answer for his contradictory policy on medical marijuana.” On the campaign trail and in the White House, President Obama pledged that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state [medical marijuana] laws.”

“It is unconscionable that the federal government would override local and state laws to enforce its will over the will of the people,” said ASA spokesperson Kris Hermes. “States must be allowed to enforce their own laws without harmful interference from the Obama administration.”

“The Obama administration’s latest moves strongly suggest that their medical marijuana policies are now being driven by overzealous prosecutors and the anti-marijuana ideologues who dominated policymaking in past administrations,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Barack Obama is betraying promises made when he ran for president and turning his back on the sensible policies announced during his first year in office. Instead of encouraging state and local authorities to regulate medical marijuana distribution in the interests of public safety and health, his administration seems determined to recriminalize as much as possible. It all adds up to bad policy, bad politics and bad faith.”

Large medical marijuana dispensary operations are not health care providers but criminal organizations hiding behind patients, the prosecutors claimed Friday.

“Large commercial operations cloak their moneymaking activities in the guise of helping sick people when in fact they are helping themselves,” said Benjamin Wagner, US Attorney for the Eastern District of California. “Our interest is in enforcing federal criminal law, not prosecuting seriously sick people and those who are caring for them. We are making these announcements together today so that the message is absolutely clear that commercial marijuana operations are illegal under federal law, and that we will enforce federal law.”

“The California marijuana industry is not about providing medicine to the sick,” claimed Laura Duffy, US Attorney for the Southern District of California. “It’s a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law. In addition to damaging our environment, this industry is creating significant negative consequences, in California and throughout the nation. As the number one marijuana producing state in the country, California is exporting not just marijuana but all the serious repercussions that come with it, including significant public safety issues and perhaps irreparable harm to our youth.”

The prosecutors said they had sent out “dozens” of threat letters to dispensary and grow-op landlords in the past few days. In the Southern and Eastern districts, they targeted building owners, while in the Central district they sent letters to landlords “in selected cities where officials have requested federal assistance.” In the Northern district, they targeted their threat letters to landlords of dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools or parks, but warned “we will almost certainly be taking action against others.”

The prosecutors also said they had already filed seven civil forfeiture complaints against properties where landlords allow dispensaries to operate. One complaint alleged that an Orange County strip mall had eight dispensaries and that recalcitrant city officials had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to shut them down.

One letter targeted the landlord for the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM) in Fairfax, which has been operating with the support of the city and without complaint since 1996. In a letter to MAMM’s landlord, the US Attorney for Northern California warned that the dispensary was operating within a “prohibited distance of a park.” The letter threatened MAMM’s landlord with up to 40 years in federal prison, seizure of his property, and forfeiture of all rental proceeds for the last 15 years if he doesn’t evict MAMM.

Similar letters have gone out to other dispensary landlords warning them of pending federal action because their tenants are too close to schools. The dispensaries are operating in accord with California law, which treats them like liquor stores and bars them from operating within 600 feet of a school, but federal law imposes additional penalties for the distribution of controlled substances with 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, and public parks. MAMM is situated more than 600 feet but less than 1,000 feet from Bolinas Park in Fairfax.

“This is nuts,” said Greg Anton, attorney for the Marin Alliance and its director, Lynnette Shaw. “There’s a dispensary near where I live that sells guns, narcotics, alcohol and tobacco and it’s full of children. It’s called Walmart, and it’s safe. So is Lynnette’s place. She’s proven that over 15 years.”

“This is an outrageous abuse of law enforcement resources for the DOJ to use property forfeiture to enforce meddlesome, nanny-state regulations,” said California NORML director Dale Gieringer. “The federal government has no business dictating local zoning decisions. No one has any problems with the Marin Alliance except the bureaucrats in Washington.”

The DEA is also along for the ride. “The DEA and our partners are committed to attacking large-scale drug trafficking organizations, including those that attempt to use state or local law to shield their illicit activities from federal law enforcement and prosecution,” said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. “Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that its distribution and sale is a serious crime. It also provides a significant source of revenue for violent gangs and drug organizations. The DEA will not look the other way while these criminal organizations conduct their illicit schemes under the false pretense of legitimate business.”

And so is the IRS. “IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to work with our law enforcement partners and lend its financial expertise to this effort,” said IRS chief of criminal enforcement Victor Song. “We will continue to use the federal asset forfeiture laws to take the profits from criminal enterprises.”

Friday’s announcement of a federal crackdown is just the latest in a series of moves against medical marijuana providers by the Obama administration. The Department of the Treasury has been busily scaring banks into shutting down the accounts of providers in California and Colorado, the Department of Justice is aggressively prosecuting dispensary operators in Montana and elsewhere, and the IRS is attempting to drive dispensaries out of business by denying them standard business expense deductions — Oakland’s Harborside Health center was just this week hit with a $2.5 million tax bill after the IRS disallowed its standard business deductions.

Meanwhile, the administration has continued to block federal approval of medical marijuana, with the DEA recently rejecting a nine-year-old petition to reschedule pot, saying it would only accept large-scale, controlled FDA trials. But at the same time, the DEA has acted to block such trials by refusing to allow a private production facility to supply marijuana for medical research. The only existing source for marijuana for research purposes is the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, but it recently blocked a request for marijuana to study its effects on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, saying it has no intention of allowing studies that would develop marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“How can the Obama administration say that it’s fine for sick people to use this proven medicine, and yet tell them they can’t have any legal place to get it?” asked Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Medical marijuana isn’t going away. Over 70% of Americans support making medical marijuana legal, and 16 states allow it.”

But not the federal government. Not under George Bush and, it is increasingly clear, not under Barack Obama. With Obama facing no challengers in the Democratic primary and with reform-friendly Republicans unlikely to win the Republican nomination, it appears that medical marijuana is going to be condemned to wander through the political wilderness for the foreseeable future.

The question now becomes whether any sort of response can stem the federal onslaught, and just what that response might be. Or does the dispensary scene just wither away and die?

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: alternet.org
Author: Phillip Smith
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: AlterNet

A Drug Arrest Every 19 Seconds, Says Latest US Data, Marijuana Arrest Totals Down Slightly

US Arrests FBI Uniform Crime Report arrests 1980-2010 for marijuana possession and trafficking/sales as well as for violent and property crimes.

Crime – Data

(1980-2010 – Total, marijuana and drug arrests by year) Although the intent of a ‘War on Drugs’ may have been to target drug smugglers and ‘King Pins,’ over half (52.1%) of the 1,638,846 total 2010 arrests for drug abuse violations were for marijuana — a calculated total of 853,839. Of those, an estimated 750,591 people (45.8%) were arrested for marijuana possession alone. By contrast in 2000, a total of 734,497 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses, of which 646,042 (40.9%) were for possession alone. From 1996-2010, there were 10.1 million arrests for marijuana possession and 1.4 million arrests for the sales and trafficking of marijuana, equaling a total of 11.5 million marijuana arrests during that fifteen year time frame.

More than 1.6 million people were arrested for drug offenses in the US last year, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report 2010, and more than half of them were for marijuana. That’s a drug arrest every 19 seconds, 24 hours a day, every day last year. The numbers suggest that despite “no more war on drugs” rhetoric emanating from Washington, the drug war juggernaut is rolling along on cruise control.

Overall, 1,638,846 were arrested on drug charges in 2010, up very slightly from the 1,633,582 arrested in 2009. But while the number of drug arrests appears to be stabilizing, they are stabilizing at historically high levels. Overall drug arrests are up 8.3% from a decade ago.

Marijuana arrests last year stood at 853,838, down very slightly from 2009’s 858,408. But for the second year in a row, pot busts accounted for more arrests than  all other drugs combined, constituting 52% of all drug arrests in 2010. Nearly eight million people have been arrested on pot charges since 2000.

The vast majority (88%) off marijuana arrests were for simple possession, with more than three-quarters of a million (750,591) busted in small-time arrests. Another 103,247 people were charged with sale or manufacture, a category that includes everything from massive marijuana smuggling operations to persons growing a single plant in their bedroom closets.

The stabilization of drug arrests at record high levels comes as the FBI reports all other categories of crime are dropping. Violent crime was down overall, with murder decreasing by 4.2% and robberies by 10.0%, while property crime was also down overall, with burglary and larceny declining by more than 2% and motor vehicle theft and arson down by more than 7%.

Drug arrests were the single largest category of arrests, accounting for more than 10% of all arrests in the country. They were followed by drunk driving arrests (1.41 million) and larceny arrests (1.27 million). More than three times as many people were arrested for drugs than for all violent crimes combined (552,000) and nearly as many as for all property crimes combined (1.643 million).

African-Americans continue to be arrested for drug offenses in disproportionate numbers. Blacks accounted for 31.8% of all drug arrests last year, while according to the US Census Bureau, they constitute only 12.6% of the national population.

The high drug arrest numbers were grist for the mill for drug war critics.

“This shows that, contrary to what Obama and Kerlikowske say, the war on drugs is not over,” said Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance. While conceding that the vast majority of drug arrests are conducted by state and local law enforcement, “the Obama administration sets the tone,” he argued. “Kerlikowske said he ended the war on drugs—not the federal war on drugs—but federal money absolutely subsidizes state and local drug arrests by funding programs like the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program and the COPS program. They are supposed to be setting national policy, but they’re not doing a very good job of leading by example.”

“Since the declaration of the ‘war on drugs’ 40 years ago we’ve arrested tens of millions of people in an effort to reduce drug use,” noted Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop who now heads the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “The fact that cops had to spend time arresting another 1.6 million of our fellow citizens last year shows that it simply hasn’t worked. In the current economy we simply cannot afford to keep arresting three people every minute in the failed ‘war on drugs. If we legalized and taxed drugs, we could not only create new revenue in addition to the money we’d save from ending the cruel policy of arresting users, but we’d make society safer by bankrupting the cartels and gangs who control the currently illegal marketplace.”

While national drug reform groups had harsh words for the policies leading to the overall drug arrest figures, marijuana reformers were equally critical when it came to the herb and the arrests it generates.

“Today, as in past years, the so-called ‘drug war’ remains fueled by the arrests of minor marijuana possession offenders, a disproportionate percentage of whom are ethnic minorities,” said NORML deputy director Paul Armentano. “It makes no sense to continue to waste law enforcements’ time and taxpayers’ dollars to arrest and prosecute Americans for their use of a substance that poses far fewer health risks than alcohol or tobacco.”

“It’s pretty obvious that we continue to spend billions a year arresting nearly a million people for marijuana related crime, yet use had not fallen dramatically,” said Morgan Fox, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “That shows that this is just a waste of time and money. It’s really disingenuous for the Obama administration and the drug czar to say they are concentrating on public health measures and harm reduction and moving away from law enforcement, and then release numbers that show that was not the case, that the arrest rates are staying the same.”

Fox noted that pot arrests accounted for 5.7% of all arrests nationwide. “If the drug czar says we can’t arrest our way out of the drug problem, then why are we spending one-twentieth of our law enforcement resources arresting people for nonviolent, victimless crimes?” he asked. “We could be using those resources for solving rapes and murders.”

More than a decade of drug reform efforts have managed to slow what once seemed to be endless annual increases in drug arrests in the US, but stabilizing at around 1.6 million drug busts a year is not victory, only the first step in putting the brakes on the drug war juggernaut. Now, it’s time to start concentrating on bringing it to a screeching halt.

Washington, DC

United States

A Dr’s Perspective: “It’s Time For Feds To Legalize Marijuana”

Source: ocregister.com
Author: Joseph B. Michelson, M.D.

Karen R., a victim of ovarian cancer, age 35, is aware of her prognosis. Dying, like birth, and every other stage of living, is difficult, she often ponders. Her chemotherapy, which offers a partial or perhaps full redemption, is arduous at best: she suffers violent nausea and vomiting during her very necessary phases of chemo: connected (“chained”) to an IV, her repose on the gurney is interrupted, quite quickly, by her urgent anxiety, pulling her IV alongside, to the rest room to vomit her guts out.Lately, however, Karen avails herself of a candy bar, in between the “bag” changes on her IV pole. Her nausea interruptions are much less frequent and urgent, and she is calmer, and happier with herself… …the necessary torments of scheduled chemotherapy are so much easier to take now. 
“What has made the difference?” asks her anxious, but very curious fellow chemo. victim on the next gurney.
“My candy bar… …would you like to try one?”
“Why? What is it?”
“Medical marijuana, ” Karen smiles. “It makes the whole ordeal easier…”
She hands her chemo-bed-fellow her bar. “Here, take a bite. It’s chocolate …”We live in the enlightened times of approval of medical marijuana. California, and 16 other states have approved the use of Cannabis (marijuana) for chronic disease, authorized by a physician, and it is especially of help to cancer patients and chemotherapy recipients. It cannot be “smoked” in the atmosphere of the chemotherapy clinics, since the ambient smoke might prove offensive to those with asthma and C.O.P.D. (emphysema). But it can be ingested in a variety of forms: pills, soda-pop, brownies, cookies, candy, etc.Marijuana has a long history of use as a drug or agent of euphoria. It is documented in Chinese medical compendia from as early as 2730 B.C.E., from where it spread to India, then North Africa, which stimulated its travel by traders to Europe by 500 A.D. It was listed in various pamphlets and books of the U.S. pharmacopeia from 1840-1972 for use in “labor pains, nausea, and rheumatism.” It was then considered unlawful by the government. In the 1930s the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics considered marijuana dangerous and addictive. By the 1970s, the U.S. Government classified marijuana, along with others, as class 1 drugs: having the relatively highest abuse potential and no accepted medical use.This judgment follows on the hundreds of years acceptance and use of marijuana and other plants of medicinal and ritual (religious) use by Native Americans.In spite of this confused and confusing history, marijuana is currently made into a drug: marinol (dronabinol). It is legal in the Netherlands, Canada, Spain and Austria as a medicine for the amelioration of nausea and vomiting in various medical conditions, the stimulation of hunger in patients on chemotherapy regimens and with A.I.D.s who suffer “wasting” syndromes, it lowers eye pressure in patients who suffer glaucoma, and it works wonders as an analgesic — pain reliever — in many situations. It has also been shown to be of benefit in neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Tourette’s Syndrome. Unfortunately, marinol does not demonstrate as much effectiveness as other medications (with more major side effects) as “unrefined” marijuana. So the unorthodox means of administration of marijuana—smoking, eating, drinking: appear to be more effective than the accepted medicinal form of a simple pill. Perhaps there are elements in marijuana, over and above the simple tetra hydro cannabinol (THC) that contribute to its medicinal effects.Whatever, there should be no resistance to the use of marijuana as a medication — especially for cancer patients. An argument arises that physicians would be making these patients marijuana addicts. But they are already addicted to narcotics, and use of marijuana is also used to reduce patients’ dependence on narcotics. We needn’t discuss and weigh the alternatives of c****** addiction, narcotic addiction, even alcohol addiction in terms of society costs (altercations, deaths, DUI’s, etc.) vs. whatever minimal “costs” are attributed to marijuana.What is needed now is for the government to recognize what our medical care-givers already recognize: the powerful, medical use of marijuana.What is needed more is for the government to sanction and oversee the medical distribution of marijuana so that its dosage and administration is uniform. What do I mean? If I tell a patient to take an aspirin, say 300 mg. of salisylic acid, they are able to obtain 300 mg. How do we administer marijuana? Please smoke a reefer after chemo, or enjoy a candy bar during chemo?It is time for the federal government to step up to the plate.