Thursday, October 6, 2011

California Vs Obama

Fifteen years ago, California approved the medical use of marijuana. For the most part, it's been working well. It provides sick people with their medication of choice, is heavily regulated as to sales, adds to the economy, and is taxed up the wazzooo.

Back then it was seen as a thumb in the eye of the federal government and a blow for State's Right. I was on board with the idea.

Throughout the Bush administration the pot users of California were facing the threat of the justice department which made it's disapproval clear. It was just a matter of time, I assumed, before we would have the showdown.
I thought the bullet had been dodged with the election of the supposedly more progressive Obama administration.

It looks like I was wrong.

Federal prosecutors have launched a crackdown on some pot dispensaries in California, warning the stores that they must shut down in 45 days or face criminal charges and confiscation of their property even if they are operating legally under the state's 15-year-old medical marijuana law.

There have always been threats, maybe an isolated action here and there, but for the most part medical marijuana has become accepted institution.
"Under United States law, a dispensary's operations involving sales and distribution of marijuana are illegal and subject to criminal prosecution and civil enforcement actions," according to the letters signed by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in San Diego. "Real and personal property involved in such operations are subject to seizure by and forfeiture to the United States ... regardless of the purported purpose of the dispensary."

The move comes a little more than two months after the Obama administration toughened its stand on medical marijuana. For two years before that, federal officials had indicated they would not move aggressively against dispensaries in compliance with laws in the 16 states where pot is legal for people with doctors' recommendations.

Looks like we have a justice department that will sell weapons to Mexican drug smugglers while taking action to remove valid medicine from cancer patients requiring further smuggling and increased profiteering for violent cartels.
Going after property owners is not a new tactic though, Hermes said. Five years ago, the Department of Justice under President George W. Bush made similar threats to about 300 Los Angeles-area landlords who were renting space to medical marijuana outlets, some of whom were eventually evicted or closed their doors voluntarily, he said.

"It did have an impact. However, the federal government never acted on its threats, never prosecuted anybody, never even went to court to begin prosecutions," Hermes said. "By and large, they were empty threats, but they relied on them and the cost of postage to shut down as many facilities as they could without having to engage in criminal enforcement activity."
(Emphasis mine)

The one thing that surprises me about the Obama Administration is that it continues to surprise me at all levels.
I guess none of this should surprise me anymore.


Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

I wish Obama was half the bleeding heart the wingnuts say he is.

I think that things like a drug war draw-down and marriage equality are actually more likely to happen not when "progressives" win, but when conservatives embrace those positions as being consistent with conservatism. (E.g., see David Cameron's remarks this week about how he supports marriage equality because he's a Conservative.) Firstly, because the US is a center-right country, and secondly, because the Democrats are essentially impotent in terms of implementing truly progressive policies.

Mr. D said...

I wish Obama was half the bleeding heart the wingnuts say he is.

Maybe you have different wingnuts out your way, but in my experience the wingnuts understand Obama better than you think, Brian. If you look at what has been animating the Right throughout this presidency, it's been economic issues. The social conservatives in the presidential race are Bachmann and Santorum and neither of them is getting any traction at all. Romney, Paul, Cain and Perry are all talking a lot more about economics than anything else.

And anyone who has spent more than a few minutes watching Obama in action understands full well that he's perfectly willing to throw anyone under the bus. He's a Chicago pol and that's how they roll.

Gino said...

maybe he truly is a marxist... you know... govt control and all that.

nothing says govt control like taking medicine from sick people because its not govt approved.

had breakfast this morning with a friend of mine coming out of cancer. he says the govt approved marinol didnt do much for his appetite, til somebody brought him the real thing.
he's a fomer hippie, sworn off pot since he found Christ 35 yrs ago. he still took the medicine because its medicine in its proper form.
i'm not talking about a pothead here, or somebody who just wanted to get high, but a real true chemo patient trying to stay alive.

Brian said...

Man, I can't even catch a break around here when I criticize Obama...


When I say "wingnuts" I really mean the crazy ones. Not conservatives generally. (Some of my best friends are conservative!)

I am cautiously optimistic about what looks to be a re-orientation of the American right away from social issues and towards economic ones. But I'm not ready to take the Republicans (by which I mean the actual politicians, not the voters) seriously on it just yet. It's just too darn easy to get people all frothy over butt sex and fetuses, and distract them from the fact that you aren't actually doing much to fix the economy either.

Vanesa Littlecrow W. said...

And the worst part about this is that getting legal Marinol is a complete pain in the ass. Even if your father-in-law is on his death bed and has a prescription. :-/

Jade said...

This reminds me of when I lived in Santa Cruz... the DEA busted a medicinal plant place up in Ben Lomand. The farm was peaceful, a lot of cancer patients would go there and stay over for a time.

The city of Santa Cruz protested the DEA by handing out marijuana on the front steps of city hall to anyone with a prescription one afternoon. It was beautiful.

One of the things I miss the most about Santa Cruz is the people.

Gino said...

i totally understand the prohibitionist tendency... but damn it, i'm talking about sick people.
and anybody who would deny medicine that works to sick people are sick at a different level and are unfit to rule the rest of us.