Oct 11 2011

U.S. Out of California

Posted by J. Craig Canada in business, cultivation, distribution, law, legalization, politics, raids

Click the image to sign the petition:

Stop all current DOJ, DEA, ONDCP, and IRS attacks
against medical cannabis dispensaries in California.

If clicking the image takes you to an “under maintenance” screen, that means the government has the URLs rigged so that I can’t link directly to the petition from here. Go to https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petitions/popular/0/2/0/ and search on “cannabis”. (It doesn’t contain the word “marijuana”.)

With public support for medical marijuana as much as double (at 60-80%) that of the President (at 41%), the Obama administration declared all-out war on medical marijuana in California and across the country last week with the announcement that federal law “takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana.”

“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.”

This dramatic escalation in the war by the government against the people comes almost exactly two years after the New York Times announced, on 19 Oct 2009, “U.S. Won’t Prosecute in States That Allow Medical Marijuana.”

The Los Angeles Times slants their coverage with the following lead-in:

California’s U.S. attorneys say they are going after for-profit marijuana sellers.

And they reinforce that it is only about “for-profit sales” in the second paragraph with this statement:

California’s four U.S. attorneys said Friday that they are taking aim at large-scale growers and dispensary owners who are raking in millions of dollars while falsely claiming that their medical marijuana operations comply with state law, which does not allow for-profit sales.

By the 4th paragraph we learn that the U.S. Attorney General for the Central District actually said that it is the “brick-and-mortar, Costco-Wal-Mart-type model” that is under attack; that this violates federal law and is not what California had in mind when it passed Prop. 215.

(Never mind that the author of Prop. 215 was the proprietor of The San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club and the campaign headquarters for the initiative was in the first floor of The Club.)

By the 12th paragraph the LA Times admits that this has nothing to do with “for-profit sales” when it tells us that U.S. Attorney Birotte “has focused on 38 dispensaries in 13 cities” that have passed local bans against dispensaries.

It fails to inform us that those bans violate both the spirit and the letter of Prop. 215 which guarantees patients the right to “obtain” marijuana for medical use, as well as California’s equal protection laws which prohibit (for instance) wet/dry counties.

One of the more astonishing quotes reported by the LA Times was that of Jane Usher, special assistant attorney to the City of Los Angeles:

“We’re gratified that they see what we see, which is what began as an opportunity to help seriously ill patients has evolved into storefront drug sales and trafficking,” she said.

If the problem is “storefront drug sales and trafficking”, why aren’t they going after CVS and Rite-Aid?  Particularly, since pharmaceuticals (as prescribed) are the 4th leading cause of death in this country?

This current assault is part of a multi-pronged attack which includes raids in March of 27 medical marijuana dispensaries in Montana, and (during recent weeks) federal raids of medical marijuana gardens in Oregon and the seizure of medical marijuana provided by the federal government to Elvy Musikka.

The San Francisco Weekly reports:

The Internal Revenue Service has determined that dispensaries can’t claim the cost of their product on their taxesthe Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms decided medical marijuana users can’t use guns; every major financial institution has closed down medical marijuana-related accounts, leaving dispensaries with no banking options, and just this week, a cease-and-desist letter from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag showed up in some dispensaries’ landlords’ mailboxes. It informed them that their properties could be forfeited and their tenants could be thrown in prison for 40 years unless the dispensaries close.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has blocked a study on marijuana and PTSD proposed by The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and Covington & Burling (a law firm that makes a living representing Big Pharma) is suing the government pro-bono on behalf of MAPS.  Some fear this is like the fox guarding the hen house.

What’s it all about?

While the mainstream media is long on criticism of the War on Drugs and The Obama Administration, it is astonishingly reluctant to blame the real villain.  Take this comment from Forbes:

This is simply government overreach without even the faint whisper of a purpose, yet another in a long list of disappointments from this president, whose record on drugs, immigration, and now the assassination of American citizens is even worse than his predecessor

Some suggest it is a reaction to Occupy Wall Street and others a smoke screen to deflect attention from Operation Fast & Furious.

The Wall Street Journal, among others, points the finger at Oakland’s plans to dominate the marijuana market and create a monopoly with prohibitive taxes and license fees and artificial limits:

For example, within the past 12 months, several jurisdictions have considered or enacted legislation to authorize multiple large-scale, privately operated industrial marijuana cultivation centers. Some of these planned facilities have revenue projections of millions of dollars based on the planned cultivation of thousands of cannabis plants.

Oakland’s plains to dominate the marijuana industry were touted far and wide beginning with the passage of Measure F, which was a trial balloon sent up by the proponents of Prop. 19.  Measure F levied a sin tax of 1.8% on medical marijuana, equal to that charged for alcohol, on top of the sales tax the sick and dying were already paying for medicine.

(Medicine is not taxed in this society.  While a doctor’s authorization is required to legally use medical marijuana, because of cannabis’ scheduling on the Controlled Substances Act it does not meet the legal definition of a prescribed medicine.  Therefore, the California Board of Equalization made an administrative decision in 2005 that medical marijuana was subject to sales tax.)

The Oakland Gang of Four followed up on the success of Measure F by spending $1.4 million to put Prop. 19 on the ballot, which authorized government at every level to tax and license and regulate marijuana without limitation, up to an including banning commercial cultivation and distribution at the local level.

The result of Prop. 19 would be a few obscenely rich pot barons paying astronomical taxes and license fees (ultimately paid by their customers) to the government for the service of eliminating their competition.  After the defeat of Prop. 19, which would have decimated Prop. 215 as collateral damage, Oaksterdamn continued with its plans, as reported by Stoners Against Prop. 19 in June:

The Haag Memo was not an unsolicited threat to a state that was quietly complying with its medical marijuana laws. On the contrary, it was a very directly solicited threat, to a city that was blatantly attempting to contravene state medical marijuana law. A little-publicized fact is that the Haag Memo was issued in response to a letter written by John A. Russo, Esq., Oakland’s City Attorney, on behalf of the Oakland City Council. In his letter, Russo informed the US Attorney that Oakland had approved a licensing scheme that would allow for the creation of four industrial, corporate marijuana “mega grows,” and essentially asked Haag for clarification on the law surrounding this idea. The Haag Memo, which has served as a template for other US Attorneys to send similar pugnacious letters to state officials, is her response.

Mega grows came into public consciousness with last year’s Prop. 19 initiative to tax and regulate recreational cannabis. Jeff Wilcox, retired businessman who sat on the steering committee for the failed initiative, had a very ambitious plan to supply a large segment of the California population with recreational and medical marijuana if Prop. 19 were to pass. Whereas the state’s medical marijuana industry is mandated to be non-profit, Wilcox was repeatedly quoted in major media sources as acknowledging that he intended to bring some “corporate structure” to the marijuana industry, and that his mega grow’s expected profit margin was “extremely high.” Furthermore, this venture into the corporatization of cannabis was projected to make $59 million a year off producing a mind-boggling 58 pounds of marijuana per day. This was a clear departure from medical marijuana’s non-profit—and thus, tolerated—roots, and, as we will see later, it was also a flagrant violation of the Ogden Memo’s fragile truce.

When Oakland persisted in their get-rich-quick (off the sick and dying) scheme, Russo resigned as City Attorney.

The fed doesn’t make the kind of move it made last week without months and even years of planning.  It is likely they were waiting, first for the passage or failure of Prop. 19.

If Prop. 19 had passed the feds would have unleashed a wave of raids, and successfully challenged Prop. 19 as violating federal law.   And they probably would have decimated Prop. 215 and the medical marijuana industry as well, since Prop. 19 could be interpreted to supersede and amend Prop. 215.

When Prop. 19 failed, the fed waited for a decision in one of several suits working through the courts which challenged prohibitive local regulations, zoning, and license fees; suits which would not have had a legal leg to stand upon if Prop. 19 had passed.

Among these was a suit brought by dispensary owners against the City of Long Beach.

On October 5th the Long Beach Post reported that the Second Appellate District Court ruled that City’s entire permitting process was illegal because it violated federal law.

This would appear to mean that not only must the City cease its permitting activity — which has consisted mainly of various enforcement actions against collectives (including armed raids) for operating without a permit — but it will likely be compelled to refund all of the approximately $800,000 collected in regards to the September 20, 2010 lottery.

Additionally, it appears the City will have to dismiss all criminal and civil charges, be they against individuals or collectives, related to operating a collective without a permit.[i]

Lastly, the City is likely to face numerous lawsuits from patients and collectives who will claim to have been denied their state-sanctioned right “collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes” by virtue of a permitting process that has been found to be illegal.[ii]

And the next day, before medical marijuana and anti-marijuana-prohibition advocates could celebrate this victory over prohibitive regulation and obscenely high licensing fees and taxes, the U.S. Attorneys started sending out their threats.

Big Pharma runs the government

But none of this answers why the Obama administration has repeatedly ignored popular opinion and the will of the people when it comes to marijuana and medical marijuana.

In a scathing article, The Orange County Register  reported that according to figures released September 19th by the FBI, more people were arrested for marijuana in 2010 than any other year.

Specifically 853,838 people were placed into custody for marijuana related crimes last year, a number that represents 52 percent of all drug arrests countrywide. More amazingly, a whopping 46 percent of all drug arrests were for marijuana possession.

Back in May, East Bay Express reported that the federal government had granted 55 licenses to “unnamed companies” to produce medical marijuana products.  Actually, they reported the licenses were to grow marijuana for medical use, but this was later found to be incorrect.  All of the raw cannabis is to be grown at the one federal marijuana farm in Mississippi.

In other words, if big corporations grow dope with the government and put it in a pill, it’s medicine. But if you grow it at home or at a city-permitted pot farm and then put it in a vaporizer, it’s a felony.

What’s going on here is the government waging war against the citizens of this country at the behest of Wall Street to protect the profits of the pharmaceutical companies.

While Occupy Wall Street has focused on the banks and the stock brokers, the fact is that in 2001 the ten largest pharmaceutical companies on the Fortune 500 had revenues and profits in excess of the other 490 combined.  Big Pharma is the economy.

What to Do?

In the face of this treasonous corruption by the government, what can be done?

One thing is to sign this petition, created 7 Oct 11 at We The People:

If clicking “this petition” takes you to an “under maintenance” screen, that means the government has the URLs rigged so that I can’t link directly to the petition from here. Go to https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petitions/popular/0/2/0/ and search on “cannabis”. (It doesn’t contain the word “marijuana”.)

Stop all current DOJ, DEA, ONDCP, and IRS attacks against medical cannabis dispensaries in California.

In 1996 California residents voted into law the right to cannabis for medical purposes. The law recognizes what humanity has known for thousands of years, that cannabis has medical benefits. Nearly every major medical association in the U.S. acknowledges this fact, as does the federal government in action, having 4 existing cannabis patients whose treatment is funded by American tax payers.

The IRS, DOJ, DEA, and ONDCP are currently attacking providers in California, providers that have paid millions in federal taxes to date, providers that create jobs with benefits for Californians, providers that abide by California State Law.

Get out, get out now! Cease all attacks on peaceful, non violent, honest Californians whom pay their taxes and run ethical businesses.

This isn’t the first marijuana petition at We The People.  In fact, the top petition currently at We The People with 54,636 signatures is to “Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol”.  In fact, 5 of  the top 12 petitions are to end the drug war and federal interference with state medical marijuana programs.

Sign them all.  Search on “marijuana” and sign those, and then search on “cannabis” and sign any you missed:

Petitions by Popularity – We The People, U.S. White House | 10 Oct 2011
Dazed and Confused – The Oregon Mail Tribune | 10 Oct 2011
Feds Blaze New Trail In California Pot Fight – The Wall Street Journal | 6 Oct 2011
Feds target California pot dispensaries for closure – San Jose Mercury News | 6 Oct 2011″
Meet Your New Pot Dealer: Big Pharma – East Bay Express | 25 May 2011
Heath Ledger Legacy: Prescription Drugs a Silent Killer – Hollywood Today | 29 Sep 2008

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