Marijuana advocates upset with Obama administration policy

On Tuesday March 15, officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided two medical marijuana dispensaries – Alternative Herbal Health Services and Zen Healing – in West Hollywood, California. The raids were the first to take place in the city since the Obama administration reversed federal policy targeting marijuana dispensaries that complied with state laws.

The day before, DEA raids also swept through Montana, forcing at least one business, Montana Cannabis, to close its doors. One marijuana advocate called the action a “blatant, obvious, calculated, bullying interference by the federal government.”

But wait. Didn’t the Obama administration say it wouldn’t pursue cases against marijuana dispensaries that are legal under state law (16 states have legalized the drug – California and Montana being two of them)?

The answer is more nuanced and complex than most marijuana advocates would like to admit. In 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder did issue a memo that outlined guidelines on federal action, telling authorities not to arrest or prosecute users of suppliers who are not breaking any local laws.

But the Holder memo does not have the force of law behind it, and district attorneys general throughout the country can ultimately decide how they will treat the federally-regulated Schedule 1 drug. Details of the recent California and Montana raids are still largely unknown, as the DEA has yet to comment on why they took place or what was seized.

According to William Kroger, an L.A.-based attorney representing the two West Hollywood dispensaries, the dispensaries both complied with Holder’s guidelines better than most other dispensaries, yet they still got raided.

“The federal government could come into West Hollywood and say…they’re going to go after them,” Kroger told The Daily Caller. “It’s just a numbers game. When they pick your number out of that hat, they pick that number.” He went on to add that there are a number of different levels of regulation a dispensary has to comply with just to be deemed legal by the state.

“My sense is that on one hand, there is this message coming from the Obama administration on medical marijuana saying ‘don’t push this too far,’” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, told The Daily Caller. “But when it gets carried out by federal law enforcement, any nuance in that message gets lost, and people in federal law enforcement try to push it back even further than the Holder memo would suggest.”

“Why does it have to be armed agents? Why the need for a show of force like this?” Nadelmann added, before calling the recent raids “very heavy-handed response by the Justice Department that appears inconsistent with the Holder memo and the general message of the Obama administration.”

Chris Goldstein, founder of Freedom Is Green, and a leader in reforming state laws on the East Coast for medical marijuana, called the DEA raids, “state-sanctioned robbery.”

“The important thing here is they never arrest anybody,” Goldstein told TheDC. “They go in, take the money and the marijuana, and that’s it. It’s essentially a robbery…but where does the money go?”  He went on to say that during raids, the DEA isn’t doing any real enforcement, just “stealing product and cash.”

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  • HylanderK

    ‎”According to William Kroger, an L.A.-based attorney representing the two West Hollywood dispensaries, the dispensaries both complied with Holder’s guidelines better than most other dispensaries, yet they still got raided.”

    Here’s my issue …with that argument. Just because you are following the rules better than someone who is breaking them, does not mean you are following them the way you are supposed to. Notice he did not say that they were in no way in violation of the laws. He just said they were not breaking as many rules as the other guys. And I understand, you want everyone to be created equal and picked on all the same, but that’s not how things work. With this being such a hotly contested subject I feel anyone who wants to open a dispensary should follow every rule and law to a T. With everyone already breathing down the backs of anyone who goes near marijuana, why hand them ammunition? If you are doing nothing wrong and they come after you anyway, then you can get all up in arms about it. But, if you’re breaking the rules, you deserve to get caught. We don’t need anymore people making us marijuana users look bad; “Reefer Madness” did enough of that for us.

  • jsknow

    ‘If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.’ ~Thomas Jefferson

    Medical Marijuana to be Grown in White House Garden this Year:

    In this myth shattering, information packed documentary, learn from physicians and leading researchers about medicinal cannabis and its demonstrated effects on human health. This game-changing movie presents the most comprehensive synopsis to date of the real science surrounding the world’s most controversial plant. http://marijuanamovie.org/

    No matter where you stand on the issue of legalizing marijuana everyone should read:



    and the free online book:

    THE EMPEROR WEARS NO CLOTHES, The Authoritative Historical Record of Cannabis and The Conspiracy Against Marijuana.

    Click the links to those titles on this webpage:
    Internet Explorer web browser: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/home
    All Other Browsers: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/index.html

    If you think marijuana prohibition has anything to do with the imaginary, false, fabricated, alleged harms from using marijuana as a recreational drug, YOU HAVE BEEN DUPED!



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  • Rocketman

    Legalize and tax the plant and leave us alone.
    President ObeyMe has his own stash and every raid increases it.
    What a joke, no, shameful, just shameful.


  • MinusThymus

    I love the way the Conservatives want “personal responsibility”, then want to tell everyone else to do as they say, not as they do. Complete hypocrites.

    • BigRmv

      I think you missed a point or two here. One, state laws can’t override federal law. That’s what the Civil War hashed out. Two, personal responsibility means obeying the laws and facing the consequences of your actions (good or bad). It’s not a free pass to do as you wish. Witness driving a car. You’re expected to obey the traffic laws and operate the vehicle safely. Choosing not to can cause suspension of your license or get you thrown in jail. But you still have the right to drive it wherever you choose, provided you do it legally.

      Whether you’re for or against these medical marijuana or against, there are conflicting laws and they need to be sorted out (and let’s face it, the “medical” part of most of this is a–pun intended–smoke screen).

      Finally, on the “hypocrite” topic–Aren’t the democrats the ones in favor of more government intervention? My name is Kettle and I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Pot.

      • jsknow

        From: http://www.jackherer.com/thebook/chapter-six/
        “Eli Lilly, Pfizer and others stand to lose at least a third of their entire, highly profitable, patent monopoly on such drugs as Darvon, Tuinal, Seconal, and Prozac (as well as other patented medications ranging from muscle ointments to burn ointments, to thousands of other products) because of a plant anyone can grow: cannabis hemp.

        Isn’t it curious that American drug companies and pharmacist groups supply almost half the funding for the 4,000 Families Against Marijuana type organizations in America? The other half is supplied by Action (a federal VISTA agency) and by tobacco companies like Philip Morris, and by liquor and beer makers like Anheuser Busch, Coors, etc., or as a public service by the ad agencies that represent them. End quote.

        Simply stated, the Federal Government is conspiring with pharmaceutical companies, alcohol companies and tobacco companies and is using unconstitutional Federal marijuana prohibition laws to insure that you needlessly buy products that have been proven beyond any shadow of doubt to be harmful and often deadly, instead of allowing you to legally grow and/or buy a nontoxic plant that is safe and effective. Meanwhile uncle SHAM forces unconstitutional healthcare legislation on you and threatens to severely punish you if you don’t buy mandatory health insurance.

        The fact is, Federal marijuana prohibition is ILLEGAL. When alcohol was prohibited at the Federal level, that required an amendment to the Constitution to be legal. There has been NO AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING FEDERAL MARIJUANA PROHIBITION. UNCONSTITUTIONAL IS ILLEGAL! Even though there was an amendment to the Constitution, ten states ended alcohol prohibition before the Federal Government did. The States created the Federal Government and the Constitution ONLY gives the Federal Government a very limited, well defined set of powers. ANY law that the Federal Government puts on the books without Constitutional authority is unconstitutional and ILLEGAL!

        Put Ron Paul in the White House in 2012 or sooner! Search his name on youtube and listen to what he has to say straight from his own mouth! He represents We The people and the Constitution better than ANY Federal representative we have!

        Notice what Judge Andrew Napolitano has to say about abuse of power by the Federal Government here, Natural rights Patriot Act:

  • tinteardrop

    ““Why does it have to be armed agents? Why the need for a show of force like this?”

    Yeah man…what a buzzkill!! LOL!!.

  • GeniousIQ

    Failure of any president to address this obvious disaster is a nonstop source of frustration. When talking about departments to cut, the DEA should be #1 on that list.

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