Medical marijuana advocates: Obama’s Colorado crackdown could ‘swing entire election’

Jennifer White Contributor
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Colorado Dispensary Services employee Jen Reynolds will be out of a job this week due to the Obama administration’s crackdown on state law-compliant medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington and other states.

Reynold’s story is reflective of many medical marijuana businesses in Colorado, as the U.S. Attorney’s office in Colorado has forced over 50 dispensaries to close their doors, according to a report released by the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).

“This is about medical cannabis patients having a safe and regulated environment in which to purchase their medicine… My center should have been a model for others to follow, not a target for federal action,” Reynolds said at an NCIA press conference Thursday.

The organization is calling on the Obama administration to freeze its enforcement activity on medical marijuana businesses in Colorado that comply with state — but not federal — law.

“Marijuana is much more popular in Colorado than [President] Obama is,” warned NCIA Executive Director F. Aaron Smith. “His actions could swing the entire election.”

In February 2009, the Department of Justice announced that it would no longer threaten and close state law-compliant medical marijuana dispensaries, although the NCIA claims this is not the case. In a June 2011 policy reversal, the DOJ emphasized tolerance of medical marijuana patients and caregivers, but not those who cultivate or distribute the drug.

“The Department of Justice is undermining state law by threatening to shut down legal business,” Smith told TheDC. “It’s absurd that we have someone in office who brags about medical marijuana use in college and now oversees a DOJ that is hurting people who rely on medical marijuana as medicine.”

Voters in Colorado, Washington state and Oregon will decide in November whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and how to regulate and tax its distribution.

Last week GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, told KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs that states should have the authority to choose whether to legalize medical marijuana.

“Governor Romney has a long record of opposing the use of marijuana for any reason. Paul Ryan joined the Romney ticket and supports the Governor’s position,” Ryan press secretary Brendan Buck said in an email to TheDC when asked about Ryan’s position.

The NCIA does not endorse candidates, and is noncommittal about which presidential candidate would be better for the medical marijuana industry.”It’s hard to imagine [the Romney campaign] being better” than Obama, said spokesman Steve Fox. “Romney has promised to fight medical marijuana tooth-and-nail.”

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