|Photo: NBC 10 News|
|Governor Lincoln Chafee received a threatening letter today from Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha.|
Add Rhode Island to the list of states that have received threatening letters from the federal government on the issue of medical marijuana in recent weeks.
Significantly, the Rhode Island letter — delivered to Governor Lincoln Chafee’s office on Friday — unlike all of the other recent U.S. Attorney letters to medical marijuana states, does NOT begin with a line like “In response to your inquiry…”
“That likely means that this legal advice was not solicited by the Rhode Island government, marking an escalation in the feds’ aggressiveness on this issue,” media relations director Tom Angell at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) told Toke of the Town Friday evening.
To date, U.S. Attorneys have only weighed in with threat letters after being contacted by state and local officials.
U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha delivered a letter to Gov. Chafee, reiterting the DOJ’s policy on medical marijuana, reports Megan Hall at WRNI. Although the feds have a state policy of not focusing their priorities on prosecuting patients in medical marijuana states, it will go after what it claims are “large scale drug traffickers.”
Unfortunately, it seems the Obama DOJ now puts dispensaries — or, as they’re known in Rhode Island, compassion centers — in that category.
Jim Martin with the U.S. Attorney’s Office wouldn’t answer most of WRNI’s questions, saying “the letter speaks for itself” — but he wouldn’t give reporter Hall a copy of the letter.
He assured Hall that the text is “very similar” to this one [PDF] sent to Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington state.
Gov. Chafee’s office was finally able to give Hall a copy of the letter [PDF], “but not much of a response,” she reports: “The letter in question from the U.S. Attorney’s Office was received today, and is under review.”
One of the key paragraphs from the U.S. Attorney’s letter calls the establishment of Rhode Island’s three compassion centers “contrary to federal law, and thus undermines the federal government’s efforts to regulate the possession, manufacturing and trafficking of controlled substance. Accordingly, the Department of Justice could consider civil and criminal legal remedies against those individuals and entities who set up marijuana dispensaries as such actions are in violation of federal law.”