Who’s To Blame For The California Marijuana Crackdown?


The Weed Blog

By Jack Rikess
Northern California Correspondent
To the readers of Toke of the Town:
I had my last article, ‘Disorganized Government Crime: AG Hits Bay Area MMJ Scene,’ removed from the Toke banner after a couple of comments were made disputing the facts of my report. 
As a writer, I’m always striving to be a better journalist. While I depend on the facts for a story, I do sometimes in the same motion; offer my opinions on the situations I see evolving surrounding cannabis issues in the Bay Area and beyond.
I’ve realized I need to learn to be clearer on my execution or delivery as to what the facts are and what isn’t fact but commentary. To remain objective and honest with the details and differentiate distinctly when I’m stating opinions or my “take” on how the shit is going down.  

California Attorney General Kamala Harris  

In the pulled article, I held California Attorney General, Kamala Harris responsible the travesty that is befalling California’s medical marijuana program. Just in the last 10 days, the nation’s largest cannabis dispensary, Harborside Health Center, has been threatened by the Feds with seizure of their goods. Banking institutions have also been intimidated federally and have ceased doing business with medical marijuana businesses. A local favorite dispensary, The Vapor Room got “The Letter,” and is closing by the end of the month.
As I read and reread a few of the astute comments that were made, I realize I wasn’t being coherent as a writer should be. Imagine a pot writer not coherent. (Submit your own punchline.) 
The chief reason that everything federally is happening now could be easily directed at Melinda Haag, United States Attorney for the Northern California District of California. It is her name at the bottom of the letters that are shutting down the medical marijuana movement in the Bay Area. I wouldn’t argue with anyone that she is major player in the blame game for what is happening in the Golden State since the Feds cracked down for good in 2011. 
The point I want to make is, I blame Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California, and a close second to her, Governor Jerry Brown. These two Democrats — who have enjoyed the support of the pro-cannabis community when it comes election time — have remained motionless as the Feds have had their way destroying legitimate medical marijuana businesses. 
The voters have spoken. The idea that Harborside is being closed because they’re too big, so there must be some backroom shenanigans taking place, is ludicrous. What other industry is scrutinized like this? “You’re too successful so you must be doing something wrong?” 

United States Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s name is at the bottom of the letters that are shutting down the medical marijuana movement in the Bay Area

It is my opinion that to blame Melinda Haag is like blaming John Yoo or Scooter Libby for the sins of Dick Cheney. The Feds are like the military; the blame never reaches the top. The people at Abu Ghraib prison received the punishment, not the system. 
Good luck with going after the Feds. Until marijuana is rescheduled down to a Class All of its Own where everyone’s in agreement with its ideal classification, I believe that all politics will remain local.
Kamala Harris, who was put into office with the medical marijuana coalition support behind her, not only hasn’t done anything, but refuses to question the legality of the Feds’ actions from Oaksterdam to everything else that’s happening day to day.
Who should be protecting the rights of Californians? Why are otherwise law-abiding citizens being remade into criminals? Don’t blame the prisons. Since they’ve privatized, they’re able to shuffle convicts from state to state to meet the state’s contractual 90 percent occupancies as promised.
I blame Kamala Harris and Jerry Brown for sitting behind the closed doors of their fortresses, as innocent people are being harassed.

California Governor Jerry Brown

It is too easy to point out the economic advantages of what the Medical Marijuana industry has brought to California in the last few years. I could also cite the resources that now go again back to prosecuting citizens that could have been used to go after the murderers and rapists that haunt our cities.
I’ve pointed out that with the removal of banking choices for the MM businesses, there’s a potential for crime to enter. We now know from the Rand Corporation study that when a dispensary moved into a neighborhood, crime decreased.
In my head, it seems so clear. You’ve got high-price flunkies coming to town on the orders of the bosses Back East. Then you have your elected officials who are supposed to do a job for YOU. I’m talking to the people who I voted for and had made certain promises earlier. 
Besides for our steadfast liberal congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi, who just recently questioned the Feds’ motives, who has spoken up for the medical marijuana movement in California? I can only think of Tom Ammiano and Mark Leno, when it comes to our state leaders. 
I hold Kamala Harris responsible for not only what has happen but what may happen with the disorganization being implemented by the Federal Government on California’s complicated and burgeoning medical marijuana industry. 
I love to write. It satisfies a natural curiosity I have about the life that surrounds me. And yes, I am always learning. It’s a simple statement but true. I thank the people who took the time to question what I really meant. Beyond the snarkiness and trolls, there are people who really care about medical marijuana and in doing so, broaden the discussion in an intelligent manner. 
As always, I appreciate Toke of the Town and the readers who support it. 

Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town correspondent Jack Rikess blogs from the Haight in San Francisco

Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comic, writes a regular column most directly found at jackrikess.com.

Jack delivers real-time coverage following the cannabis community, focusing on politics and culture.

His beat includes San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mendocino-Humboldt counties.

He has been quoted by the national media and is known for his unique view with thoughtful, insightful perspective.