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In an unprecedented move that began late last week, and continued over the holiday Labor Day weekend, the Obama Administration, and more specifically, the U.S. Department of Justice ended their silence on the issue of medical marijuana on the state level, announcing that they would not use the courts to challenge state laws recently passed in Colorado and Washington, as long as those states continue to adhere to a strict set of guidelines.
Though many critics, professional or genuine, are carelessly comparing this latest announcement to the 2009 Ogden Memo, those on the front lines of the effort to legalize cannabis know that last Thursday’s announcement, and some follow-up and clarifying releases over the weekend, mark a positive and necessary step towards that goal.

Opposing Views
Did the Feds think of the impact that their letters and raids have had on the patients who depend on places like the Berkeley Patients Group?

By Bob Starrett
He looked a bit suspicious, standing in front of the Blockbuster kiosk at the 7-11 talking on his cell phone. He wasn’t renting a movie so I asked him to move to the side. As I was perusing the latest releases, he walked into the store.
Just seconds later he was out and gone. As he streaked past me, I could hear the jingling of coins in a jar but by the time I realized what was happening he was too far gone for me to do anything about it.
An approaching woman told me that there was a car idling in the alley, apparently the getaway car. It was over so quickly. It was only then that I realized that all I would have had to do was lift up my right leg as he was accelerating by me and he would have done a faceplant onto the concrete.
A common thief. A street thief. Steal anything from anyone, without regret, without thought of consequence. He probably did not pick a particular charity jar to take. He likely took whatever was closest to the door. And then he was gone, just like that. No thought to the charity, no thought at all.

I And I Rootz

​Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and a coalition of advocacy and labor groups are staging a demonstration at noon in Sacramento on Wednesday, November 9 to protest the federal government’s escalated attack on California’s medical marijuana laws.

A lively rally of medical marijuana patients and supporters is set to occur in front of the Sacramento federal building and will feature state legislators, advocates, labor and dispensary operators impacted by the recent Department of Justice (DOJ) crackdown in California.

Marylanders 4 Safe Access

​Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a medical marijuana advocacy organization, filed suit in federal court on Thursday challenging the Obama Administration’s attempt to undercut local and state medical marijuana laws in California.

ASA argues in its lawsuit that Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has “instituted a policy to dismantle the medical marijuana laws of the State of California and to coerce its municipalities to pass bans on medical marijuana dispensaries.”
The DOJ policy has involved aggressive SWAT-style raids, criminal prosecutions of medical marijuana patients and providers and threats to local officials for merely implementing state law.
“Although the Obama Administration is entitled to enforce federal marijuana laws, the 10th Amendment forbids it from using coercive tactics to commandeer the lawmaking functions of the state,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the lawsuit Thursday in San Francisco’s federal District Court.

Prison Inmate Penpal
They’re probably celebrating the new Obama Administration policy toward medical marijuana dispensaries.

​U.S. Attorneys Announce That Dispensaries In California Must Close
In a press conference Friday, all four U.S. Attorneys in California announced that the Obama Administration will no longer ignore dispensaries and will actively prosecute many commercial operations.
The attorneys said they will concentrate on criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture against the landlords of medical marijuana dispensaries or cultivation centers, and threaten action against certain commercial organizations.
Multiple businesses throughout the state have been given 45 days to close down.

Graphic: CDS
Hey, eagle dude, is that a bud you’re holding?

​The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday filed a legal brief indicating the federal government would not prosecute state employees for implementing state medical marijuana programs, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

The DOJ brief asks that a lawsuit filed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, be thrown out, reports Eric W. Dolan at The Raw Story.

Brewer’s claims had no merit, according to the Department of Justice, which noted that her lawsuit failed to provide credible evidence that state employees were under threat of imminent federal prosecution.

The governors of Arizona, Rhode Island and Washington have all refused to implement medical marijuana laws because they said they feared criminal prosecution of state employees by federal U.S. attorneys.
The DOJ announcement is particularly ironic and poignant, since it completely removes the one objection Washington Governor Christine Gregoire cited when she vetoed almost all of SB 5073, which would have explicitly legalized medical marijuana dispensaries in that state.

Graphic: RIPAC

​The head of Rhode Island’s largest medical marijuana advocacy group said she is still optimistic that cannabis dispensaries will be open in the state in the not-too-distant future.

JoAnne Lepannen, executive director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC), said on Tuesday that she has carefully reviewed “Seeking to Authorize Marijuana for Medical Use,” the two-page memo issued last week by the Justice Department, reports W. Zachary Malinowski at The Providence Journal.
Lepannen said she sees a silver lining in the document because there is no specific threat by federal authorities to prosecute state employees who are associated with the licensing or oversight of marijuana dispensaries.
“I think there is a ray of hope here,” Lepannen said. “We have to read into this letter what [the federal government]didn’t say. That speaks volumes.”
The memo does warn that those who “facilitate” large-scale medical marijuana production (presumably, that wording was used to intimidate landlords, as well as actual cultivators) are violating the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Photo: Just Out
According to Reps. Jared Polis (left) and Barney Frank, the Obama Administration should lay off medical marijuana patients and providers in states where medicinal cannabis is legal.

​Two Democratic Congressmen want to know exactly where the federal government stands on medical cannabis. Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) are urging the Obama Administration this week to repeat earlier vows to leave the enforcement of medical marijuana laws up to the states.

The Congressmen want Attorney General Eric Holder to renew his commitment to a 2009 Department of Justice (DOJ) memorandum — known as the Ogden Memo — which said the agency wouldn’t target medical marijuana patients and providers who are in compliance with their state laws, reports Mike Lillis at The Hill.
“Recent actions by United States Attorneys across the country have prompted states to deny patients safe and reliable access to their medicine,” Frank and Polis wrote in a June 20 letter to Holder.
The letter was a result of the lawmakers’ concerns that recent communications from the DOJ and from state and local attorneys indicate the agency is backtracking on the Ogden Memo in the face of conservative criticism that the Obama Administration has somehow been “too lenient” in the “War On Drugs” by allowing sick people to use the medicine recommended by their doctors.

Photo: Disinformation

​Despite campaign promises to the contrary, the Department of Justice under President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder has continued raiding marijuana dispensaries in states where cannabis is legal for medical purposes. But the DOJ has changed one policy now that it’s under Democratic control: It has stopped publicizing medical marijuana raids, refusing to distribute press releases and requesting that more cases be sealed under court order.

After recent Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI raids of medical marijuana dispensaries in Las Vegas, Nevada (last week), Mendocino County and San Diego, California, and in Michigan (all in July), the DEA and U.S. Attorney’s offices issued no press releases and held no press conferences, reports Mike Riggs at The Daily Caller.

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