An Open Letter to Mendocino County’s Board of Supervisors: Please Stand Up to the Federal Subpoena and Protect Medical Marijuana

December 3, 2012

To: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors

I implore you to instruct your county counsel to challenge the subpoena from the federal government regarding the 9.3.1. program, or at least ask for more time to fully vet and consider the matter.

Our lawyers inform me that you are on good legal ground for a challenge: the state of Oregon won the right in court to protect the privacy of patients enrolled in their medical marijuana program, and other larger issues apply, such as the 5th amendment and medical privacy rights.

The 9.3.1 program was a model for the state in bringing medical marijuana cultivation into the light of regulation and taxation, with good environmental practices and public safety protections. Those who signed up for the program did so in good faith, and coming above board should not lead to a federal trial. This further action by the federal government against California’s best-regulated medical marijuana programs must be challenged.

In federal court, no medical defense is permitted, and sentences are long. Furthermore, the feds like to invoke the ancient maritime laws they sold us on in the 1980s to forfeit property without due process of law. So those in the program will not only risk losing their freedom should you turn over their information, they will also risk losing their homes. It seems rather than allowing medical marijuana farmers to freely pay their taxes, our federal government would rather use backhanded means to shake down the hard-working farmer and fill their coffers.

Now that Colorado and Washington have voted to fully legalize marijuana for personal use, we should be talking about ways to legitimize marijuana cultivation in this country, rather than leaving it to an underground market and cartels. Washington is moving to quickly implement a state-store system, knowing if they don’t it will invite violent gangs to move in.

The only long-term solution is to legitimize the supply, and the only program that was doing that was Mendo’s 9.3.1. The program also answered the concerns of environmentalists, who are rightly looking for solutions to the serious damage caused by large illicit grows on public lands. Local control of medical marijuana gardens is what we need, not more federal invasion.

I especially urge the women on the board not to let the men stand alone for Mendocino’s program. A unanimous vote would send the proper message that Mendocino’s local government stands behind its policies. Please stand firm.

Ellen Komp
Deputy Director
California NORML
San Francisco, CA

P.S. Last week, two teenage girls were killed in Oakland, where calls for federal help with their gun violence has fallen on deaf ears. I read this morning that a 34-year-old Coast Guard officer was killed after a boat allegedly smuggling marijuana from Mexico rammed the inflatable boat our federal government sent him out in. This is how dangerous and misguided our federal policies are.

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