October 19 – While it is certainly encouraging that the Obama administration has committed to writing the AG’s declared policy of respecting state medical marijuana laws, the proof will be in the pudding.
Just a week ago, federal prosecutors in San Diego appeared to violate the policy by filing charges against a pair of San Diego dispensary operators, James Dean Stacy of Movement in Action in Vista and Joesph Nunes of Green Kross. In both cases, DEA agents with doctor’s recommendations made small controlled buys of a few grams of medical marijuana. Neither case would normally have merited federal attention, were it not for San Diego’s efforts to pursue medical marijuana providers. Whether their actions were actually illegal under state law was a matter that should properly have been decided in state, not federal, court.
Last August, two Lake County defendants, Scott Feil and Tom Carter, were likewise indicted on federal charges for medical marijuana offenses in apparent disregard of the AG’s earlier statements.
Note that the new Obama policy has a glaring loophole, emphasizing that “prosecutors have wide discretion in choosing which cases to pursue, and … it is not a good use of federal manpower to prosecute those who are without a doubt in compliance with state law. ” The salient question is, who decides what is ‘without a doubt’ in compliance with state law? As shown by the recent statements of LA’s DA and City Attorney, there exist significant doubts about the legality of most dispensaries in California.
It remains to be seen how far the administration’s new policy guidelines will go to prevent further abuses, when what is really needed is fundamental reform of federal laws and regulations.
– D. Gieringer, Cal NORML
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San Diego: DOJ Memo changes nothing
San Diego’s U.S. attorney, Karen Hewitt, said the memo provides
important guidance. But it does not mean she has to prove a violation
of state law before she can prosecute someone for illegal sale of
U.S. eases stance on medical marijuana