Politics

Obama's DOJ Interferes with California Medical Marijuana

| by Reason Foundation

By Brian Doherty

Pro-Obama administration pro-pot legalization folk, you just make me sad. Here's the latest on how Obama's Department of Justice is respecting local option when it comes to pot, via California Watch:

The Obama administration has warned Oakland over the licensing of four giant pot farms, saying the plan is in violation of state and federal law and could trigger multiple legal actions against the city. 

Officials from the Justice Department’s civil division and the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco delivered the blunt message to Oakland City Attorney John Russo, according to two officials who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to talk about the meetings.

“The warning is clear: These are illegal, large-scale pot growing operations, with Oakland planning to get a cut of the illicit profits,” said one official....

What are these goddamn narcs so upset about?

At issue is a controversial ordinance, approved by the Oakland City Council last July, to license four “industrial” facilities to cultivate and process marijuana and sell the product to medical marijuana dispensaries around the state. If Oakland issues permits and the facilities are built, they could be the largest of their kind in the world.

In November, Oakland voters approved a measure that imposes a 5-percent business tax on all medical marijuana operators, including future pot farms, opening a potentially lucrative revenue stream for the city.

Remember when that awesome Obama was all "hands off, not our priority" about state medical pot? Yet do not forget that "in unambiguous compliance with state law" loophole, large enough to drive any number of federal raids through:

after closely studying the Oakland plan some federal officials have concluded the ordinance violates state law because it treats pot farms as distinct business entities for tax purposes, thus severing the direct connection between cultivator and patient that underpins the legal standing of a medical marijuana collective or cooperative.

“Oakland would be on the hook for violating state and federal law,” said one official who foresees possible civil and criminal litigation if the pot farms go into operation early next year as planned.

And that ain't all for this pot-friendly groovy administration with other priorities:

The Obama administration’s challenge to Oakland over large-scale marijuana cultivation appears to be part of a broader federal effort to bring order to California’s booming medical marijuana industry following last month’s defeat of Proposition 19, the initiative to legalize recreational pot.

Eight days after the vote California’s four U.S. attorneys met with DEA and Justice Department officials to develop a plan to deal with some of the loopholes and gray areas in the state’s medical marijuana program, according to two officials briefed on the discussions.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said the Nov. 10 meeting focused on a "state-wide federal enforcement strategy" for marijuana but declined to provide details.

And in conclusion: sigh.