By Paul Armentano
“This is not an idle threat. … What we’re trying to do is send a message as broadly as possible. … We are serious about enforcing federal law. …We are not just talking about it, but we are doing something about it. … Prosecuting marijuana cases is a higher priority now.”
–statements of the US Attorneys for the four federal districts in California
We’ve seen this coming for some time, but today the gloves officially came off. No more memos filled with false promises; no more phony pledges to respect states rights, no more giggles. Like a caged animal backed into a corner, the federal government is snarling and spitting back. It has no other way to defend its morally bankrupt policy except through a show of strength and intimidation.
via the US Department of Justice, Eastern District of California
SACRAMENTO, Calif.: October 7, 2011 – The four California-based United States Attorneys today announced coordinated enforcement actions targeting the illegal operations of the commercial marijuana industry in California.
The statewide enforcement effort is aimed at curtailing the large, for-profit marijuana industry that has developed since the passage of California’s Proposition 215 in 1996.
… While the four United States Attorneys have tailored enforcement actions to the specific problems in their own districts, the statewide enforcement efforts fall into three main categories:
· Civil forfeiture lawsuits against properties involved in drug trafficking activity, which includes, in some cases, marijuana sales in violation of local ordinances;
· Letters of warning to the owners and lienholders of properties where illegal marijuana sales are taking place; and
· Criminal cases targeting commercial marijuana activities, including arrests over the past two weeks in cases filed in federal courts in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno.
The enforcement actions being announced today are the result of the four United States Attorneys working with federal law enforcement partners and local officials across California to combat commercial marijuana activities that are having the most significant impacts in communities.
“The actions taken today in California by our U.S. Attorneys and their law enforcement partners are consistent with the Department’s commitment to enforcing existing federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), in all states,” said Deputy Attorney General James Cole.
… Laura E. Duffy, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California, commented: “The California marijuana industry is not about providing medicine to the sick. It’s a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law. In addition to damaging our environment, this industry is creating significant negative consequences, in California and throughout the nation. As the number one marijuana producing state in the country, California is exporting not just marijuana but all the serious repercussions that come with it, including significant public safety issues and perhaps irreparable harm to our youth.”
Melinda Haag, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, said: “Marijuana stores operating in proximity to schools, parks, and other areas where children are present send the wrong message to those in our society who are the most impressionable. In addition, the huge profits generated by these stores, and the value of their inventory, present a danger that the stores will become a magnet for crime, which jeopardizes the safety of nearby children. Although our initial efforts in the Northern District focus on only certain marijuana stores, we will almost certainly be taking action against others. None are immune from action by the federal government.”
Dozens of letters have been sent over the past few days to the owners and lienholders of properties where commercial marijuana stores and grows are located. In the Southern and Eastern Districts, the owners of buildings where marijuana stores operate have received letters warning that they risk losing their property and money derived from renting the space used for marijuana sales. In the Central District, … prosecutors have sent letters to property owners in selected cities where officials have requested federal assistance, and they plan to continue their enforcement actions in other cities as well. In the Northern District, owners and lienholders of marijuana stores operating near schools and other locations where children congregate have been warned that their operations are subject to enhanced penalties and that real property involved in the operations is subject to seizure and forfeiture to the United States.
… The statewide coordinated enforcement actions were announced this morning at a press conference in Sacramento.
It has been apparent for some time now that the Obama Administration is escalating its efforts to both crack down on existing above ground, medical cannabis operations in states like California, as well as to thwart the establishments of similar operations in additional states.
So why these stepped up efforts now? The answer ought to be self-evident.The intention of these and other recent, well-publicized threats by the Obama administration is to stifle the development of a viable legal cannabis distribution industry, even in states that have enacted legislation to allow for such an industry.
During today’s conference, all four US Attorneys affirmed that their intent is not to target individual, state-compliant medical cannabis consumers per se, but to emphasize that the Department of Justice is opposed to the regulated commerce of medical cannabis. That’s because once this industry has legitimized itself to the public and local lawmakers in California, Colorado, and elsewhere, then voters will become accustomed to safe, secure, well-run businesses that deliver consistent, reliable, tested cannabis products. They’ll appreciate the way well-regulated medical dispensaries revitalize sagging economies, provide jobs, and contribute taxes to budget-starved localities. They’ll realize all the years of scaremongering by the government about what would happen if marijuana were legal, even for sick people, was nothing but hysterical propaganda. And the voting public will eventually ask: ‘Why we don’t just legalize cannabis for everyone in a similarly responsible manner?’