Pubdate: Wed, 20 Jul 2011
Source: Detroit Metro News (MI)
Pubdate: 20 Jul 11
Author: John Sinclair


Obama Administration Heightens Tensions Over Medical Marijuana

It was great to see my dear comrade Ed Rosenthal with Larry Gabriel 
in last week's Higher Ground. One of the greatest developments in 
American jurisprudence, in my experience, was when the San Francisco 
jury that was instructed to convict Ed for growing marijuana found 
out after the trial had ended that he had been cultivating the weed 
under contract to the city of Oakland.

I happened to be in San Francisco for the Rosenthal verdict, and was 
truly amazed the next day when the jury held a press conference to 
denounce the judge and prosecutor. Had they known the facts, seven 
members of the jury told the media, they would never have convicted 
the defendant. We need to hear this more often!

This week's column examines some other bizarre twists and turns in 
the battle against the War on Drugs. First, my readers will be happy 
to hear that opposition to the Dutch government's plans to bar "drug 
tourists" from the nation's 750 coffeeshops is starting to grow. reports that the city council of Tilberg has instructed 
the mayor "not to accept the system unless the government makes it compulsory."

This pleasant little university town, best known for its imaginative 
music festivals, has now joined Breda, Den Bosch and Eindhoven in 
opposing the legislation, along with the city councils of the Hague, 
Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Maastrich - a good sign that the 
present system will prevail.

The report concludes that "Tilburg, like the other cities, is worried 
that turning coffeeshops into closed clubs will lead to an increase 
in street dealing." Duh!

Closer to home, the rabid new "tough nerd" government of Michigan and 
its crusading General of Attorneys William Schuette - leader of the 
unsuccessful opposition to the medical marijuana law - is using his 
post to undermine the law any way he can and is currently attempting 
to get it overturned in court, claiming the state law is pre-empted 
by federal law.

Rather than simply accepting the will of 63 percent of the voting 
public, Schuette keeps picking away at what he sees as weaknesses in 
the statute and is now teamed up with equally hostile legislators to 
force through measures to compromise patients' privacy, severely 
restrict when and where patients may cultivate, and take away the 
legal rights of patients to challenge overly restrictive ordinances.

The Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee has already approved Senate 
Bill 377, which would require medical marijuana patients' names and 
addresses to be sent to a database accessible by the Department of 
State Police with or without a warrant. This bill treats patients 
like criminal suspects and allows police agencies to go fishing for 
suspects without probable cause.

A second measure, SB418, is designed to prevent individuals from 
suing to overturn municipal ordinances that violate state law, like 
the local ordinances passed by several Michigan cities that prohibit 
"any activity that violates federal law."

Menwhile, Eartha Jane Melzer reports in The Michigan Messenger that 
the Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases in which 
people have been charged with crimes for their medicinal use of marijuana.

In the first case, from Shiawassee County, a registered medical 
marijuana patient was charged with drug crimes when police found pot 
growing outside his home in a dog kennel.

The second, from Oakland County, centers on the question of whether 
someone registered as a marijuana patient must have consulted a 
doctor after the law was passed and not before. In both cases, drug 
charges were dismissed by trial judges but restored by the Michigan 
Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, several municipalities have passed ordinances to regulate 
medical marijuana dispensaries and conditions of personal use. Some 
maintain that the state law should address the means by which 
marijuana may be made available to patients, while members of the 
criminal law section of the State Bar of Michigan have gone an extra 
step forward in recommending that Michigan allow commercial grow 
operations and regulate the industry.

Now, back to General Schuette and his contention that Michigan's 
state marijuana law is pre-empted by the federal narcotics laws. In 
the latest ugly twist from our nation's capital, and in a political 
environment where Democrats and Republicans have found little common 
ground, Attorney General Eric Holder has abruptly reversed the Obama 
administration's hands-off stance toward states with medical marijuana laws.

"The medical marijuana movement is reeling," Phillip Smith reports in 
the Drug War Chronicle, "after the Obama Justice Department released 
a memo declaring that it might prosecute large-scale medical 
marijuana cultivation operations and dispensaries even in states 
where they are operating in compliance with state laws."

The memo, written by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, is a 
masterpiece of sophistry worthy of Harry Anslinger, the godfather of 
the War on Drugs, noting that "Congress has determined that marijuana 
is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of 
marijuana is a serious crime that provides a significant source of 
revenue to large scale criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels."

The Justice Department's commitment to this twisted concept has been 
evident in the increased federal marijuana raids - purported to be at 
twice the rate of the Bush administration - and a recent round of 
what Smith calls "threatening letters from local U.S. Attorneys to 
governors and legislators in states considering or implementing 
medical marijuana distribution programs."

Cole's memo takes pains to point out that there has "been an increase 
in the scope of commercial cultivation, sale, distribution and use of 
marijuana for purported medical purposes. For example, within the 
past 12 months, several jurisdictions have considered or enacted 
legislation to authorize multiple large-scale, privately operated 
industrial marijuana cultivation centers. Some of these planned 
facilities have revenue projections of millions of dollars based on 
the planned cultivation of tens of thousands of cannabis plants."

Cole's memo stresses that the Justice Department "never intended to 
shield such activities from federal enforcement and prosecution, even 
where those activities purport to comply with state law. Persons who 
are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing 
marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, are in 
violation of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law."

"Relations between the medical marijuana movement and the Obama 
administration are starting to feel like the Cold War," Smith writes, 
going on to quote Dale Gieringer of California NORML on the current 
state of the conflict:

"They want to put a stop to any large-scale distribution of medical 
marijuana, but all they're doing is prolonging the conflict between 
federal law and reality. We have to put pressure on Obama," Gieringer 
insists. "He owes us an explanation of his waffling on this issue, 
and certainly his failure to address rescheduling.

Why indeed? Legalize marijuana and all this horseshit goes away and 
our pitiful economy gets a huge boost from a thriving cannabis industry.

- -Amsterdam
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart