It’s getting ugly and NORML needs your help now more than ever to stand up for the rights of responsible adults cannabis consumers. The Administration that promised to base drug policy on science and respect state marijuana laws is ignoring medical facts, the needs of patients, and the economic benefits that regulated dispensaries bring to medical cannabis-friendly states.
There is no way to sugar coat the terrible past two weeks we’ve had at the hands of Prohibition-loving federal and state governments.
Yesterday, the four U.S. Attorneys from California–along with their respective counterparts here in Washington D.C. from the DEA and IRS–declared that a statewide crackdown against large-scale medical cannabis cultivators and sellers with national implications is currently underway.
Question: Will U.S. Attorneys in the other fifteen states and D.C. with medical cannabis laws pursue similarly aggressive enforcement?
But wait! There’s more. Much more.
-Earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a long-awaited $2.5 million ruling against a major medical cannabis dispensary in California. Citing an obscure part of the US tax code meant to target drug cartels, the federal agency is barring dispensaries, even those licensed under state law, from taking any business-related tax deductions and is seeking millions in dollars in back taxes.
This adverse ruling has the very real potential to stop the regulated sale of cannabis currently underway in California, Colorado, Maine and New Mexico; and planned in Arizona, Montana, Delaware, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C
-The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) issued a heavy-handed one-page memo to every gun and ammunition dealer nationwide informing them that they must, by law, deny sales to lawful patients who possess a physician’s recommendation to use medical cannabis–many of whom posses state-issues medical cannabis ID cards–effectively denying their Second Amendment rights to have a gun to hunt or for personal safety.
-Federal regulators cracked down on banks in Colorado, California and Michigan that had previously conduct business with medical cannabis dispensaries, forbidding these financial institutions from allowing cash deposits or processing credit/debit cards from state or locally approved canna-businesses.
-U.S. Attorneys in California sent warnings to local dispensaries in San Francisco, San Diego, and elsewhere warning that locally compliant facilities still may be subject to federal prosecution for violating federal ‘drug free school zones’ legislation — leaving these facilities with no choice but to either move or close.
-Also, federal attorneys in California have sent hundreds of legal warnings to the landlords of properties that rent to medical cannabis businesses (retail, delivery, cultivation and testing) warning that their properties and assets are subject to swift civil forfeiture proceedings, and that they themselves may be subject to decades in prison. Is it likely that federal attorneys do the same in Colorado, New Mexico and Maine; and to the numerous gray area dispensaries in Oregon and Washington?
-Rhode Island’s governor Lincoln Chafee pulled the plug on the state’s nascent medical cannabis dispensary program, despite it having been previously approved 102 – 3 by the state legislature. Why? Governor Chafee cites recent memos from the Department of Justice threatening to federally prosecute employees involved in the state-licensed production or distribution of cannabis.
-Michigan courts, the legislature and the state’s Attorney General are steadily dissembling the state’s medical cannabis program, despite the law having passed with 63 percent public approval.
There are only two things to say after reading such an alarming list of recent setbacks to ending Cannabis Prohibition:
1. Rather than pour millions of dollars and human energy into creating a legally and politically contentious policy that allows some cannabis consumers who can obtain a physician’s recommendation to be immune from state (but not federal) prosecution during a time of general Cannabis Prohibition, all cannabis consumers, patients, cultivators and sellers and their families should focus their full attention and resources to once and for all legalizing cannabis for all responsible adult consumers.
Everyone at NORML has known that 2012 was going to be the busiest year in our 40-year civil rights efforts to legalize marijuana.
However, with the Obama Administration’s new and aggressive assertion of federal primacy over states and cities that have crafted superior, public-endorsed, free market-oriented public policies, we’re now assured long and difficult political and legal battles in the coming year with a federal government that still does not ‘get it’ regarding the public’s desire to retire the 74-year-old Cannabis Prohibition right next to the last ‘great social experiment’, Alcohol Prohibition.
Anticipating yesterday’s federal actions in California, members of the NORML Legal Committee (NLC), a nationwide network of over 600 lawyers, is already organizing and poised to challenge federal and state governments who seek to kill patients’ access to medical cannabis and to defend citizens egregiously charged by their own government for law violations.
If you watched the three-part PBS series this week on Alcohol Prohibition, it is impossible not to draw similarities to the absurdity of alcohol’s prohibition to that of the ongoing, heavy-handed criminalization of cannabis, and that ultimately only politically organized citizens came to end the federal government’s folly by putting sufficient legal and political pressure on their elected policymakers.
Our generation must do the same to end our nation’s long-suffering Cannabis Prohibition.