Federal Government Preparing a Crackdown on State Medical Marijuana


Since Prop. 19 failed to fully legalize adult possession, use, and small growth, Obama's Department of Justice is showing an increased desire to interfere with the state medical system.

Story continues below

You might remember Obama vowing that he's pretty much let states do what they wanted with medical pot without federal law enforcement stepping in

However, federal DEA raids in the state and other medical-legal states have continued, and now they appear to be planning to step up legal pressure on California over pot. The huge loophole is that DOJ claims federal law enforcement won't step in as long as state law isn't being violated either--and the ambiguities of state law leave them lots of room. (Why it shouldn't be up to the state to deal with violations of state law is still a mystery, but the federal government loves its drug laws.)

Details of federal leaning on officials in the Bay Area reported at 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 feds don't care that it's what Oakland's citizens want:

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....

However, 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....

It's not just Oakland at risk:

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 our county D.A. Steve Cooley continues to believe that any exchange of cash for weed, even under the medical system, is prima facie illegal. After Prop 19's failure, even our medical system looks like it's in for a rough ride.

Image taken by Flickr user Troy Holden. Used under user Creative Commons license.

We are dedicated to providing you with articles like this one. Show your support with a tax-deductible contribution to KCET. After all, public media is meant for the public. It belongs to all of us.

Keep Reading