States, feds spar over medical marijuana

The clash between states and the federal government over medical marijuana may be intensifying.

U.S. Department of Justice memo appears to target commercial medical marijuana growers

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Congressman Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, is sparring with the U.S. Department of Justice over the language of a June 29 memo from the federal agency that seems to target large-scale medical marijuana growers and dispensaries.

The memo is intended to clarify the federal government’s role in enforcing the prohibition on illegal drug use. The widespread legalization of medical cannabis has resulted in some confusion in a classic case of states’ rights versus federal law. Federal  officials are obligated to enforce the controlled substances act, even as more and more states legalize medical use of marijuana.

In a related story, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports that drug-related school expulsions have soared in the Poudre School District as medical marijuana use becomes more widespread.

In a previous memo, the Justice Department said it would continue to prioritize prosecution “of significant traffickers in illegal drugs,’ while indicating that “it is likely not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or their caregivers.”

In the June 29 follow-up memo, the DOJ adds this:

“The term “caregiver” as used in the memorandum meant just that: individuals providing care to individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses, not commercial operations cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana.

“The Department’s view of the efficient use of limited federal resources as articulated in the Ogden Memorandum has not changed. There has, however, 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 the millions of dollars based on the plant cultivation of tens of thousands of cannabis plants.”

Polis responded:

“The Justice Department’s announcement is insufficient because it fails to lift the threat of arrests and prosecutions from legal, state regulated, voter-endorsed medical marijuana businesses. Colorado has proven that medical marijuana can be successfully regulated and taxed, which helps patients suffering debilitating diseases and pain, while also increasing state revenues.

“While I am disappointed with the June 29 memo, it again makes clear that U.S. attorneys are afforded discretion when prioritizing their limited enforcement resources. It’s obvious to all that the Department’s limited tax dollars are better spent going after real criminals, such as Mexican drug lords, rather than well-regulated, state-legal business.

“The Department’s stance again makes the case for the passage of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which was authored by Congressman Barney Frank, and which I proudly cosponsor, but in the mean time they can do better than this memo and I encourage them to do so.”

A June 20 letter from Polis and Frank requesting that the Department clarify its enforcement approach to legal, state regulated medical marijuana businesses. The June 29 memo comes in response to requests from several states for additional direction on federal medical marijuana enforcement.

Polis is the author of the Small Business Banking Improvement Act, a bill that would ensure that legal, state-regulated medical marijuana businesses receive fair access to financial services.

Full text of DOJ memo:

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2 Responses

  1. The patients will lose SAFE access to medicine and be forced into the underground market if the MMCs get shut down. The State will lose money without the tax revenue, and people will start getting arrested for this bs.

    Email your representatives and let them know you want safe access to medicine.

    • Absolutelylisten to Mile High as the statements are correct, it’s already happened and is continuing to happent as we speak!

      The sky isn’t falling, it already fell. Now, it’s hunting season for the over zealous commando units at the Criminal Enforcement Division aka MMED. They got their hunting tags and know where to hunt. They are coming for you! They will arrest you and make you prove that you are innoncent!

      My advice, secure your MMD applicant. Don’t let them go into the MMD or the grow op or break any laws ever! IF at any time the cops are to come in and make arrests, the applicant, just being in his/her business, can be charged with running a criminal enterprise and have no Constitutional defense. Once the captain of the ship goes down everyone else does as well! The business will be deemed an illegal, criminal enterprise and all employees will be arrested! Hide your mmd applicant! Send them on vacation, have them stay at home and out of any trouble. If any problems arise, will result in the application to be cancelled!
      Write your representative, they do listen, we have to hold them accountable for these ridiculous un Constitutional regulations!

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