States across the country are legalizing the sale of medical marijuana, and the federal government isn’t happy about it. U.S. attorneys recently voiced their warnings, urging local governments to rethink their plans of opening medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles and elsewhere throughout the country.
Rhode Island recently attempted to open one of its first medical marijuana stores, but that didn’t go as planned, according to NPR.
We’d like to recognize that President Obama’s administration has yet to push federal laws in states where medical marijuana is legal, but our Los Angeles medical marijuana attorneys understand that could be a thing of the past. Feds have begun focusing their attention back to these dispensaries.
“The U.S. attorney was very direct,” Rhode Island’s governor spokesman Michael Trainor says. “The governor believes that if we proceed on the present course, he’d be putting the compassion centers and people associated with compassion centers at great risk.”
Rhode Island isn’t the only state receiving these letters. Eight other states with medical marijuana programs received the threats. Advocates believe that these threats are a complete opposition from the Obama administration’s original stance on the medical marijuana industry. The Justice Department refuses to clarify the decision, saying only that its policy remains the same. The warning states that the U.S. attorneys that are assigned to each state can use their own discretion about how to enforce the policy.
What’s the policy, you ask? Well, it depends on how you interpret the “the Ogden memo.”
“In 2009, the Department of Justice indicated that it would be a low priority to prosecute anyone who was complying with state medical marijuana laws,” explains Jay Rorty of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Rorty says that the 2009 memo from the former Deputy Attorney General David Ogden led advocates to believe that the federal government wouldn’t interfere with state medical marijuana stores.
“I think the ACLU takes that statement out of context,” says U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby from Washington state. He believes that the memo simply means that the federal government won’t go after the patients who choose to grow their own marijuana, but retail stores were never part of that exception.
Each area interprets these vague letters differently, and despite the risk, many are pressing forward with with their programs. Others are in the same limbo as Rhode Island, where patients are getting frustrated and these companies are at a standstill.
The federal government continues to push these anti-pot laws and regulations because of how marijuana is currently rated and categorized with other drugs. Currently, marijuana is a considered a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). In a Schedule I drug classification, the drug is determined to have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.
States continue to face new risks as more and more of them legalize and open dispensaries. Local governments focus on a lawsuit filed by the governor of Arizona to determine the federal government’s official stance on state medical marijuana programs.
“Unfortunately, with this piece of legislation, there are some pretty serious consequences if we don’t get them resolved. And I, as governor, am not willing to put those people at risk,” said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
The CANNABIS LAW GROUP offers experienced and aggressive representation to the medical marijuana industry in Southern California, including growers, dispensaries and collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
More Blog Entries:
Government Fails to Reclassify Medical Marijuana in Los Angeles as it Remains in Heroin Category, Marijuana Lawyer Blog, May 20, 2011
Yet Another Bill Aimed at Regulating Dispensary Operations in Los Angeles, Marijuana Lawyer Blog, May 16, 2011
Charges Dropped Against Doctor Accused of Writing Shoddy Medical Marijuana Recommendations, Marijuana Lawyer Blog, May 16, 2011