As the presidential election nears, it remains to be seen whether Barack Obama’s reneged promises to refrain from targeting legal medical marijuana dispensaries will have an impact.
Los Angeles marijuana lawyers realize the only thing that might be in his favor is that his opponent, former Gov. Mitt Romney, hasn’t promised anything better.
Four years ago, medical marijuana advocates, patients and entrepreneurs offered their enthusiastic support of Obama four years ago. But many marijuana voters say it feels a bit like a bait-and-switch.
Despite pledges from both Obama (during and after his campaign) and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder not to go after medical marijuana dispensaries that were operating within the law, federal prosecutors throughout the state launched a massive campaign to do just that. Most recently, that push has culminated in raids in Los Angeles, accompanied by nearly 70 warning notices ordering downtown dispensaries to shut down.
It’s not clear exactly how much of an impact this could have on Obama. We do know that a number of those who supported him with financial donations four years ago aren’t offering him the same now.
One great example is a former patient of Harborside Health Center in Oakland. A patient interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle was quoted as saying that in 2008, he donated $500 to Obama’s campaign, and he rallied 10 family members to do the same. Not so this year, after the Oakland dispensary was targeted by officials with the U.S. attorney’s office for being “too big.” As that patient noted, it’s difficult to vote for someone who believes you’re a criminal.
In fairness, the Justice Department did issue a directive to local U.S. attorneys not to prioritize cases in which medical marijuana dispensaries and providers were acting in a manner that was clearly in compliance with state law. But apparently, the U.S. attorneys have lost sight of priorities. That, or they have nothing better to do.
It’s unfortunately not likely that this lack of support will result in the president’s inability to secure California’s 55 electoral votes.
But he should consider that with 17 other states and the District of Columbia having legalized medical marijuana, he may be in for more of a fight than he thinks – particularly in places like Colorado, which is considered to be a battleground state.
The operator of one marijuana dispensary in Denver was saying she was immensely disappointed, after having to lay off some 20 employees due to the fact that her bank had stopped allowing her access to an account.
While Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan had said during a campaign stop that the issue should be decided by state governments, the Romney campaign was quick to follow that up with the assurance that both Ryan and Romney oppose the legalization of marijuana for any reason on a federal level.
Essentially, it comes down to whether Obama is the lesser of two evils. Some have described it as being torn between “disappointment or disaster.”
Take your pick.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Medical pot advocates cool to Obama, Sept. 30, 2012, By Dan Freedman, San Francisco Chronicle
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, Sept. 27, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Laywers Blog