Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers – along with many others supporters in the Los Angeles medical marijuana community – have been puzzled by the federal crackdown on legitimate dispensaries, following promises made by President Barack Obama when he was a candidate.
Many of us view this as a major hypocrisy by this administration, and one that has negatively impacted not only the cities and towns that have been forced to pay to battle costly litigation (or else face federal ire), but also the above-board business owners and not least of all, the patients.
Yet, we have not heard much from the president on the reasoning – until now.
In a recent Rolling Stones interview, Obama for the first time since the crackdown is answering questions about it. That’s not to say we’re satisfied with the answers, but at least it provides some level of insight.
Back in October, prosecutors formally announced they would launch a major legal campaign against the state’s legally-sanctioned medical marijuana. This came contrary to Obama’s campaign promise not to execute federal enforcement efforts to circumvent medical marijuana laws in states where it was already legal, California included.
Now, finally answering to critics, Obama said that he never promised to ignore federal law, which states that the sale and use of marijuana is illegal. Period. And even if he did make that promise, he says, he couldn’t have because it is Congress, not the executive branch, that is responsible for the laws. He said he could not nullify Congressional law.
He then went on to discuss how Congress recently addressed the racial disparity among those convicted for crimes involving crack cocaine versus those convicted of crimes involving white powder cocaine. He also touched on how there should be greater emphasis on treatment, rather than incarceration, for those convicted of drug crimes.
This response is glaringly underwhelming and it completely sidesteps the issue of medical marijuana in terms of public health.
He pointed the finger at large-scale operators and producers of marijuana, who may in fact be servicing legitimate marijuana patients, but who may also be supplying those who are using the drug for recreational purposes. But under this logic, why not prosecute all doctors who prescribe pain medications? Clearly, those are abused in far greater numbers – and to the greater detriment of society – than medical marijuana.
Obama said he could not legally ask the federal Justice Department to ignore federal law entirely. What he can do, he said, is advice the agency to use “prosecutorial discretion and to prioritize resources so that we’re only expending them on the operations that are really having a negative impact on communities.
The problem is, they apparently aren’t listening because the medical marijuana industry continues to be a prime target for federal prosecutors.
And in fact, when prosecutors have gone after those in the industry, they’re not citing some greater societal impact. They’re simply saying it’s against federal law – which falls under the president’s purview.
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 949-375-4734 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.