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Momentum Swinging Against Medical Marijuana

Grower13

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Published: Thursday, 19 Apr 2012 | 4:10 PM ET

By: Heesun Wee, Special to CNBC.com

After a decade of inroads for medical marijuana, momentum may be reversing course.During the past year, there’s been a growing federal push to undercut medical EDITmarijuana laws in states[/URL] including Washington, Montana, California and Colorado. A key turning point was a June 2011 Justice Department memothat prosecutors have used as ammunition to shut down dispensaries or jack up licensing fees.
The memo and subsequent enforcement have made it difficult for the small businesses to stay afloat, say advocates of legalized marijuana.
“There has been pushback,” says Robert Corry, a Denver-based attorney who specializes in marijuana laws.
Corry is advising some dispensary owners to close shop and operate on a small scale privately, as allowed by state law. It’s not worth the fees and hassles, he says.
He says roughly 50 Colorado dispensaries have already closed this year.
In one case of marijuana law enforcement, EDIT]federal authorities raided[/URL] dozens of Montana marijuana dispensaries in March 2011. That state’s once-thriving community of medical dispensaries has virtually disappeared, despite voter-approved EDIT]medical marijuana use[/URL] in 2004.
Two Takes on a Memo
Momentum swung decidedly against marijuana laws last June, when the U.S. Department of Justice issued a [EDIT]memo[/URL] on medical marijuana stating that cultivating and selling marijuana are activities that violate the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law.
“States thought as long as they’re following state law they were not going to be targeted. But that hasn’t been the case,” says Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the [EDITB]Marijuana Policy Project[/URL][/B].
Instead, the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Attorney's office interpreted the Cole memo (named after the author James Cole, a deputy attorney general) as an EDITopen season[/URL] to target medical marijuana dispensaries, advocates say.
Pushback From Colorado to Montana
The pushback and changes are visible in Colorado. EDIT]U.S. Attorney John Walsh[/URL] began shipping notices in January to medical marijuana dispensaries around the state. They had 45 days to close or face prosecution, according to the [EDIT"]notices[/URL]. New warnings were issued in EDIT"]March[/URL].
Walsh's target: dispensaries locatedwithin 1,000 feet of schools.
“The U.S. attorney has been engaging with local law enforcement to come up with a strategy to deal with the issue of marijuana, especially marijuana near schools, where children could easily have access to them,” says Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for Walsh.
In the city of Denver and Denver County, there hasn't been a single reported incident of medical marijuana dispensaries selling to minors without authorization since they opened shop, according to Denver’s Office of the Manager of Safety, which tracks such data.
Attorney Corry says Colorado makes it extremely difficult for minors to purchase medical marijuana, including the requirement of documents from doctors and guardians.
“There are dozens of pages of rules including a mandatory camera in every facility, and mandatory tracking of every sale,” adds Brian Vicente, another attorney specializing in marijuana law in Colorado.

In Montana, authorities have moved more aggressively.
Marijuana dispensaries were raided and shuttered last year. Federal officials swooped in even though dispensary owners already were cooperating with local police for inspections of storefronts and cultivation sites, says Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project.
[editTom Daubert[/URL], who helped draft the 2004 voter-approved marijuana initiative in Montana, now faces a legal battle over a federal drug charge. He was co-owner of one of the raided dispensaries.
“There just seems to be a huge disparity among states” as to how marijuana laws are enforced, says Rebecca Richman Cohen, writer and director of “[BeditB]Code of the West[/URL][/B][/B],” a EDITfilm[/URL] that documented the Montana legislature’s crackdown on medical marijuana 2011.
Looking back on that tumultuous year, Cohen says both sides may been caught off guard by what the voter-approved medical marijuana law unleashed.
Demand for medical marijuana rose as dispensaries popped up. Giant billboards touted cannabis. Even those who supported the initiative grew uneasy about medical marijuana's growing visibility in the state. Soon, marijuana law and jurisdiction — already a gray legal area —escalated into an emotional, moral battle about the state's very future
Patient Impact
Despite the recent federal pushback against medical marijuana, several states are simultaneously considering additional EDITstates[/URL] and Washington, D.C., already allow some medical use of marijuana with a doctor’s authorization. Those 16 states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Vermont.
Meantime, patients seeking medical marijuana may have to travel further because of dispensary closures.
Medical studies have shown that marijuana works well to treat pain and muscle spasms among those suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, says Dr. Greg Carter, a physician based in Washington state and co-author of “EDITB]Medical Marijuana 101[/URL][/B].”
Marijuana is also used to treat cancer, severe nausea, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain from such incidents as whiplash
Montana resident Sarah Baugh has been using medical marijuana to successfully treat epilepsy, something traditional pharmaceuticals couldn't do.Patients say medical-grade cannabis is difficult to cultivate at home, and that black market marijuana isn't as effective at treating illnesses.
Says Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project: “Whether they like to admit it or not, current federal actions are hurting individual patients and funding the criminals they are supposed to be targeting."
 

OGKushman

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One
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America



hXXp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35TbGjt-weA&feature=youtube_gdata_player
 

NorCalHal

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It sure aint slowin' here. Maybe there is something in being a "maverick".
 

ozzydiodude

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It's like this Olamo had big plans to legalize MJ til he was shown how much the gov't relies on the "illegal" drug sells to balance it books. If he can find a way to replace the money from "illegal" drugs that the gov't sells then he can legalize mj
 

Grower13

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sorry hick...... I tried to kill the links
 
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Roddy

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Too many taking advantage or just breaking the laws in order to profit instead of help, too much corruption...even those who help to make the laws break them. Perceived or not, these are what's killing us all! No one is reporting on all the good MJ does, just the bad, those who don't know better only see what's reported....isn't a wonder why the sway...

A friend posted HAPPY 420 on facebook, another questioned why....had no clue what 420 meant. After explaining for both (the friend pretty much posted it toward me, not a smoker), the discussion went to MMJ. The person asking the questions had no idea, just figured we were bad people breaking laws.....
 
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Roddy

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ozzydiodude said:
It's like this Olamo had big plans to legalize MJ til he was shown how much the gov't relies on the "illegal" drug sells to balance it books. If he can find a way to replace the money from "illegal" drugs that the gov't sells then he can legalize mj
For MMJ, Obama's not needed, the court of public opinion is...we're passing the laws on state lvl, we need people in the states to understand and to support. Sure, would be great if Obama was on board, but for MMJ, he's really just another negative voice.
 
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Roddy

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NorCalHal said:
It sure aint slowin' here. Maybe there is something in being a "maverick".
Gonna guess that "maverick" in the wheelchair is gonna turn up as a poster boy against MJ...something he was supposed to be helping.
 

NorCalHal

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Roddy said:
Too many taking advantage or just breaking the laws in order to profit instead of help, too much corruption...even those who help to make the laws break them. Perceived or not, these are what's killing us all! No one is reporting on all the good MJ does, just the bad, those who don't know better only see what's reported....isn't a wonder why the sway...

A friend posted HAPPY 420 on facebook, another questioned why....had no clue what 420 meant. After explaining for both (the friend pretty much posted it toward me, not a smoker), the discussion went to MMJ. The person asking the questions had no idea, just figured we were bad people breaking laws.....
IMO, it is opposite of what you are tryin' to say. The more the Feds intervene, the more it helps the movement.
Perception has nothing to do with it, as it is allready legal in 16 States. If it was as bad as you would like to believe, then States would be rolling back thier mmj laws, which is not happening.

It really doesn't matter what they report in the news, laws are on the books.
I have seen first hand the mental change the Police have made against MMJ. They don't touch it with a 10 foot pole. If you are under 99 and have a rec, they walk.
Dispensaries on the other hand are still tryin' to find thier place. We recently had a Cali Supreme court decision come down declaring that Cities cannot ban dispensaries. That unto itself is a major step for the movement. I suspect many to reopen in towns that previously banned them, including my own.
Of course, the threat of Federal intervention is allways there. That will be a few more years before they jump on board, which they will eventually, we just won't like it when they do.
 
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Roddy

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NorCalHal said:
IMO, it is opposite of what you are tryin' to say. The more the Feds intervene, the more it helps the movement.
Perception has nothing to do with it, as it is allready legal in 16 States. If it was as bad as you would like to believe, then States would be rolling back thier mmj laws, which is not happening.

It really doesn't matter what they report in the news, laws are on the books.
I have seen first hand the mental change the Police have made against MMJ. They don't touch it with a 10 foot pole. If you are under 99 and have a rec, they walk.
Dispensaries on the other hand are still tryin' to find thier place. We recently had a Cali Supreme court decision come down declaring that Cities cannot ban dispensaries. That unto itself is a major step for the movement. I suspect many to reopen in towns that previously banned them, including my own.
Of course, the threat of Federal intervention is allways there. That will be a few more years before they jump on board, which they will eventually, we just won't like it when they do.
Tell that to the states wanting and hoping to get MMJ. ;)

As for johnny law looking the other way, great and glad to see it, hope that keeps going in our favor! Keep in mind that's not nationwide though, some states, some counties even, are "dry" and enforce. They'll some day come to realize. I personally don't know what the "mood" around my area is like, guessing "friendly" since we still have dispensaries open. A few counties up, though...

Dispensaries, there's where the feds will sit and do the most damage...and as I said, they'll likely use that big bust out there as one of their warcries! Smack citizens in the face with the fact someone willing to put up so much money in the pretense to help the sick was really only in it to line his pockets, get that perception machine spinning (no clue what the truth is in it and don't care nor judge...but it's not me we need to worry about).
 

NorCalHal

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Roddy said:
Tell that to the states wanting and hoping to get MMJ. ;)

As for johnny law looking the other way, great and glad to see it, hope that keeps going in our favor! Keep in mind that's not nationwide though, some states, some counties even, are "dry" and enforce. They'll some day come to realize. I personally don't know what the "mood" around my area is like, guessing "friendly" since we still have dispensaries open. A few counties up, though...

Dispensaries, there's where the feds will sit and do the most damage...and as I said, they'll likely use that big bust out there as one of their warcries! Smack citizens in the face with the fact someone willing to put up so much money in the pretense to help the sick was really only in it to line his pockets, get that perception machine spinning (no clue what the truth is in it and don't care nor judge...but it's not me we need to worry about).
I am not worried about other states at all in getting thier MMJ. It has been on the books in States since 1996, and if any particular State does not have it on thier books, that is the fault of the citizens, not because of other States and there MMJ programs.

There are many obsticles to overcome once a State has MMJ laws on thier books. It takes many years after passage for State and local LEO to even grasp that the law has changed. It takes MANY more court cases to go though local court systems to even clarify it.
More importantly, it takes the citizens of a MMJ legal State to stand up and bring these cases thru the court system. It really takes folks pushing grey areas to the limit to get the laws clarified.

Dispensaries are still flourishing around my parts. One closes, another opens.
Believe that you will not here anything about Lee and his woes being the battle cry for the Feds. They simply wanted him to shut up, not prosecute. They let dude go, no charges filed. What does that really say.
 
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Roddy

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State does not have it on thier books, that is the fault of the citizens, not because of other States and there MMJ programs.

It really takes folks pushing grey areas to the limit to get the laws clarified.

IDK Hal, sounds like some states (Ohio, for example) have been trying...you have to remember it takes the same citizens to pass the law in the first place. And you have to remember that those trying are fighting a tide of naysayers that are hearing nothing but the bad this stuff supposedly does!

They let dude go, no charges filed. What does that really say.

No charges....if any of us had done that, it'd be called ROBBERY!! I hear ya on the dispensaries, my visitor yesterday told me there's now 3 more dispensaries in the larger town near me, I know of a friend who opened one in a small town just around the corner...they're thriving here in my county. Wish we could get rid of a few state heads...
 

getnasty

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Roddy said:
IDK Hal, sounds like some states (Ohio, for example) have been trying...you have to remember it takes the same citizens to pass the law in the first place. And you have to remember that those trying are fighting a tide of naysayers that are hearing nothing but the bad this stuff supposedly does!
Perception is huge. I don't care what anybody says. 4 years ago, Ohio attempted to have MMJ put on the ballot. If memory serves correctly, we got the votes needed to have it put on the ballot but our state government refused it. We went through the hoops, and are in the midst of acquiring signatures to finalize being put on the ballot this year. This time, the state government cannot intervene, as a petition was put out last year to prove that Ohioans want it on the ballot (a loophole).

Long story short, perception of the movement in the West has been a large part of why we've had so much trouble getting it put on the ballot and legalized. 76% of polled Ohioans support the legalization of MMJ in Ohio. Our government is largely conservative, and does not share the same opinion of its people; or so it seems. With the recent uproar in MMJ within the last 5-7 years, we're gaining ground with them to pursue the movement here in Ohio. I'm willing to bet my next month's wages that our government has a watchful eye on the goings on in states where MMJ is legal.
 

NorCalHal

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Sounds like Ohio doesn't have it's stuff together...at all.
To me, it looks like Perception is what gave you 76% of folks polled to favor legalization of mmj.
From what you wrote, you guys didn't have all your T's crossed and I's dotted when you tried the first time. Shoot man, 76% is bigger then most all states in the West who favor legalization.
Take charge, and stop blaming. States in the West didn't pass laws because we care about what our goverment thinks, we passed them WITHOUT the "approval" of State Goverment. If you get enough voters to actually go out and vote, then you can basically put anyting on the ballot and approve it without the State aggreeing.
That is why the have Voter approved ballots.

So, it sounds like Ohioans have figured out how thier state goverment works and went thru the "loopholes" to get it placed on the ballot. This should have been done the first time...4 years ago.
 

pcduck

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No Hal Ohio is just slow to jump on board.:laugh: Plus I do believe they missed a hoop last time.

They sit and watch what the surrounding states are doing and then they jump on board. After losing out for years. Then when they do jump on board, they will still screw it up some how, some way. :rofl:

Hopefully we will get it right this time, but I doubt it:(
I am thinking we have 2 mmj initiatives on the ballot this Nov. People will be confused again:laugh:

FYI: For most Ohioans West is anywhere past the border with Indiana and North is the border with Mi. :rofl:
 

getnasty

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It has to be governed and regulated. The government isn't going to let private citizens do that. The issues we are perceiving that are going on out West largely impact how it will be governed and regulated should it be voted into effect in November. I don't see how you don't see how perception plays a large role in this. At all.
 

NorCalHal

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getnasty said:
It has to be governed and regulated. The government isn't going to let private citizens do that. The issues we are perceiving that are going on out West largely impact how it will be governed and regulated should it be voted into effect in November. I don't see how you don't see how perception plays a large role in this. At all.
Well, so far, it has been privately regulated by the citizens, and has been for 14 years now. Sure, there are general guidelines that the State Goverment has set forth, but that only deals with proximity of cultivation sites and storefront dispensaries.All "Lab: testing and distribution has been set up by the citizens.

The main reason I don't agree with the "perception" issue is simple, MANY other States have passed thier own MMJ laws on thier own allready. Even MI. If perseption was such an issue with other States, then why does MI recognise Other States Scripts? Wouldn't they deny other States scripts because of the bad "perception" and that other states freely give out recs to anyone who wants one?

The "Perception": argument is nothing but an excuse in my eyes. Didn't anyone take goverment class in high skool? If you want change, you vote it in. Simple as that. If your State goverment does not back it, tough cookies, the Citizens can still vote in laws that the State HAS to follow.
You say 76% of folks in your State want MMJ. That is FAR more then most states had when they passed thier MMJ laws. You guys should have NO issue passing a MMJ law, perception or not.

You guys mistake perception for propaganda. The Propaganda machine is what the real problem is.
 

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