By Dion Markgraaff
The United States President, Barrack Obama, and his administration have launched a new assault on Californiaâ€™s sovereignty and the rights of its citizens. In a top level orchestrated announcement about pending attacks, Obama has decided to assault California and the medical cannabis community. Seemingly, every aspect of fundamental freedom â€“ taxes, assembly, guns, banking, self-determination, health decisions and speech â€“ has been deemed illegal and forbidden if medical cannabis is involved. Californiaâ€™s U.S. attorneys announced together at a news conference that all â€œillegalâ€ dispensaries must close throughout the state within 45 days or face civil and criminal charges.
What happened to Obama and his promises of change? What happened to respecting science over politics (i.e. old guard money)? According to these same federal overlords, natural cannabis still does not have any proven medical value (hence, itâ€™s prohibited Schedule I drug status). That is unless the cannabinoids come in the form of a pharmaceutical synthetic tablet, like Marinol â€“ the 100% THC pill sold nationally for many years as a Schedule III drug.
The Presidentâ€™s May 20th, 2009 memorandum on the issue of federal preemption on respecting state laws has been ignored by everyone including himself. His order 2 Â½ years ago to his troops stated in part, â€œThe purpose of this memorandum is to state the general policy of my administration; that preemption of state law by executive departments and agencies should be undertaken only with full consideration of the legitimate prerogatives of the states and with a sufficient legal basis for preemption. Executive departments and agencies should be mindful that in our federal system, the citizens of the several states have distinctive circumstances and values, and that in many instances, it is appropriate for them to apply to themselves rules and principles that reflect these circumstances and values. As Justice Brandeis explained more than 70 years ago, â€˜It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.â€™â€
Random Widespread Terror
Who is going to be targeted? Everyone? Why? Remember the last big attack in San Diego on 09-09-09? Of all the places raided that day, only two people were chosen for federal charges: James Stacy of Vista, who had no criminal record, was singled out for no apparent reason. The only evidence against him when he was raided was that he provided 10 grams of medical cannabis to an undercover cop, who had a valid recommendation from a local doctor. The government sting occurred 10 days after Stacy had opened the collective. When all the charges were added up, he faced life in prison. However, after a long hard fight for his rights (and the facts of the case), he got 2 years probation â€“ a â€œlightâ€ sentence.
The feds are sending threatening letters to collectives and their landlords all over California. According to Lauren Horwood, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorneyâ€™s Office in Sacramento, â€œ[This happened] because the U.S. attorneys felt the need for it. It has been in the process for awhile. As illegal operations were becoming more and more prolific, something needed to be done by the federal governmentâ€¦Itâ€™s important that people know that just because you donâ€™t get a letter, it doesnâ€™t mean you are OK. The purpose of the press event last Friday was to let everyone know if you are distributing marijuana, you are out of compliance with federal lawâ€¦In federal law, there is no distinction; all marijuana is illegal,â€ she said. â€œThey are targeting commercial sized growing and distribution operations. They have made a point of saying they are not going after a cancer patient with a few pots in the backyard.â€
In political science terms, this policy is called â€œlow intensity warfare (conflict).â€
The Pillars of Freedom crumbling further under Obama
Sovereignty â€“ Following the U.S. Constitution or the 10th Amendment does not mean much to Obama, and he has no respect for a democratic vote for a law that is 15 years old. Instead, he is working to steal land while imprisoning people who stand up for patients working to help themselves with obtaining their medicine.
Health Care â€“ The right to make decisions for our health. Our right to medicine that helps relieve sickness and pain.
Guns â€“ On September 21, 2011, the ATF issued a memo to all federally licensed firearm dealers telling them that it was a violation of federal law to sell guns or ammunition to anyone that uses cannabis to relieve an illness, even if they are obeying state medical cannabis laws.
Banks â€“ California collectives are finding that the use of banks is becoming more difficult. In Colorado, 1000-plus cannabis businesses have been totally shutout from using banks because of federal intimidation.
Taxes â€“ taxation without representation â€“ Harborside Health Center just got hit with a $2.4 million tax bill after an IRS audit of their 2007 and 2008 tax returns. The government ruled that the dispensary could not make normal business deductions, which includes standard operating costs like rent, payroll, employee health insurance, and licensing fees, because cannabis is a Schedule I drug. Harborside has over 90,000 registered members, 84 full-time employees, and annual sales of $22 million. The group also pays a special local medical cannabis tax of 5% ($1,081,450.00 in 2011), which the organization helped pass.
The Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, one of the oldest licensed cannabis dispensaries, received a $1 million IRS bill in March and a letter to its landlord from the feds to shut down. â€œThis is ridiculous! After 14 years of paying taxes and doing everything else we were supposed to do, I think that Obama has turned his back on the medical marijuana movement; the people who worked hard to put him into office,â€ said Lynette Shaw, the dispensaryâ€™s founder and owner, to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The California Board of Equalization estimates that medical cannabis collectives have annual revenues of up to $1.3 billion and produce sales taxes of as much as $105 million. Legal dispensaries can be regulated and taxed; but they should have rights too!
Assembly â€“ the right to get together â€“ the definition of collective. The federal government says they will somewhat tolerate individuals who attempt to help themselves with medical cannabis (an individual grow), but not people coming together to help each other.
Speech â€“ Now what we write is subject to government scrutiny? Where is the line? One mid-level manager/lieutenant is going to decide the degree of allowable speech?
In an interview with California Watch, local U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy, whose district includes Imperial and San Diego counties, said medical cannabis advertising is the next area sheâ€™s â€œgoing to be moving onto as part of the enforcement efforts in Southern California.â€
â€œIâ€™m not just seeing print advertising,â€ Duffy said in an interview with California Watch and KQED. â€œIâ€™m actually hearing radio and seeing TV advertising. It has gone mainstream. Not only is it inappropriate, but one has to wonder what kind of message weâ€™re sending to our children; itâ€™s against the law.â€ Since medical cannabis IS legal in California, the message to our children and the rest of society is that the government is not obeying the law.
â€œIf I own a newspaper â€¦or I own a TV station, and Iâ€™m going to take in your money to place these ads, Iâ€™m the person who is placing these ads,â€ Duffy said. â€œI am willing to read [the law] expansively, and if a court wants to more narrowly define it, that would be up to the court.â€ Hmmmâ€¦and medical cannabis patients are meant to be the guinea pig in her experimentation to find a definition.
Duffy said she believes federal laws give her the right to prosecute newspaper publishers or TV station owners. However, days later on San Diego KPBS, she seemed to back off her previous statements. She said, â€œWhile advertisers, those folks placing ads and running ads, are not the primary focus of our current enforcement activities, we are concerned about the nature and the extent of the advertisements we are seeing.â€ KPBS stated, â€œHer comments about cracking down on medical marijuana advertisements along with dispensaries have taken on a life of their own. She said the main priority for the U.S. Attorneyâ€™s office is shutting down dispensaries it believes have become commercial enterprises.â€
What does this mean? Not sure, but one guess is that everyone will be more cautious about everything from where publications are distributed to the speech used (i.e. the end of coupons and specials perhaps).
Threats and actions
The U.S. Federal Government has a long history of using threats to get people to obey, especially when the subject is cannabis. The feds did a similar round of threatening letters in 2007, which were somewhat effective in scaring landlords, but did little to slow the growth of the number of dispensaries. Now, the government has given California collective storefronts 45 days to close or they will have to face losing their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. However, in Southern California, the feds already announced charges against many Lake Forrest collectives and one collective group of 6 people from San Marcos. The local people helped run a dispensary that had changed its name from Medical Marijuana Supply Collective to Club One Collective.
The Obama government has been threating government officials across the country as well, from Washington to Rhode Island, with prosecutions if they respected the vote and will of the people they represent. The Huffington Post published an article on their website titled Marijuana Prohibition’s Legal Insanity Continues, where they stated: The PBS show Frontline recently aired a report titled Pot Republic, where they interviewed Tommy Lanier, the National Marijuana Policy Coordinator who â€œhelps coordinate national marijuana strategy with the office of the White House drug czar.â€ When asked specifically about â€œwarning letters from their local U.S. attorneys, and now from Washington,â€ Lanier replied, â€œI think what the U.S. attorneys have done is an extremely great way to send a message to everybody that this is the position of the Department of Justice. And it doesn’t matter if you’re in California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan; this is the standard.â€ When asked further whether a local sheriff in California who has been working with medical marijuana growers [to come up with regulations for monitoring legal growers] could be under some kind of legal threat from the feds, Lanier answered, â€œYes. Whether it’s a permit program, regulation, or something like that, they’re against federal law. And yes, they could be a target.â€
All government officials are increasingly facing the prospect of questioning their own fundamental beliefs about who they will follow and the morality of doing something they know is wrong under the false pretext of obeying orders. City (Jan Goldsmith) and state workers (District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Attorney General Kamala Harris) are not following the law, which may leave them open to civil and criminal charges.
Time for a Revolution/Change â€“ the 1% (old guard) war vs. the 99% (new guard)
Despite everything, we, the medical cannabis community, must move ahead. We are now forced to deal with reality and go back to work to fulfill the promise to ourselves and to the future. If we are required to move underground, then we will still continue to meet our goals of helping to evolve â€œthe powers that beâ€ â€“ forwards, not backwards. Letâ€™s hope the impending collateral damage is not too severe. Take all necessary precautions and hide your children; you are paying for your government to come after you and your human rights.
Who knows, this new offensive in the war against people/some â€œdrugsâ€ might be a good thing if it motivates society to end cannabis prohibition. Could this be our burning man Tunisian moment? The breaking point? Will we finally be able to have the collective vision to see that the emperor wears no clothes?
Governments have the power to force people into temporary submission, but the people have the ultimate power. This often long unused power of the people is needed now. It often takes a major event(s) to move the people into exercising that power. Maybe Obamaâ€™s biggest and best legacy will be in his immoral deeds. He will motivate the masses to make real positive change and legalize cannabis sooner rather than later.