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Feds Continue to Waste Resources, Meddle in State Cannabis Policy

Sam Sabzehzar 2011-10-19 0 comments

By Robert Raich  |  Published on

Angel and Robert Raich

The federal government’s recent attacks on medical cannabis providers are a disgraceful waste of precious resources.

Barack Obama himself said as a presidential candidate that “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws on this issue.”

His Administration, however, has repeatedly targeted medical cannabis providers through several agencies, with the most recent attacks coming from U.S. Attorneys in the form of letters to California landlords threatening criminal prosecution and property forfeiture if they continue to lease to dispensaries.

This flood of intimidating letters from U.S. Attorneys is a rerun of tactics used under the Bush Administration in an attempt to scare landlords away from leasing to legitimate medical cannabis businesses.

Although similar letters the DEA sent in 2007 and 2008 did not result in a single charge brought against a landlord, the letters did frighten some landlords into evicting cannabis dispensaries, forcing them to go out of business or relocate.

If the federal government succeeds in shutting down medical cannabis providers, hundreds, if not thousands, of Californians will lose their jobs.

Even though Mr. Obama claims he wants to create domestic jobs and resolve the massive underemployment problem facing America, his Administration is now vigorously attacking one of the few growing industries in today’s economy.

If these legitimate, taxpaying businesses are forced to shut down, their employees will be out of jobs and the patients they serve will be forced to patronize black marketeers to obtain medicine.

The Obama administration’s attacks on medical cannabis are a colossal waste of valuable resources this country cannot afford to lose.

Not only is the federal government wasting personnel and money targeting the medical cannabis industry in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where medical cannabis is authorized, but the end result will actually cost taxpayers even more precious money, as productive employees are forced out of jobs and into unemployment.

I find it impossible to figure out how Obama’s Administration thinks these shameful attacks on medicine providers are a smart use of resources for a government running massive, historic deficits.

Ominously, the Justice Department is not just targeting landlords. U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, of the Southern District of California, recently stated that she will send letters threatening prosecution to newspapers and TV and radio stations that run advertisements for dispensaries.

Apparently, the Department of Justice thinks the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, enshrined in the very First Amendment to the Constitution, do not apply when medical cannabis is the subject.

Other federal agencies are now also joining the attack on medical cannabis.

For example:  The IRS is attempting to drive dispensaries out of business by arguing that they cannot deduct normal business expenses that every other business in the country can deduct, such as rent and payroll. ATF is warning that cannabis patients who otherwise legally possess firearms are in violation of law and may face criminal prosecution. NIDA rejected an FDA-approved protocol for clinical research assessing the use of cannabis to treat PTSD, stating that NIDA will not facilitate “research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”

These are not the actions of an administration committed to the integrity of the scientific method or willing to respect the decisions of voters and lawmakers in states that recognize the medical efficacy of cannabis.

Our nation is facing serious financial challenges and can use every possible job and tax dollar, so it is baffling why the federal government is trying to force cannabis businesses to close down and their employees to lose their jobs. These businesses and employees pay their taxes.

In fact, federal, state, and local governments are already reaping significant tax money from the medical cannabis industry, but they will no longer receive any money if the Obama administration drives these enterprises out of business.

The federal government’s insistence on meddling with state sovereignty in medical cannabis states is ironically encouraging more lawlessness and disobedience to the law as patients resort to unregulated criminal elements to obtain their doctor-recommended medicine. The administration’s tactics are an abominable waste of resources and money that will ruin countless lives along the way.


Robert A. Raich specializes in medical cannabis law. He is the attorney who took both of the medical cannabis cases to the United States Supreme Court. His website is