The First 
Pot President

Obama decides to let legalization in Washington and Colorado stand. 
This is a landmark moment in the dismantling of the war on drugs created by his predecessors.

Comments

1
Yea, because Obama and Holder are not filthy scum liars or anything.

Obama has waged the biggest war against medical marijuana of any president, which was the opposite of what he had promised

In May 2008, Obama campaign spokesperson Ben LaBolt said that Obama would end DEA raids on medical marijuana in states where it’s legal. Also in 2008, Obama said that he supported the “basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs” and that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws.”

However, in February 2010, DEA agents raided a medical marijuana grower in Highlands Ranch in Colorado, a state where medical marijuana is legal. Also in February 2010, DEA agents raided a medical marijuana dispensary in Culver City in California, a state where medical marijuana is legal. In July 2010, the DEA raided at least four medical marijuana growers in San Diego, California. Also in July 2010, the DEA raided a medical marijuana facility in Covelo, California. Then in September 2010, the DEA conducted raids on at least five medical marijuana dispensaries in Las Vegas, Nevada, where medical marijuana is legal. In 2011, the DEA conducted raids on medical marijuana in Seattle, Washington, West Hollywood, California, and Helena, Montana, all places where it is legal. In April 2012, the DEA carried out several raids on medical marijuana in Oakland, California.

In February 2012, Rolling Stone magazine wrote that Obama’s war against medical marijuana went “far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush.” In April 2012, Mother Jones magazine wrote: “The president campaigned on the promise that he’d stop federal raids on medical marijuana operations that were in compliance with state laws, a vow that Attorney General Eric Holder repeated after the election. But then the Obama administration raided more than 100 dispensaries in its first three years and is now poised to outpace the Bush administration’s crackdown record.” In May 2012, the Washington Post wrote: “Obama has become more hostile to medical marijuana patients than any president in U.S. history.” In May 2012, U.S. Congressperson Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said she had “strong concerns” about Obama’s forced closure of five medical marijuana facilities in Pelosi’s congressional district. In April 2012, commenting on Obama’s crackdown on medical marijuana, U.S. Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) said, “I’m very disappointed… They look more like the Bush administration than the Clinton administration.”

In July 2012, federal prosecutors filed civil forfeiture actions against Harborside Health Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, CA, which claims to be the world’s largest, and which claims to serve more than 100,000 medical marijuana patients. In April 2012, federal agents raided Oaksterdam University, an educational institution in Oakland, CA, which teaches people about medical marijuana. In April 2012, federal agents raided a medical marijuana facility which had been serving 1,500 patients near Lake Elsinore, CA. In June 2012, the Obama administration filed asset-forfeiture lawsuits against two landlords who rented their buildings to medical marijuana stores in Santa Fe Springs, CA. The Obama administration also sent warning letters which threatened similar legal action to dozens of other, nearby landlords. During the first seven months of 2012, the DEA shut down40 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, all of which had been operating in compliance with state and local law.

In July 2013, the DEA conducted multiple medical marijuana raids in Washington state, including the cities of Olympia, Tacoma, and Seattle.

In May 2012, ABC News reported that during Obama’s youth, he often smoked large quantities of recreational marijuana. Obama’s marijuana smoking wasn’t even medical – it was recreational. And yet now, he is taking large scale, widespread action to prevent people with AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and other illnesses, who have prescriptions from their doctors, from using their prescription medicine – how cold hearted can a person be?
2
Excellent response Cascadian Bacon. Very well written. Thank you so much for sharing this.
3
Excellent response Cascadian Bacon. Very well written. Thank you so much for sharing this.
4
I think the other interesting aspect is this doesn't force a supreme court case where the Controlled Substances Act could be rendered an illegal infringement on state's rights for all states.
5
@1) You're right that the Obama Administration has busted many medical marijuana businesses (and many "medical marijuana" businesses). They have wasted resources and, in some cases, busted those people serving patients with a legitimate need. It's awful. But you're also leaving out an important nuance: Federal enforcement has focused largely on people violating their own state's medical marijuana laws, flagrantly profiting and selling to people who aren't sick.

When Ben LaBolt made that comment on behalf of the Obama campaign in 2008, he also referred to medical marijuana in compliance with state laws. "Obama supports the rights of states and local governments to make this choice," he told the Chronicle. Likewise, when the DOJ issued the so-called Ogden memo in 2009, it stressed that prosecutors "should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana." Likewise, a 2011 memo by Deputy Attorney General James Cole noted that, while large purveyors in particular got no immunity from federal prosecution, "efficient use of limited federal resources as articulated in the Ogden Memorandum has not changed."

Federal enforcement in Washington and many other states has focused on people breaking the spirit and letter of state medical pot laws. For instance, the man running Seattle Cannabis Cooperative pleaded guilty to selling pound-quantities of marijuana to people who weren't patients. That wasn't a medical marijuana bust--that was apparently someone abusing the medical marijuana law to make a profit. It had never been legalized.

Most important, though, is the latest decree. In the latest memo from Cole, he says that the DOJ will essentially stand back in states where a strict framework exists. They will even allow large-scale operations that follow state rules. For the first time in US history, Washington State and Colorado have put forth an extremely rigorous regulatory and enforcement mechanism for the marijuana industry (licenses, industry standards, specially crafted state-level enforcement). In light of those proposals, the Feds take this new stance. And while the Obama administration has overstepped in medical marijuana in some cases--mostly cases where business owners have crossed the line--most of the medical marijuana industry is still thriving, particularly when it's following the rules. In that vein, given the strict new laws for recreational marijuana, the latest decree to let the laws proceed is a significant shift in message, tactics, and enforcement guidelines. And it suggests that the legal recreational pot industry, if it follows the rules, will also be allowed to thrive.
6
And thus the cause of Freedom continues, as we in the West roll Freedom over the country, from the shores eastwards.
7
Excellent article, Dominic.

One other aspect to this may be political. Shortly after 502 passed, I was talking with a friend in DC about what he expected from the feds. His take, based on some of the buzz he had heard, was that Colorado's importance as a swing state meant that the Obama Administration would be much less likely to go hardline against legalization. He suggested that had Washington state alone legalized, the DOJ may have taken a tougher stance. But with Colorado on board, too, politics may have pushed Obama toward a more open position.

Just as you described this as a tactical move with regard to drug policy, it very well may also have been tactical with regard to politics and the electorate.
8
I fully support busts of medical/recreational marijuana growers and distributors that violate state laws. With the trading of jailing non-violent users for merely fining them, there should be plenty of money to focus on the real criminals. We need to effectively enforce regulations on the business in order to keep the laws in place and the naysayers from having any real point to make. I'm really looking forward to our state's society changing for the better in part because of all this.
9
The numbers do not seem realistic and the LCB did not have access to anyone’s true figures for their usage calculations..
Once again the powers that be would not listen to those of us in the industry who have been vetted and have accurate statistics regarding usage and production requirements.
They chose to use a prohibitionist to design their rules...why will our fellow citizens on those boards not take an honest approach to this issue and provide realist and workable rules and guidelines.
Common sense and compassion is all we ask
10
You'll get neither common sense or compassion from the staff at the Stranger. They we plotting the death of medical before I-502 was even passed, along with Alison Holcomb....and lying about it.

We aren't dead yet, Dominic!

11
Dominic,

You contend that the closing sentence of the DOJ directive is "boilerplate caveat"

"Finally, nothing herein precludes investigation or prosecution, even in the absence of any one of the factors listed above, in particular circumstances where investigation and prosecution serves an important federal interest."

It now seems that "an important federal interest." includes kissing up to the National Sheriffs’ Association and other law enforcement groups that have sent a letter to DOJ protesting this very directive.

"Aggressive California U.S. Attorney Plans to Keep Prosecuting Marijuana Cases
Melinda Haag says she'll ignore DOJ directive to back off medical marijuana dispensaries."

DAG Melinda Haag's statement comes even before U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy James Cole testify at a Judiciary Committee hearing Sept. 10th to discuss the ever growing conflict between state and federal marijuana laws.

Holder and Cole's PR fluff last Thursday has already been exposed as BS. Nothing has changed.
12
What about banking for businesses producing, distributing, and retailing? Any clarity on whether FDIC insured banks can get assurances from the Feds that they won't run afoul of racketeering charges or whatever?
13
Now we need to declare war on Rethugs!
14
Dominic,

"flagrantly profiting"? You say that like Capitalism in these good old United States of America is an actual crime. If not for the "flagrantly profiting" from the sales of ads the Stranger would be out of business and you would be out of a job.

Say... maybe that's not such a bad idea after all.
15


THOMASJOHNTAYLOR
• a minute ago △ ▽







Aloha From The Big island Hawaii,
Herbal Medication was created by, "GOD" and gave us a Big Bang! He Is The Burning Bush! All Ja Inspiration and Higher Thoughts Concerning The Freedom and Liberation For All Men. It Is A Cultural and Religious Pursuit We Are Walking Toward......Paradise On Earth. You Can Feel It Here In The Forrest and Jungle. On The Barren Lava Fields, Life begins On Its Own with Natures Help. man Comes Along and Controls The Land, Taxes and maintenance become necessary evils of Society. If you don't pay that society will take it all away. I am a Lifetime Artist/Oil-Painter that has been persecuted, incarcerated, tortured, fined, and disowned because of My Culture and Our Creation. I had 15 properties confiscated and spent years incarcerated until my 30's when I learned to use better security and could feel the trap forming and the set-up happening. Medical Marijuana, Religious Practice, Life-Long Pleasure, what ever it is called is still the same green and leafy plant that "GOD" created. Why Hasn't He been Charged??? All those families destroyed and separated, single parent families created to live off of welfare and food stamps. A vicious loop of insanity. STOP the tyranny! Set My People FREE
16
It's about 30 years too late to surrender.

The drugs won a long time ago.

Now let's do something about the "War on Terrorism".

Since the only people our Govt consider terrorists are the American public.
17
Oh Auntie, you know that patchouli is banned under the UN's chemical weapons rules.

You are no different than Assad.

Of course, you could always come at me, screaming; Peace Now!, whilst swinging your Fair-Trade, Certified Organic, shade grown hemp handbag.

I really could use the laugh right now.
18
It's true, recent events have cast some doubt on my prediction of a federal lawsuit trumping 502. When it became clear that big money was pushing for 502 to work, it also became clear that the politicians in D.C. would likely be swayed by the money. At that point I began to predict that the feds would not stand in the way. This memo is considerably weaker than what I had hoped for and expected.

What we have here, however, is less than clear. To call it "equivocal" would be an understatement. The last paragraph of the press release speaks for itself. What does the last paragraph mean? I was in Federal court yesterday with about 20 citizens who had been ticketed in national parks for cannabis. We had hoped that the Holder memo meant that they would not be prosecuted. No such luck. The assistant US Attorney was there with the Holder memo in hand. She had highlighted the last paragraph. She stated that the Holder memo would have no impact on the prosecution of minor offenders caught with pot in federal parks.

If there is some change in the federal policy, it's not being reflected where the rubber meets the road: in the courtroom.

Jeff Steinborn
19
According to Mark Kleiman, the grifter drug policy "expert", that scammed nearly $1,000,000 off the Liquor Control Board...on a $100,000 contract, this new recreational cannabis industry can only expect a 13% market share in their first year of operation. This, of course, was assuming they can produce a product at a price to compete with the "black market".

This we know is absolutely impossible based on the burdensome tax structure Alison Holcomb wrote into I-502. Kleiman and the LCB agree with this assessment, yet they did nothing to try to change that tax structure in the last session of the legislature and you can bet they won't do it in the upcoming session either. Holcomb lied in every debate over 502, claiming that prices would be so low the black market, and the medical market, couldn't possibly compete with the 502 stores.

Dominic Holden agreed with her. Now the chickens will be coming home to roost. These stores can't possibly compete and even that 13% market share prediction by Kleiman looks wildly optimistic.

Holcomb obviously lied, countless times, when we pointed out that I-502 would be used to kill off medical cannabis. Dominic Holden agreed with her. Since 502 passed, she and her buddies at NORML have gone on a campaign to disparage medical and they will now try to restrict it so severely in the next session that they will effectively end medical cannabis here in Washington. What DIDN'T these two lie about?

They said that we could get rid of the per se DUID law in the legislature, but not only did she make no attempt whatsoever to do that, but she got her slimey cohort, and 502 supporter, Rep. Roger Goodman to come up with 3 new per se DUID bills...without producing any evidence whatsoever that 5ng/ml of THC in blood was any legitimate way to determine impairment. Oh, and Roger through another bone to his big contributors in the Alcohol Interlock industry by forcing people stopped for a cannabis DUI to install an alcohol interlock device before being convicted of anything. This despite Goodman's own admission that these interlock devices are worthless for detecting THC.

We could go on and on about all the lies these people told to get I-502 passed the unsuspecting voters. So when they now tell you that the Feds have given their "OK" for large commercial recreational grows and retail cannabis stores, and we all know the Feds have lied every time they've said they won't waste resources on busting patients, and then proceeded to do exactly that.......

At what point does the public finally stop believing these liars? Do they think everyone in the public is really that stupid? Obviously so....and perhaps they're right. They keep getting caught telling whoppers and the public seems to keep buying the same lies...over and over again.

And if anyone hears from John McKay, who seems to have crawled back under his rock, will you please let him know that the Mexican cartels are still burying hundreds of headless bodies in ditches all over Mexico, despite the passage of I-502. Let him know that the Mexican cartels apparently didn't get his memo. Perhaps McKay needs to show up at a press conference with Vincente Fox, like Alison Holcomb, Roger Goodman, and everyone else, and pass along the message on in person.

Damn....the public is REALLY gullible! We'll be doing a "Pinnochio" button for Dominic too...his nose is getting longer by the day.

Steve Sarich
Cannabis Action Coalition
20
Steve makes some excellent points. Moreover, what needs to happen is marijuana needs to be rescheduled out of class I and Congress needs to put in writing that growers will not be prosecuted in Federal court if they follow state guidelines.

The last paragraph of the recent DOJ memo states that the feds reserve the right to prosecute anyone at anytime.

Someone who applies for a state license and grows over 1,000 plants is still at risk for Federal prosecution and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. And State law is not a defense!

All the records and documents provided to the state can all be used in court against a grower as evidence.

Many of my friends want to get involved in this green rush but many more questions about this needs to be asked at the next public meeting in October.

The bottom line is, and the big head scratcher, how are earth are lethal tobacco and alcohol legal and accepted with 450,000 deaths per year and all this fuss is made over marijuana. A substance without one death in 2,000 years.

23
CannaCare:

The state believes it needs to "purge" all the "recreational" weed users from the medical community. 502 + Holder's announcement gives the State all the ammo they need to start tightening a noose around collective garden grows and "off-brand" medical uses.

Let's face it: if you're not undergoing chemo or wheeling yourself through the front door, Washington State needs you to abandon your medical card and start paying taxes.

Expect Washington to perform a major bust on a large-scale MMJ operation (access point or grow) so the state attorney general can prove they're holding their end of Holder's bargain.

Expect KIRO or the Seattle Times to run a major week-long expose on some MMJ org that sells weed to high-schoolers.

The State hasn't given me a reason to give up my medical card. If they're only plan on growing enough weed to provide for 25% of the existing market, how can they keep up with the new demand? How can they bring prices down?

What tools do they have? Efficiency of scale, Law enforcement and tax incentives. Medicine isn't taxed.

The State wants taxes. How long until they dedicate revenue from recreational weed taxes specifically toward shrinking the MMJ market?
25
The reason medical pot busts went up during the Obama administration is that the number of dispensaries exploded. These new dispensaries were for the most part operating outside of state law, and were accordingly shut down. There are PLENTY of legit dispensaries that have been operating in plain sight for YEARS - untouched by state or federal law enforcement.
26
Let the Good Times Roll.
27
Our fate is in the hand's of uneducated, stupid stoner teen's...
Great.
28
Those who thought this was a fast way to making your illegal business legal are disappointed, I get that. So sorry. If you do not mind, we are going to carry on without you now. Good luck!
30
This thread is exactly why we need people like Allison Holcomb. We need clear minds, actually intelligent minds, to push this forward. If you could only read what you said and read it with a clear mind, you might see that you are high.
31
6. "And thus the cause of Freedom continues, as we in the West roll Freedom over the country, from the shores eastwards."

Can we please start to roll Freedom over the NSA and the IRS?
33
But can these new pot businesses get bank accounts from FDIC & FCUA insured banks and credit unions? Umm actually no - not at this point anyway. The cash flow will cause violence, if this is not addressed, SOON!
35
The way this is going to work, I believe, is that more and more states will begin to legalize recreational pot. I expect many of the 20 or so that have medical marijuana to go in that direction in the next 1 - 5 years.

As that constituency grows, so will the lobby and the industry within that lobby. The federal prohibition will weaken substantially over the next 5 years or so. As the federal prohibition weakens, the chance to increase tax revenues will lure more states into the mix.

For all the bitching and moaning going on here, the end to anti-pot laws is coming to an end. We can no longer afford to fight a war on drugs. The only Feds that are fighting this are the bureaucrats at the DEA, etc. who are committed to building their empires and rationalize the evils of pot in an effort to justify their positions.