The U.S. Attorney for Arizona wrote me a letter today about how the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and our rules interface with federal law. As you know, Arizona voters passed the Act last November and ADHS created a program to clearly carry out the voters’ wishes. While we’ve done what we can to set the stage for a medical marijuana program and not a recreation one, the letter points out that marijuana is still illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act– and that manufacturing, distributing, possessing or marketing marijuana is still an enforcement priority for the US Justice Department. The letter also says that previous memos were never meant to condone the medical use of marijuana (referring to the Ogden memo from October 2009) which recommended that federal law enforcement continue to prosecute significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, but that sick people following state laws are not a priority for prosecution. I blogged about that right after the election passed.
The bottom line take-home message in today’s letter is that federal enforcement priorities in Arizona will continue to focus on folks that manufacture, distribute, possess and market marijuana despite the passage of the AZ Medical Marijuana Act– and that folks that operate large cultivation facilities or dispensaries (including property owners, landlords, and financiers) will be at risk for federal prosecution and asset forfeiture even if they’re in compliance with Arizona law and the rules that we published a couple of weeks ago.
Well, well, well the Feds have weighed in and it’s clear that the dead enders over at DEA have decided to make the Medical Marijuana the stand in this 40 year epic failure of the WAR ON MARIJUANA. What ever happened to State’s rights and what the citizens do in the privacy of their own homes? Is not the People’s Initiative more powerful than the bureacrats in Washington that our out of touch (literally they do not have 1 single enforcement agent from the Justice Department in Tucson) and really are toothless.
There were over 800,000 arrests for marijuana possession in the United States last year. Only 1% of those arrests were by the feds and if you ask me the Constitition is very clear that WE THE PEOPLE have rights that the federal government can not tromp on or our Constitution is not worth the hemp paper it was written on.
I am amused that the letter did not mention the Federal Sentencing guidelines that carry a 5 year mandatory sentence for anyone convicted of growing over 99 plants regardless of their size or maturity. Your dispensary will be raided, your grow will be torn up all your assets will be collected and you will go to jail, do not pass go and have a nice 5 years sitting in the federal prison system.
Just remember your lawyers helping you with the dispensaries no nothing about marijuana and because you think this is easy money you can just open dispensaries in Scottsdale and watch the money rolling in. I hope Mr. Humble next shares the IRS stance towards marijuana and ask Harborside in Oakland, California how they feel now that they’ve been under investigation for over a year with the IRS seeking to question every single business write-off which is not allowed under our tax laws.
The only way you can run a dispensary in Arizona is to stay under 99 plants and not charge $400 and up for an ounce because you’re now a drug dealer in the eyes of the feds.
Well stated. Here in CA, although the forerunner in the Medical Marijuana movement since 1995, and although we have worked out (through extensive litigation) some of the discrepancies which other states have been able to learn from, we still do not have it right. Our state legislature (several years after the people’s initiative passed) drafted laws in an attempt to clarify our Compassionate Use Act. The MMPA by the legislature begins with its stated intention,” in order to facilitate the safe, affordable access to medical marijuana to qualified patients, and in order to create uniformity between the counties of the state….” has never been fulfilled or even complied with by local governments. People across the country hald a misconception that there are dispensaries on every corner – “More pot shops than Starbucks!” In most counties in CA nothing could be further from the truth. Here in the biggest agricultural area of our country, local politicians have stated, “I know its the state law… but darn it I just don’t like it! And, we will not have it here!” Qualified Patients are called potheads and told if they are really in pain, they should just “take advantage of the many pharmaceuticals available, like Oxycontin.” Because of the way our original initiative was written we are still litigating every right which was supposed to be afforded to the medical marijuana patient. It has over-burdened the courts (every conservative city and county seems to be involved in repetitive litigation) and the only ones who “win” are the lawyers. I sincerely hope that all of the states which followed California on this compassionate trail gets it better than we did.
Does the author of this letter, U.S. Attorney David Burke, want patients to continue to buy their medicine from street dealers, who may get it from Mexico (drug cartels)? The quality won’t be accountable for patients with fragile immune systems in that case. Alternatively, if there are no dispensaries, patients will be permitted to grow their own marijuana all over the state, which is the unsung message of this letter and exactly what cities have been investing so much time in imposing sanctions to avoid.
My sympathies go out to those small Arizona business owners who have already invested plenty of money, resources, and time away from their families into a business they approved the presence of at the 2010 ballot box, but now have to fear to operate.
This letter’s repercussions are going to be very bad for our state. Foresight and sensibility, while highly valued, are absent from this resolution.
Why is the federal government doing this? The states don’t want marijuana illegal, the American people don’t want marijuana illegal, and if the federal government doesn’t answer to the states and the American people then WHO does it answer to??!
The individuals WE voted into Congress are there to *represent* us, NOT rule us. The people of the United States have made it clear that we don’t want marijuana illegal any longer. It is now up to our **representatives** in Congress to change the law!
Purchasing alcohol from a supermarket and consuming it at home doesn’t create any victims, and purchasing marijuana from a supermarket and consuming it at home doesn’t create any victims either!
We need legal adult marijuana sales in supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies for exactly the same reason that we need legal alcohol and tobacco sales – to keep unscrupulous black-market criminals out of our neighborhoods and away from our children. Marijuana should be legal to sell to adults everywhere that alcohol and tobacco are sold.
Jan Brewer scratched her head and noted that the Feds pick and choose which of their laws they will enforce. Follow the money: enforcing illegal immigration costs a lot of money and brings in none, whereas enforcement of marijuana laws is a very profitable endeavor for the Feds, e.g. property seizure, lobbying from industrial corporations, and the prison industry. This is the same old song and dance. It sure would be great to see state governor’s join together to defend the will of their constituents.
They don’t listen to man in charge. President Obama. He has said and wrote that the federal gov. won’t bother the people and states that follow the rules.
While some seem to think this is only pertaining to dispensaries, I feel that this is a direct threat to individuals who also possess, and manufaturer cannabis. I have heard several times today that the federal government will not go after patients, but we all know that the recent past disproves that theory. The federal government has come out in recent weeks in several other medical marijuana states, and are renewing their efforts to harass, destroy and prosecute patients, and caregivers for legally growing. The determination of a “large grow” is both subjective and ambiguous. There is a mandatory sentencing for growing over 99 plants, but this does not mean you will not receive that same sentence for growing 72 plants as our law allows for caregivers with 5 patients. I hope that US Attorney Burke upholds his letter that he will not prosecute seriously ill patients, but what of their caregivers? During the forum last week Tom Salow said that their was indications that the medical marijuana issue would come up again on the ballot in 2012, and . I welcome this as we were lulled into a sense of security that Prop 203 would pass, so many did not vote. The medical cannabis community needs to stand strong together, and gear up for the fight in 2012. Times are changing and we are the change.
I would like to point out that if the DEA does decide to raid legal medical facilities in Arizona, it is the duty of the County Sheriff to stop these raids. The county sheriff is the supreme authority in the land even above the feds. The county sheriff’s duty is to enforce state law and protect it’s citizens from illegal activity, which includes illegal raids by the DEA. Just a thought.
I’d be interested to hear what Joe Arpaio and Clarence Dupnik’s thoughts are on this.
None of the raids you have read about happened with the federal government alone. There has always been local law enforcement involved. Not only will local authorities help, they will attend to see the fruits of their labor.
R Camp, that is my point. I have seen video of California Raids where local law enforcement stood there and let the DEA raid shops. The local law enforcement is supposed to uphold state law, and if state law says that medical marijuana dispensiaries are legal, then they are supposed to protect these businesses the same as protecting a citizen, which is their job.
Michelle mentioned this at the top… What ever happened to State’s rights?
From the letter: “…”The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona will continue to vigorously prosecute individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing, distribution and marketing activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law.” Does this include AZDHS and Mr. Humble? They have posted more advertisements, info and guidance to the production, distribution and use of medical marijuana than any source I have read. I would think they would be protected by the State Law that they are acting under. However, after reading this letter and assuming it is correct….I am concerned they are not. Their activities would seem to violate federal law and the state law means nothing.
Since there is now confusion on the part of ADHS on what is a “large” cultivation I’ll spell it out for everyone regardless of what your interest is in medical marijuana. The feds who are the ones that instigate and raid and harrass will consider you breaking the rules if you grow over 99 plants. A plant again in the eyes of the feds can be 1″ tall or 10 feet tall it doesn’t matter to them. So only grow up to 99 plants which for patients/caregivers is never going to be a problem since the maximum amount a plants a caregiver with 5 patients as well as himself can grow are 72 plants.
Dispensaries if and when they get up and running (which is doubtful right now for the next year) have to follow this 99 plant rule because the Feds could care less that cities and towns are zoning some huge cultivation sites (just do a Google search on names removed by editor) which obviously plan on growing 1,000s of plants for reselling to other dispensaries. If you grow over 99 plants you will be facing a possible raid through the front door and the IRS coming to visit you at the back door. Don’t believe me just Google again (name removed by editor) and it’s not a pretty story.
So the only solution is the Grow Your Own Model and patients and caregivers can share their product and work cooperatively to provide safe access to the medicine that the people of Arizona voted in as the law of the land on November 2, 2010 with Proposition 203.
Just a question or two: The letter states, “at this time” DEA isn’t focusing on legitimate use. Does this mean that at any time they decide to change their stance, they can use the registration documents to find and systematically detain/charge all users, dispensaries, and growers? What stops them from using our own registries in Arizona from doing that?
The letter was written by the US Attorney’s Office of Arizona, please contact them with questions or concerns.
The home cultivation model may win out in the end, for two reasons:
First, if dispensaries are going to be raided every time their plant numbers exceed 99, they are going to be forced to contract out to smaller growers to safely supply them with medicine.
Second, if the DEA does end up finding dispensary raids in Arizona to be lucrative enough to make a habit of it, dispensaries will be opening and closing regularly, opening the door for patients and their caregivers to cultivate.
No matter how you slice it, the current AZMMP model is broken primarily because the 25-mile halo that is meant to line the pockets of a select few is proving to be a Red Flag to the DEA. We have a bumpy road ahead of us.
This is quite a disappointment to us here at (name removed by editor). We had hoped that when the new administration made it’s announcement in October 2009 that we would see an end to the useless and fruitless prosecution of the medical marijuana industry.
This will probably be the end of the rising number of compassion clubs in the valley… Hopefully AZDHS has a high cultivation approval rate for when the feds start raiding dispensaries.
I can’t find any doctors, naturopaths, etc. who will recommend medical marijuana in the Show Low, Springerville, Snowflake Holbrook area. Does anyone know of any –as my son can’t travel to Phoenix?
I am sorry but we do not reccomend Dr.’s..you may want to look in your local newspaper, or try googling Naturopaths, Homeopaths, Osteopaths and MD.s in your area.
Hello there. I hope that you are well & in good spirits. I know that you are trying to do the right thing in helping people to reduce their pain. It’s sad that the feds don’t understand the suffering of chronic pain. They do like to tell us what weed we can & can’t smoke.
Thanks for that Marijuana has been used as a source of medicine for centuries – a common medicinal plant for the ancients. Even as technology became part of how we live, it was considered a viable treatment for many ailments. However, in 1923, the Canadian government banned marijuana. Although marijuana cigarettes were seized in 1932, nine years after the law passed, it took fourteen years for the first charge for marijuana possession to be laid against an individual.
All the Best