Ideologically Diverse Advocates Echo Call to End DEA Raids on State-Sanctioned Medical Marijuana Providers

For Immediate Release

Medical Marijuana Project
Contact: 

Steve Fox: 202-905-2042 or sfox@mpp.org; or
Mike Meno: 202-905-2030 or mmeno@mpp.org

Ideologically Diverse Advocates Echo Call to End DEA Raids on State-Sanctioned Medical Marijuana Providers

Tenth Amendment Center, Firedoglake Publisher Join Drug Policy Organizations’ Condemnation of Recent Raids

WASHINGTON - Two ideologically diverse advocates today echoed an earlier call by a coalition of drug-policy reform groups by condemning a series of recent raids by the Drug Enforcement Administration on medical marijuana collectives that were operating legally under state law. The Tenth Amendment Center, a group that advocates on behalf of states' rights, and Jane Hamsher, the publisher of Firedoglake.com, called on the DEA to respect duly adopted state medical marijuana laws and immediately end these raids.

"The federal government is only authorized to exercise those powers that ‘We the People' delegated to it in the Constitution. Included among the myriad of constitutional violations from D.C. are federal laws that ban the use of cannabis," said Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center. "It is especially egregious when these laws are used to justify raids in states where the use and distribution of cannabis is expressly allowed by law. How many hundreds of thousands of people are going to be arrested before We the People say ‘enough is enough'? The time to end this unconstitutional, immoral, and costly federal war on people is now."

Under the leadership of acting-administrator Michele Leonhart, the DEA has staged medical marijuana raids in apparent disregard of Attorney General Eric Holder's directive to respect state medical marijuana laws. Most recently, DEA agents flouted a pioneering Mendocino County (CA) ordinance to regulate medical marijuana cultivation by raiding the very first grower to register with the sheriff. Joy Greenfield, 69, had paid more than $1,000 for a permit to cultivate 99 plants in a collective garden that had been inspected and approved by the local sheriff.

Informed that Ms. Greenfield had the support of the sheriff, the DEA agent in charge responded by saying, "I don't care what the sheriff says." The DEA's conduct is inconsistent with an October 2009 Department of Justice memo directing officials not to prosecute individuals "whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana."

"At least 73% of Americans support medical marijuana, according to recent polls, and its use has been made legal in 14 states plus the District of Columbia," said Jane Hamsher, publisher of progressive political blog and advocacy group Firedoglake.com. "Attorney General Eric Holder was crystal clear last year when he directed officials within his department not to waste federal resources interfering with state medical marijuana laws. Yet throughout the tenure of President Obama's administration, the DEA's raids have continued in a manner wholly inconsistent with the spirit of that directive. What part of ‘not a priority' does Michele Leonhart not understand?"

"We are pleased that opposition to the DEA's over-aggressive behavior is spreading across the political spectrum," said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. "The agency is defiantly sending agents on missions to destroy the private property of citizens who are in full compliance with state medical marijuana laws. In doing so, the DEA is intentionally undermining the will of state voters and lawmakers who have acted to ensure that medical marijuana patients are no longer treated as criminals. Such acts are not just an insult to advocates of medical marijuana - but also demonstrate a desire to flaunt the power of the federal government in a manner that denies states the right to pass and carry out laws in the best interest of its own citizens."

Based in large part on these recent raids, a coalition of drug policy organizations-including MPP, NORML, California NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy-last week called on President Obama to withdraw the nomination of Ms. Leonhart to be the permanent head of the DEA.

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