Feds Threaten State Dispensaries Nationwide

For immediate release, March 17, 2011
Feds Threaten State Dispensaries Nationwide
Read the Department of Justice’s “Haag Memo” here:
For more information, contact the:
Cannabis Therapy Institute
In a little-publicized memo, the federal government has indicated that the
gloves are off with regards to medical marijuana dispensaries, “regardless
of state laws.” Previous memos had indicated a loosening of federal
prosecutions of medical marijuana, however the new memo states very clearly
that the feds consider all dispensaries illegal under federal law and that
their prosecution is a “core priority” of the feds.
The “Haag Memo” was written on Feb. 1, 2011 from United States Attorney
Melinda Haag (Northern District of California) to John A. Russo, Esq.,
Oakland City Attorney, in response to an Oakland City Council request for
guidance regarding medical marijuana and federal law. The memo was written
with consultation and approval from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The “Haag Memo” clarifies the “Ogden Memo”, which was written by former
Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden on Oct. 19, 2009 for the Department
of Justice. The “Ogden Memo” seemed to indicate that the new Obama
administration would restrict federal prosecution of medical marijuana
providers in states that had medical marijuana laws. This was heralded by
many as giving them the green light to pursue medical marijuana activities,
as long as they were in compliance with state law.
The “Haag Memo” clears up that misconception with some very unambiguous
statements. The memo says clearly that the feds will not look the other way
on medical marijuana. The “Haag Memo” states very clearly that the feds
will continue to investigate, arrest and prosecute medical marijuana
dispensaries in every state “regardless of state laws.”
In addition, the memo calls prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries a
“core priority” for the feds.
According to the memo, medical marijuana commercial activity is still
considered by the Department of Justice to be “a violation of federal law
regardless of state laws permitting such activities.”
The memo may be the cause of the recent increase in federal raids at
medical marijuana dispensaries. Only 4 days after the memo was issued, the
DEA raided 4 dispensaries in California  Just this week, the DEA raided
more dispensaries in California and Montana. They arrested dozens of
people, and seized the assets and bank accounts of several dispensaries.
“Maybe this will wake people up who think that it can’t happen here,” says
Kathleen Chippi of the Colorado-based Patient and Caregiver Rights
Litigation Project (cannabislawsuits.com), who is trying to raise money to
file lawsuits to uphold Colorado’s Constitutional right to cannabis
medicine. Many legal observers agree that Colorado has the best chance of
fighting the feds in court because Colorado is the only state whose medical
marijuana law is actually in the state Constitution.
However, last year the state of Colorado set up a regulatory scheme that
required caregivers to surrender their Constitutional rights. The state
created a new entity called a Medical Marijuana Center (MMC). However, in
order to apply to become an MMC, the applicants had to surrender their
Constitutional rights to be caregivers, leaving them with no Constitutional
MMC applicants also had to sign their power of attorney over to the state
Department of Revenue for extensive investigations of every aspect of their
lives, including family, spouses, children, and bank accounts. Over 700
people applied to become MMCs last July 1, 2010. The investigations on
these applicants are in full swing, and no licenses to applicants have yet
been granted.
“We will enforce the CSA vigorously against individuals and organizations
that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity
involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state
“Others who knowingly facilitate the actions of the licensees, includmg
property owners, landlords, and financiers should also know that their
conduct violates federal law.”
“As the Attorney General has repeatedly stated, the Department of Justice
remains fumly (sic) committed to enforcing the CSA in all states.”
“Haag Memo” (Feb. 1, 2011)
“Ogden Memo”: Oct. 19, 2009
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Cannabis Therapy Institute
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Phone: 877-420-4205
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