Gavin Newsom, SF Supes Blast Feds' War on Medical Marijuana

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Drug warrior in words only?
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom shared a Los Angeles stage on Thursday with GOP presidential candidate Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who wants to end marijuana prohibition and free all nonviolent marijuana offenders from jail.

While it's unlikely Newsom would sacrifice his political future for such an idea, the former San Francisco mayor was in good company as he offered up some strong words against the federal government's crackdown on California's 15-year-old medical marijuana laws at the Drug Policy Alliance's Drug Reform Conference.

But Newsom can provide more than a soundbite -- as a private California citizen, he has reason to join in the lawsuit Americans for Safe Access filed against the feds last week. Newsom can, as can Gov. Jerry Brown and every government entity from Sacramento down to San Francisco, which also put itself on record as opposing the federal crackdown this week.

So will they put their lawyers where their mouths are? Don't hold your breath.

ASA's suit alleges that when U.S. Attorney for Northern California Melinda Haag, named as chief defendant in the claim, sent letters threatening several Bay Area dispensaries with closure, she and the Justice Department were violating the 10th Amendment. The 10th Amendment, as most first-year law students will tell you, reserves powers to state and local governments that are not specifically granted to the Uncle Sam.

Local governments have successfully challenged federal power before: One landmark case is New York v. United States, in which the Supreme Court agreed with the state that a federal radioactive waste-control policy violated the 10th Amendment and exceeded the powers granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause.

And a California government has also sued the feds over medical marijuana: Santa Cruz joined in the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana's suit when DEA agents raided the collective's garden in 2002. The case was dismissed in 2010, but since then, federal activity has been virtually nonexistent in banana slug land.

ASA chief counsel Joe Elford would welcome with open briefcase the addition of big names like "Newsom" or "San Francisco" to his suit. "This state's medical marijuana laws are under attack by the federal government," he said Thursday. "It would be extremely beneficial for state and local officials to step up to the plate and help ward off this attack."

So is the loquacious Newsom good for more than lip service? Continuing a trend that began when his boss took office, Newsom spokesman Francisco Castillo did not respond to a request for comment. One of these days, Francisco, one of these days.

Any decision for San Francisco to sue rests with City Attorney Dennis Herrera. A spokesman for Herrera, who is running for mayor in the election Tuesday, likewise did not immediately respond to SF Weekly.

Keep in mind that the Board of Equalization collects a 9 percent sales tax every time a California medical marijuana dispensary makes a sale. In other words, that's our money -- and our roads, our schools, our you-name-it -- the feds are fucking with.

"These funds benefit all citizens," observed San Francisco attorney Kenneth Wine (including, for example, Haag herself). "State and local officials should absolutely join in on this lawsuit.... You'd think that they, too, are tired of this intimidation by the federal government, and that they, too have an obligation to stand up for the rights of their constituents."

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Farouete
Farouete

Chris: Thank you for your reports. But can you please tell us why this sudden turn around at Obama Admin? In upcoming election year no less. Attempted suicide? What, he hasn't lost enugh of his base already? Is California being singled out?  Why?

We can clearly see from past refusals that the U.S. A. G and the Whitehorse does not have to enforce all law so this is clearly a discretionary assault. Exactly what is provoking it? Where  is the underbelly?

It appears the feds are selecting which ones to take down. Are they not duty bound to state why?. Specifically? If there is clear criminal activity in excess of our state laws I might understand but that should be left to local law enforcement.  So whats the REAL story here and why are not all the politicians who a supported the clubs not making a big brouhaha? And why has no formidble offense been launched?  In other words, whats REALLY going on?

Ray
Ray

Instead of collaborating with the Feds, all California authorities should protect the Rights of California citizens, as per their Oath-of-Office. By forcing aggressive acts on Americans, the separated federal government viciously attacks Americans, who are abiding by theRule-of-Law, instead of protecting their Rights and Freedom. Today, federal leaders do not teach Americans how to convey the fundamental Principles of Freedom anywhere in America. We all can clearly see there is no national curriculum in America to establish the Principles of Freedom in the hearts and minds of the American people. Americans not taught how to convey the Principles of Freedom. That's third-world government action. We get what we accept. To properly correct a wrongful effect, one must first correct its cause.

Tom Rankin
Tom Rankin

The Governor should tell the Sheriffs to enforce California law. Arrest and prosecute any Federal Official who violates the Tenth Amendment. No need to go to court. Just do it.

Sonofagavin
Sonofagavin

Come on, already. Basing anti-fed actions on the ongoing value of collecting tax money is absurd. There is a bigger fish that is frying. Illegal activity camouflaged as medical need.Please stop pretending.

Tim O'Connor
Tim O'Connor

The only real reason marijuana is against the law is that many years ago narrow minded  biggots did not like the fact that Mexicans were relaxing with a joint and banned such behavior.And then Nixon had it out for the hippies so he took the fun in their lives away.And now the system has many employees to keep working fighting "the problem".Grow up smell the flowers and do the right thing-make it legal.It is a bunch of bull calling it dangerous.Legalizing it will save lives,take the proffit out of it for the cartels and put many unemployed Americans back to work.Talk about pretending geez!

A
A

no

bodybyjonathan
bodybyjonathan

I will be voting for Governor Gary Johnson for president! End the wars, balance the budget, equal rights for LGBT and legalize marijuana! This guy is exactly who America needs in The White House! The People's President

Malcolm Kyle
Malcolm Kyle

An appeal to Prohibitionists:

Most of us are aware by now that individuals who use illegal drugs are going to get high, no matter what. So why do you not prefer they acquire them in a store that checks ID and pays taxes? Gifting the market in narcotics to criminal cartels, ruthless terrorists and corrupt law enforcement officials is seriously compromising our future. If you even remotely believe that people will one day quit using any of these 'at present illegal' drugs, then you are exhibiting a degree of naivety parallel only with those poor wretches who voluntarily drank the poisoned Kool-Aid in Jonestown.

Even if you cannot stand the thought of people using drugs, there is absolutely nothing you or I can do to stop them. We have spent 40 years and over a trillion dollars on this dangerous farce. Practically everybody is now aware that Prohibition will not suddenly and miraculously start showing different results. So why do you wish to continue? Is it that you actually think you have something to lose If we start basing drug policy on science, logic and historical fact instead of on empty rhetoric, hate and lies? 

Maybe you're a cop, a prison guard or a politician who's scared of losing employment, overtime-pay, kick-backs or those regular bribes. But what good will any of that do you once our society has followed Mexico over the dystopian abyss of dismembered bodies and marauding thugs brandishing gold-plated AK-47s & vats of acid?  - Prohibition prevents Regulation. You can chose to help us stop this abomination now!

Protect our Children - Legalize, Regulate & Tax!

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