Obama Explains Medical Marijuana Crackdown -- Sort Of

Categories: Marijuana
obamarollingstone.jpg
But not state-legal weed
Mystery accompanied the federal Justice Department's crackdown on California's state-legal medical marijuana industry since Oct. 7, when prosecutors formally declared their war on weed. Who was behind the feds deciding it was time to shut down hundreds of California dispensaries -- rogue prosecutors? Drug warriors in the Attorney General's office? Eric Holder himself, despite multiple public statements that pot wasn't a priority?

The Northern District of California made a practice of not commenting to the media as it shut down five San Francisco dispensaries and moved in February to shut down four more -- all of which, at least for now, are still open.

But at last, somebody in Washington finally took responsibility for the crackdown. The buck, it turns out, stops with President Barack Obama, who explained the government's actions in an interview with Rolling Stone.

Obama's rationale: He never made a promise to ignore federal law, and even if he did, he can't, because Congress, not the White House, makes the laws. That turbid statement was dismissed by medical cannabis advocates as "underwhelming, inaccurate," and ignoring "medical marijuana as a public health issue."

Read More On How Local Democrats Respond To Obama:

Well before the federal crackdown became an international news story, SF Weekly was among the first publications in the country to point out that Obama's record on marijuana did not match up to his rhetoric.

Both on the campaign trail and shortly after taking office, Obama promised not to use federal enforcement to circumvent state medical marijuana law -- which is exactly what he's done. No dispensaries shut down, and most medical marijuana operators currently serving time in federal prison -- including former dispensary operator Scott Feil, master gardener Eddy Lepp, or Dr. Mollie Fry and her husband Dale Schafer -- have been convicted of or even accused of supplying for-profit illegal drug rings.

Yet one can still buy Humboldt outdoor in Hawaii and Skywalker OG Kush in New York City -- actions with no defense in state or federal law, and which can be taken without too much trouble, either -- so what the fuck?

Obama got a bit defensive -- and blamed drug dealers.

"I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana --  and the reason is, because it's against federal law," the president said. "The only tension that's come up -- and this gets hyped up a lot -- is a murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users.

"I can't ask the Justice Department to say, 'Ignore completely a federal law that's on the books.' What I can say is, 'Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.' As a consequence, there haven't been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes," Obama said.

The problem is that Feil -- incarcerated at a privately run federal prison in Taft -- was sentenced to prison for just that. Americans for Safe Access, a medical cannabs users' advocacy group, called bullshit on Obama's explanation.

"President Obama failed to come clean on reasons for the breadth and intensity of the attacks, which significantly escalated since he took office," wrote Kris Hermes, an ASA spokesman. "U.S. Attorneys have made little reference to targeting medical marijuana businesses because they're allegedly selling to non-patients. The prevailing excuse has been simply that dispensaries are federally illegal or that they are too close to schools and other so-called "sensitive uses" (according to federal standards, not to local or state standards)."

Obama's been repeatedly called the worst-ever president on medical marijuana. That may be true, though keep in mind no DEA raids have occurred in the Bay Area under Obama.

Also note that on aggregate, Obama's also had the most-ever medical marijuana to deal with -- an industry explosion he helped foment when he encouraged folks to get into the game by suggesting, as a candidate and now president, that it was at last time for the feds to lay off.

Follow us on Twitter at @SFWeekly and @TheSnitchSF

My Voice Nation Help
84 comments
bongs for sale
bongs for sale

They should have legalized marijuana long ago and started collecting tax money from it, instead of fighting it.

Steven Cooley
Steven Cooley

If one prominent attorney is right about the legal ramifications of the District of Columbia's marijuana law -- specifically, that it was approved by the U.S. Congress -- then it could be a game-changer nationwide.D.C.'s medical marijuana law was the first time that the United States Congress had ever given its explicit assent to any state or local law that permits the medicinal use of marijuana -- and, according to a California attorney who specializes in health care compliance, that is enormously significant under the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.In 2009, noting that it was "allowing" the voters of Washington, D.C., to vote on and implement that city's Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment law, Congress approved medicinal cannabis in the federal District of Columbia, over which it has all governmental power.On December 2, 2011, in anticipation of the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers, the District's mayor released final rules for the program. Last month, the D.C. Council compromised on medical marijuana cultivation centers, a compromise agreement that limited the number of centers in each ward to six. The District of Columbia's medical marijuana program is now being implemented."States with medical marijuana programs should now be free from federal interference since Congress has allowed local control," attorney Matthew Pappas at Pappas Law Group, based in Long Beach, California, told Toke of the Town Monday afternoon. "Congress being the legislative branch of the federal sovereign and the only body that can change these laws has now done so by recognizing the voting rights of Washington, D.C., citizens."Likewise, Californians and citizens of the 15 other states which have legalized medicinal cannabis are equally protected and have the same voting rights in respect to medical marijuana, according to Pappas Law Group. "Congress has turned over the area of medical marijuana to state and local governments," said Pappas, speaking for the disabled plaintiffs in the California case Marla James v. the Cities of Costa Mesa and Lake Forest. "Through Congress's duty to equally protect everyone under the law, all patients in states with medical marijuana laws operating in full compliance with those laws should not, from now forward, be subject to previous long standing federal marijuana prohibitions.""They're not going to be subject to the CSA [Controlled Substances Act]," Pappas confirmed to Toke of the Town in a telephone conversation. "In our country, when one group of voters has been given the right to vote on something, other voters, likewise, have the right to do so -- in this case, approve medical marijuana.""In states where voters have not voted on it, for instance Nebraska, of course it's not going to be legal there," Pappas told us. "But patients and medical marijuana centers operating in full compliance with state laws -- through equal protection -- are not going to be subject to federal prohibition.""Our traction in the courts is very strong on this issue," Pappas told us. "I'm very positive that at some point we're going to have a decision from the courts."Pappas, who earned his J.D. from Western State University and was admitted to practice law in the State of California in 1994, is a member of the federal bars for the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the Central District of California, the Northern District of California, and the Southern District of California.Focused in the area of health care regulatory compliance, he developed compliance systems for large health care providers including University Medical Center Southern Nevada, UNR Medical School, Pharmerica, Children's Hospital of Ohio, Banner Health System, and Molina Healthcare.

Steven Cooley
Steven Cooley

If one prominent attorney is right about the legal ramifications of the District of Columbia's marijuana law -- specifically, that it was approved by the U.S. Congress -- then it could be a game-changer nationwide.D.C.'s medical marijuana law was the first time that the United States Congress had ever given its explicit assent to any state or local law that permits the medicinal use of marijuana -- and, according to a California attorney who specializes in health care compliance, that is enormously significant under the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.In 2009, noting that it was "allowing" the voters of Washington, D.C., to vote on and implement that city's Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment law, Congress approved medicinal cannabis in the federal District of Columbia, over which it has all governmental power.On December 2, 2011, in anticipation of the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers, the District's mayor released final rules for the program. Last month, the D.C. Council compromised on medical marijuana cultivation centers, a compromise agreement that limited the number of centers in each ward to six. The District of Columbia's medical marijuana program is now being implemented."States with medical marijuana programs should now be free from federal interference since Congress has allowed local control," attorney Matthew Pappas at Pappas Law Group, based in Long Beach, California, told Toke of the Town Monday afternoon. "Congress being the legislative branch of the federal sovereign and the only body that can change these laws has now done so by recognizing the voting rights of Washington, D.C., citizens."Likewise, Californians and citizens of the 15 other states which have legalized medicinal cannabis are equally protected and have the same voting rights in respect to medical marijuana, according to Pappas Law Group. "Congress has turned over the area of medical marijuana to state and local governments," said Pappas, speaking for the disabled plaintiffs in the California case Marla James v. the Cities of Costa Mesa and Lake Forest. "Through Congress's duty to equally protect everyone under the law, all patients in states with medical marijuana laws operating in full compliance with those laws should not, from now forward, be subject to previous long standing federal marijuana prohibitions.""They're not going to be subject to the CSA [Controlled Substances Act]," Pappas confirmed to Toke of the Town in a telephone conversation. "In our country, when one group of voters has been given the right to vote on something, other voters, likewise, have the right to do so -- in this case, approve medical marijuana.""In states where voters have not voted on it, for instance Nebraska, of course it's not going to be legal there," Pappas told us. "But patients and medical marijuana centers operating in full compliance with state laws -- through equal protection -- are not going to be subject to federal prohibition.""Our traction in the courts is very strong on this issue," Pappas told us. "I'm very positive that at some point we're going to have a decision from the courts."Pappas, who earned his J.D. from Western State University and was admitted to practice law in the State of California in 1994, is a member of the federal bars for the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the Central District of California, the Northern District of California, and the Southern District of California.Focused in the area of health care regulatory compliance, he developed compliance systems for large health care providers including University Medical Center Southern Nevada, UNR Medical School, Pharmerica, Children's Hospital of Ohio, Banner Health System, and Molina Healthcare.

Gmail
Gmail

Obama has been such a disappointment. Good from far, far from good.

Geovs20
Geovs20

More people have died from tylenol, how proud these people must feel. LOL In my state you can go to jail for having marijuana in your system but, but morphine is ok, so we have all the pill junkies drive us to the dispencerys!!!!!! What a joke Obama you fail epically, like I said me and many others voted for you based on this alone GL in 12 buddy, Marijuana is going to become illeagal again and people will resort back to columbia cartels and gangs how proud you must feel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Geovs20
Geovs20

Im sorry but I came out and voted for the first time in my LIFE, based on the way ran his campaign? There should be a law aganst saying one thing and doing another as a president, now we all sit in fear waiting for the next arrest, we are all Anne Frank, and the real problem is we can vote for this guy, or Romney, who is totally aganst Medical Marijauna, LOL, this is a disgrace, and I'am so disapointed I cannot even discribe my emotions, just flat out sad......

Jeffrey Von Stetten
Jeffrey Von Stetten

I'd like to have at least one good president. So far that hasn't happened.

JohnnyB
JohnnyB

Obama is in serious danger of losing much of his base unless he can reign in the mad dog Holder. I've never voted republican and don't plan to this time, but I'd rather vote for a third party candidate than support someone as two faced as Obama has become.

Jholdswo
Jholdswo

Just another African Lion.... or did I get that backwards.....

Pompus
Pompus

Every Obama promise comes with an expiration date.  Every.  Single.  One.  

Old Pard
Old Pard

 aint that the truth. that was a good one.

LibertarianGirl
LibertarianGirl

And Obama has gone back on his word.  We are not amused or surprised.  He also said he would not sign NDAA, but he did that anyway... on New Year's Eve... on a Saturday...and it got buried in the weekend news and those not following the news away on the long holiday weekend.  Typical PR trick to hide bad news, do it over the long holiday weekend.

And this is yet just another reason why I'll be voting for Gary Johnson.  I don't smoke or use marijuana, but I support your right to use it responsibly.  Gary Johnson, as governor of New Mexico, pardoned non-violent criminal convicted of use/possession.

Also, Johnson got 21 ACLU torches and Obama only 16.  Though with Obama's stance on CISPA that he's going to veto it because it doesn't go far enough, he just may lose another torch.

Muzzy Lu
Muzzy Lu

How about just $2.99 for great e-book on medical marijuana: MARIJUANA - Guide to Buying, Growing, Harvesting, and Making Medical Marijuana Oil and Delicious Candies to Treat Pain and Ailments by Mary Bendis, Second Edition. This book has great recipes for easy marijuana oil, delicious Cannabis Chocolates, and tasty Dragon Teeth Mints. 

Dr. MMJ
Dr. MMJ

Now what?  I can't vote for Obama while he refuses to do what is right by the medical marijuana community, but I can't vote for the Republicans who want to eliminate all medical marijuana in favor of big pharma!  They leave NO options but to vote for third-party candidates.  And what's next for the medical community when they attack the landowners - delivery services only? 

Muzzy Lu
Muzzy Lu

Obama should lay off medical marijuana, but he won't. How about just $2.99 for great e-book on medical marijuana: MARIJUANA - Guide to Buying, Growing, Harvesting, and Making Medical Marijuana Oil and Delicious Candies to Treat Pain and Ailments by Mary Bendis, Second Edition. This book has great recipes for easy marijuana oil, delicious Cannabis Chocolates, and tasty Dragon Teeth Mints. 

Jskeezee4u2c
Jskeezee4u2c

There was a federal raid in the Bay Area just This month, at Oaksterdam University, right?

Alfredo 'Al' Nava
Alfredo 'Al' Nava like.author.displayName 1 Like

As terrible as Mr. Romney could be as President of the U.S., President Obama needs to lose as a teaching moment to his unfettered attack upon our Civil Liberties. I'd rather deal with 4 years of Romney as the known enemy rather than Obama as a back-stabbing pseudo-friend. I'm voting third Party because my ethics are more important! 

Mr. Obama must lose in order for him and his Big Pharma industry & War on Drugs industry donors to be taught a painful lesson. Mr. Obama has let Banksters & Wall Street criminals get away while arresting and/ or harassing Marijuana users. We can't let Obama's treachery go on any more! Vote third Party!Vote Independent, and put an end to the (corruption of the) Republican Party & Democratic Party! 

John
John

He won't shutdown Guantanomo but he's shutting pot dispensaries.  I don't have adequate curse words for this.

Bob Kennedy
Bob Kennedy

Certainly this would not be a reason to choose or not choose a president.  Mitt Romney is not going to be making cannabis available through Romney I Don't Care

This would be a reason to constantly point out that American Politicians ... All Of Them ... are full of The Schitt Family when they talk about FREEDOM.  WE do not have freedom.  We haven't yet found a way to get freedom ... if we had it would be a march of millions more people. 

So .... why is it that some people want to die for this freedom?

PS   In Sonoma County you cannot have anyone smoke anything in or near your own personal residence ... and they're working on making plastic bags illegal ( except when use as a  contraceptive I hope)

vociferous
vociferous

The job of the executive branch is to enforce federal law.  Federal law makes the cultivation, sale, or use of marijuana without special permits illegal.  It is as simple as that.

Bad laws need to be changed, not ignored by those whose job it is to enforce them.  

Pompus
Pompus

 And bad, bad, very bad presidents need to be voted out of office. 

vociferous
vociferous

If the President fails to uphold the law, he can and should be impeached.  His job is not to make laws but to enforce them, even if he disagrees with them.

It is congress's job to make laws.

Besides, you really believe that voting Mitt Romney into office is going to lead to less rigorous enforcement of the federal ban on marijuana production and sales? 

Alfredo 'Al' Nava
Alfredo 'Al' Nava

You are correct, and it is our right as voters to vote out any President who upholds a corrupt law, like Mr. Obama has done. 

Diggars52
Diggars52

It really makes sense to prosecute marijuana offenders (medical or otherwise), but not Wall Street bankers. huh.

D.
D.

Obama's "My hands are tied because it's a Congressional law" logic for the marijuana crackdowns is a cop-out that is completely inconsistent with his position on other issues, specifically the Defense of Marriage Act. That law was passed by Congress but Obama has publicly instructed the DOJ not to defend it in court. This reporter should have called him out for this double-standard on the enforcement of federal laws.

Personally, I think that both DOMA and marijuana prohibition are abhorrent and should be abolished, but it's ridiculous for a president to use the "must enforce" excuse for one law and not another.

vociferous
vociferous

 I disagree.  The job of the President is to enforce laws, whether he agrees with them or not; however, I think ethically there is an exception to fundamentally unjust laws, of which the DoMA can be considered one, a law that denies citizens equal treatment under the law due to circumstances completely beyond their control.

By contrast, the way marijuana is regulated constitutes, in my opinion, a bad law, but not a fundamentally unjust one.  Presidents should not get to pick and choose which laws they enforce, except in the rare case that a law is fundamentally unjust.  The federal ban on marijuana is inconsistent with laws regulating tobacco and alcohol, but it is not fundamentally unjust like the DoMA is. 

Wyatt J. Larew
Wyatt J. Larew

 I can't ask the Justice Department to say, 'Ignore completely a federal law that's on the books.' What I can say is, 'Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage

Did he not do exactly that when he is out murdering American citizens without a trial. Then this man needs to turn himself in for murder!

Federale
Federale

What pot heads don't understand is that using marijuana for medical purposes (lol) is not being prosecuted, but the production and sale of marijuana is.  If you have a few plants for your own medical use, no worries mate.  But if you are selling it to anyone, you are fair game.  If only Obama would treat illegal aliens like that...

Contrary to the claims of SF Weekly, Scott Feil is in jail for selling, not giving away to patients, marijuana.  He made alot of money selling marijuana and pot heads just don't have the intellectual horsepower to understand that, for obviously understandable reasons.

So if you need your weed for "medicine," then grow a few plants yourself.  Sell it and you ass is Obama's.

Get the difference? 

MikeParent
MikeParent like.author.displayName 1 Like

@ Ronald Kirkish Please provide scientific citations for your claims.You must either work for the Dept of Propaganda or you're trolling. TIA"THE CHILDREN" If they really cared for the children they'd legalize and regulate marijuana. If they really wanted to keep any substance out of the hands of "The Children" they first must take control of distribution away from black market dealers. They haven't accomplished that in 40+ years at a taxpayers cost in the hundreds of billions. It's time to treat marijuana as we do alcohol. My 27 year old daughter still gets carded when she buys alcohol, yet your 13 year old can buy anything the black market dealer has for a price whether it be money or "something else". Prohibitionists, your path to hell may be paved with good intentions, but hell is the final destination, none the less. FACT: Your kids have a overwhelmingly better chance dying at the hands of someone enforcing marijuana laws than they do from ingesting it, which, BTW, is zero!. LEAP member, NYPD, ret.

larry
larry

hello. simple math on large grows to count how many medicinal plants are ordered from legitimate dispensaries. the government hates competition, and the big pharmacy does not want to lose revenue by substituting medical cannabis in place of all the damaging pills they sell. the Prez is paid for. raise enough money to bribe him the other way.   

oiwfjoewjfiewojfeifjwe
oiwfjoewjfiewojfeifjwe

People, the man has to consider his legacy. If the first Black president legalizes weed, the jokes will NEVER STOP.  

Axl
Axl

He chooses to ignore federal law concerning immigration but trods heavily on states whose citizens have legalized marijuana for medical treatment.Consistency, it seems, is not the Emperor's long suit.

lookitupyourself
lookitupyourself

More illegals have been deported under Obama than Bush. Fact.

Leland
Leland

Hypocrite.    But then under the Repubs, the issue would be not only illegal but a sin.   Venial, but still a sin. 

Truth Betold
Truth Betold

Leland: Based on your comments, it appears that your personal religious belief system is somehow determined by the political party that holds the office of President in the US? Does the majority party in the House and Senate affect it too? Local government must really have your religious beliefs tied in knots eh?

P.S. Tea Parties are mostly libertarian, and libertarians believe the federal government shouldn't have their nose in anything not specifically authorized under the constitution, including drug laws. 

Mojoewood
Mojoewood

Good for the President!. As an Oakland resident who lives a block from Oaksterdam , I don't want people with " medical marijuana prescriptions" lined up in my neghborhood so they can get their weed.

Mondo
Mondo

Mojoewood, are you just being a troll or what? How can you live a block from Oaksterdam and actually COMPLAIN about it being in the neighborhood? I don't know how long you've been here, but I've only been here five years, and in just these short five years I've seen this neighborhood really turn around for the better. You realize Oaksterdam is a big part of what makes your neighborhood worth living in these days, right?

And what's with the shady quotations on "medical marijuana prescriptions"? Don't make me laugh, from my window I used to watch plenty of old ladies mixed in going in and out of the patient ID center and Bulldog, when it was open. Mojoewood hates old ladies!! Ageist bastard! Haha

Geovs20
Geovs20

brainwashed idiots! I dont know how you people can sleep at night, what a lieing disgrace you are!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are they lined up now? please fool, then chances are they will never line up because god forbid standing in a line is so dangerous!!!!!!!!!!!DO YOU EVEN LISTEN TO YOURSELVES?????????????????????????????????FOOOOOOOOLS!!!!!!!!!

PatientPatient
PatientPatient

Awesome. Now you can focus your efforts on the methamphetamine (brand name Desoxyn) addicts lined up outside Walgreens, right? And the Vicodin addicts lined up outside CVS too.

Or is your issue just with non-toxic, non-addictive drugs?

HairBrainman
HairBrainman

The problem is that several people have mixed aggressive capitalism with marijuana, creating an industry that has made them rich.  This flys in the face of federal law and can't go unnoticed.The point is that pot is a beneficial herb and never should have been outlawed in the first place.Use this war on drugs industry to rid us of meth, if it's not too "dangerous" for these pigs.

Lexcellent yeah
Lexcellent yeah

Yes, the alphabet soup drugs are by and large terrible. Legal weed would help us shut down meth labs and the like. No need to associate with scary people. So WHO needs to keep this all in business?. Follow the money. Follow the lies.

Guest
Guest

In My Opinion: Why are some people, who consider themselves adult, afraid of a plant?  Should we really be listening to large parts of our community who are thumbsuckers and experience extreme anxiety when mentioning this plant?  Crippled with hysteria, these people never question why they are so afraid.  I believe these people are the lowest form of human experience, and we should not bow and submit to the lowest among us who want to control every person on the planet, body and mind at every day and every hour.  We have suffered too long already.  Our freedoms are gone, we can not live in a world that God created for us.  What world exists beyond this locked ward, keys held by the weakest among us?  Perhaps this isn't reality at all.  Perhaps it is a satanic nightmare created by the history of the most violent, most afraid, most ignorant, most thoughtless, most brutal people in our society winning their way to make sure their kind say in power, forever.  Does heaven on earth, and peace on earth, and wrongs righted, and lives lived, wait for us if we break out of this locked ward?

Spliflyfe
Spliflyfe

"Encouraged folks to get in the game?" Not really, dude who needs a copy editor.

Iza Koon
Iza Koon

HALF BREED SOCIALIST MONGREL!!!!!

YOU WHITE SCUM that VOTE for this MONGREL SHOULD BE DRAWN and QUARTERED !!!!!

VOTE FOR A MONKEY---YOU GET CHAOS and LIES !!!!

FLUKE LIBERAL DOG EATING RACE MIXERS!!!!!

BudTrader.com
BudTrader.com

Ask Richard Lee and others at Oaksterdam if the following statement is true?!

"Obama's been repeatedly called the worst-ever president on medical marijuana. That may be true, though keep in mind no DEA raids have occurred in the Bay Area under Obama. "

Mondo
Mondo

Seriously! I couldn't believe I read that. I went back up to the date of the article thinking I might have stumbled into last month's news. 

Care to edit your statement, Mr. Roberts? O_o

Jay
Jay

No shit.. Maybe the clueless columnist was saying the DEA/IRS/US Marshals don't count as a DEA Raid.

QuestionItAll
QuestionItAll

This empty-suited douche-bag is such a lying sack of shit! He's signed a laundry list of unconstitutional executive orders, all without Congressional approval! He trumps Congress at every turn when it suits his narcissistic ass! Good riddance in November!

PatientPatient
PatientPatient

Only to be replaced by someone much, much worse.

This is the reality of the situation: vote for your amazingly disappointing friend OR your worst ideological enemy (someone you disagree with on almost every level, someone who sees COMPLETE marijuana prohibition as a religious, moral obligation, someone who once famously ignored the inconvenient questions of a wheelchair-bound medical marijuana patient).

QuestionItAll
QuestionItAll

If we continue with this sham two party system, all we will ever get are empty suited puppets - who carry out marching orders for their masters - period! And yes it does keep getting worse and it has absolutely nothing to do with slick pitchman sitting in the Oval Office! This wishful deluded thinking that if only... blah, blah, blah.

El Beezy
El Beezy

You realize Bush has been out of office for almost four years now, right?

QuestionItAll
QuestionItAll

And it's quite obvious you've been asleep the whole time!

Geovs20
Geovs20

still suffering obviously!!!!!

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...