City of Oakland Files Suit Against Federal Government Over Harborside Health Center
The city of Oakland, CA filed a complaint in United States District Court Wednesday in an attempt to stop the feds from shutting down Harborside Health Center - the state's largest medical marijuana dispensary.
The dispensary is legal by Oakland and state standards, but the feds are nonetheless trying to seize the building that houses it. The city seeks to stop the attacks from the feds against the second-largest retailer in the city.
"The federal government has acted beyond its authority by initiating the forfeiture action outside of the statute of limitations," said Cedric Chao, the attorney representing Oakland in this case. "Moreover, the government has indicated for many years by its words and actions that so long as dispensaries and medical patients acted consistently with state law, the dispensaries would be allowed to operate. Oakland has reasonably relied on these assurances, and the government should be prohibited from disrupting Oakland's medical cannabis program."
"This lawsuit is about protecting the rights of legitimate medical patients," City Attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement released today. "I am deeply dismayed that the federal government would seek to deny these rights and deprive thousands of seriously ill Californians of access to safe, affordable and effective medicine."
Many are dismayed at the inexplicable attacks from the federal government against the medical supply of tens of thousands of patients in states like California, Colorado, Montana and Washington. And the fact that the attacks are coming from a “progressive” Democrat administration makes the whole thing even more bizarre.
But politics is ruled by money, and there is a lot of money in marijuana prohibition and there are many powerful people who want to see prohibition continue. And so it does.
Historic Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Seeks to Relax Federal Policy
Later this month, Michael Krawitz, who suffered a car accident while serving in the U.S. air force which left him permanently disabled and in chronic pain, and other advocates for medical marijuana will go before the U.S. court of appeal in Washington D.C. as part of a historic lawsuit that they hope will challenge the federal government's classification of marijuana.
Michael is a legal medical marijuana patient, and he has found that it helps him greatly with his pain in conjunction with other treatments. But when the department of veteran affairs found out about his cannabis prescription, they asked him to undergo a drug test, which he refused. They have now denied him further treatments.
Advocates behind the lawsuit seek to get marijuana reclassified under The Federal Controlled Substances Act, allowing federal agencies to recognize the medical value of cannabis.
"Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court," said Joe Elford, chief counsel with Americans for Safe Access. "This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana's medical efficacy."
Oral arguments begin on October 16th.
"At the heart of this issue of the scheduling of marijuana and the federal government's refusal to look at the research that's out there every day is a bigger gap growing between patients and doctors and the federal government,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of ASA.
"The definition of cannabis as schedule I has caused my fellow patients to be imprisoned, denied work, housing, right to own a firearm, a place on a transplant list, and of greatest concern to me, is the latest casualty of the drug war, my VA doctor,” Krawitz said.
A rescheduling of cannabis would also go a long way toward taking the teeth out of the federal medical marijuana crackdown currently underway.
Medical Marijuana Banned From All Section 8 Housing in Maine
The Maine State Housing Authority board voted 4-3 earlier this week to ban medical marijuana from Section 8 housing in the state. This means medical marijuana patients in the Section 8 program are going to have to choose one or the other.
"We took a very firm stand," said Bruce Poliquin, who serves as the Maine State Treasurer and a member of the Maine Housing Authority's board of directors. "There will be no growing of marijuana in these apartments. No cultivating of the substance. And we restricted the smoking of the substance in those apartments."
A firm stand? Against sick people who would rather use marijuana than some deadly and addictive prescription drug? That’s some stand.
"We want to make sure that we respect everybody who needs medical attention and are legally using medicinal marijuana for treatment of their ailments," Poliquin said. "At the same time we have roughly 3200 of these Section 8 apartments around the state of Maine. There are probably 5000 individuals that live in those 32 apartments, including children. We have to make sure those apartment buildings and those apartments are safe for everybody who lives in the buildings."
But State Representative Deb Sanderson, a Chelsea Republican, disagrees with Poliquin. Sanderson says there are simply no facts to back up the notion that medical marijuana breeds unsavory activity. "Though I understand Treasurer Poliquin's concern, there is no evidence that allowing patients to access medical marijuana as directed by their physician has increased crime in any way in Maine, nor has it caused a safety concern," Sanderson said. However, Sanderson argues, there is mounting evidence that the alternative medication that these patients will be forced to use does cause crime rates to not only rise, but skyrocket. "If these patients are forced to abandon using a natural form of medication and transition to pharmaceuticals, ie narcotic pain relievers, we do have evidence of a rising problem with long term pain management and addiction to opioids. Almost weekly, another break-in or pharmacy robbery is reported."
The Success of The War on Drugs
We talk a lot about the failure of the War on Drugs, but it’s easy to forget that a policy doesn’t stay a policy for long unless someone is profiting from it. The drug war is a failure in terms of its stated goals, but it is very much a success for a certain segment of society.
Private prison companies, law enforcement officials, politicians and pharmaceutical companies all profit from prohibition, and they do so legally. Then you have all the dealers and gang members making money on the other end, and you have the non-corrupt and non-criminal elements of society squeezed in the middle.
Prohibition is just a policy, it is not the enemy of free people. Those who profit from prohibition are the enemy, and they must be defeated politically before this dangerous and soul-crushing policy can be eliminated.
It won’t be easy, because few people ever give up a constant flow of money without a fight. And they will use that money to protect their flow of profits. It’s an uphill battle, to say the least, but nothing less than freedom itself awaits us at the top of the hill.
Legal Michigan Medical Marijuana Growers Face Years in Federal Prison
Four medical marijuana patients and caregivers will be sentenced federal courts in Michigan this week, highlighting the human cost of the federal government’s stance toward state medical marijuana laws. The sentencing hearings come less than a week after another Montana medical marijuana provider, Chris Williams, was similarly denied a defense and found guilty at trial. In August, Montana medical marijuana provider Richard Flor, who was 68, died in custody after being sentenced to 5 years in prison despite a lack of evidence that he was in violation of any state laws.
Two medical marijuana caregivers from Monroe County, Michigan, Gerald Lee Duval Jr., 52, and his son, Jeremy Duval, 30, were raided by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in 2011 and charged with felony cultivation, maintaining a place to cultivate marijuana, and conspiracy to distribute. In April, the Duvals were convicted at trial, the expected result of federal laws that prohibit any medical defense or reference to state law in front of juries.
"The Duvals' case is another tragedy from President Obama's war on medical marijuana," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy group. "This type of enforcement is completely discretionary, unnecessary and far from the public health approach that medical marijuana patients deserve."
With all the things officials in the federal government need to worry about, it is inexplicable that they would waste so many resources on medical marijuana caregivers and patients.
Two other medical marijuana caregivers are due to be sentenced this week as well, John Marcinkewciz and Shelley Waldron, were originally charged under state law with cultivation and conspiracy to cultivate, but prosecutors soon turned their cases over to the federal Justice Department, where the three had no chance of defending themselves against federal law. Marcinkewciz, Waldron and Montague all ended up taking plea bargains in May.
After all, what chance do caregivers have against the feds, especially when they are not allowed to even mention state medical marijuana laws in their defense?
Veterans in Colorado form Pro-Marijuana Legalization Group
After their petition to add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Colorado was denied for a second time, veterans in the state have decided to take matters into their own hands.
At a news conference recently at the El Paso County Court House in Colorado Springs, veterans gathered to announce the formation of "Veterans for 64," a group in support of Colorado's Amendment 64 ballot measure which seeks to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
“As a combat veteran,” said Iraq War veteran Joe Hatcher, on whose behalf the PTSD petition was filed, “I served our country in Iraq, and I am painfully aware of the devastating impact PTSD has had on veterans and their families. These brave soldiers -- and the many non-soldiers who suffer from PTSD -- deserve legal and safe access to this substance that has been proven to be therapeutically effective in treating this condition. I hope Coloradans will join me in voting Yes on 64, and help veterans and others with PTSD get access to marijuana without fear of arrest and prosecution.”
"The state's failure to act is an effective denial of this compassionate petition," said Vietnam veteran Bob Wiley in a statement announcing the formation of Veterans for 64. "Our only option is to support Amendment 64, which will ensure that Coloradans 21 and older who suffer from PTSD will no longer be subject to arrest and prosecution for using marijuana."
In the end many medical marijuana patients will find that they will need legalization in order to be free to treat their ailments, no matter what they are. Everyone should have the option of cannabis instead of the addictive and deadly prescription drugs that Big Pharma pushes on us.
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