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Medical marijuana cultivation no different than other pot grows, says U.S. Attorneys Office

sugarloaf mountain marijuana seizure july 2009 cropped.jpg
A 2009 weed bust.
U.S. Attorney John Walsh's letter objecting to elements of HB 1043, a bill meant to clean up parts of last year's medical marijuana rules, has alarmed activists and confused legislators like Senator Pat Steadman, the measure's co-sponsor. Could dispensary raids like those taking place in Spokane this week be in Colorado's future? Comments from the U.S. Attorneys Office don't eliminate that possibility.

Walsh wrote at the request of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who included it in a packet of information provided to legislators that contained letters from U.S. Attorneys in several states, including Washington and California -- the latter being the controversial Melinda Haag memo threatening federal crackdowns on medical marijuana centers regardless of state law. See the package below.

john walsh photo.jpg
John Walsh.
In his missive, Walsh reiterated that marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law and referred to the prosecution of medical marijuana grower Chris Bartkowicz, who was sentenced to five years in prison after his attorney was told he couldn't use Colorado's MMJ laws in his defense.

He then attacked an element of the bill that had been stripped out by the Colorado House; it would "license a marijuana investment fund or funds under which both Colorado and out-of-state investors would invest in commercial marijuana operations." In addition, he criticized a provision still in the text allowing infused-product facilities containing up to 500 plants, "with the possibility of licensing even larger facilities, with no stated number limit, with a state-granted waiver based upon broad factors such as 'business need.'" Walsh emphasized that the feds would consider civil and criminal actions regardless of whether the fund or the facilities had been legislatively blessed by the State of Colorado.

Why did Walsh target these two measures? According to spokesman Jeff Dorschner, "The U.S. Attorney has spent a substantial amount of time in framing the argument in his letter to the Attorney General, and as far as he is concerned, the letter speaks for itself. But what he continues to emphasize is that the Department of Justice has no interest in going after an individual medical marijuana user or an individual caregiver, especially as originally defined by the constitutional amendment" -- Amendment 20, passed by Colorado voters in 2000.

Note that Dorschner does not exclude dispensaries or other retail operations from possible Justice Department scrutiny.

Thumbnail image for john suthers facebook portrait.JPG
John Suthers.
"Our focus has been and will continue to be large scale drug-trafficking organizations and substantial marijuana grows -- and thus, substantial marijuana production," he continues.

Does the U.S. Attorney differentiate between big medical marijuana grows -- the type okayed under Colorado law -- and those presumably focusing on the illegal or underground market? Dorschner replies, "In the eye of the federal government, there's only one type of marijuana. And marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. So the short answer would be 'no.'"

Dorschner says Walsh was troubled by the medical-marijuana fund "in large part because of the interstate nexus -- the fact that money would be crossing state lines."

How about the infused-product facilities with 500 plants, and possibly more? In our interview with Steadman linked above, he wondered if the objection meant the feds were fine with 500 plants, but 501 was too many. But that's an incorrect assumption, notes Dorschner, who declines to say how many plants would be too many, in Walsh's view.

"We analyze these matters on a case-by-case basis, and therefore don't feel it's appropriate to provide a specific number," he allows. "There are a number of factors we analyze, including the aggravating factors in the Ogden memo" -- the 2009 guideline by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden that originally implied the Justice Department would steer clear of medical marijuana businesses following local laws in states that had approved MMJ. "But again, a reading of the U.S. Attorney's letter says that large-scale drug trafficking operations will be the focus of this office."

Could a more precise definition of "large-scale" come as a result of a future raid on a medical-marijuana grow? Time will tell...

Page down to read the package of information presented to the Colorado General Assembly by Attorney General John Suthers. The Walsh letter is the second item, followed by the Haag memo and more.


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44 comments
clonedoc
clonedoc

War is over, if you want it.....Ron Paul 2012

clonedoc
clonedoc

War is over, if you want itRon Paul 2012

Paul Adams
Paul Adams

"Resolved, that the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that by compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: That to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party....each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress." - Thomas Jefferson, in a memo about states rights.

How far we have fallen. How far will we have to fall before we band together against the feds and demand our rights back? Not just the cannabis community, everybody. The US has the highest rate of incarcerated persons of any country in the world. When will it end?

HOW WILL IT END? Let me show you:

"Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the *consent of the governed*, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, *it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it*..." "...But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their *right*, it is their *duty*, to *throw off such Government*, and to provide new Guards for their future security." - For those victims of the public school system, that is the preamble to the Declaration of Independence

jrrainbow
jrrainbow

His eyes are lookin a 'lil red....

Ray
Ray

Just let everyone grow

Ddkrikorian
Ddkrikorian

lol like the DEA has money right now. Lay low dont grow 500 plants and youll do fine. Just dont do it commercially.

Kenshift
Kenshift

Lets' investigate the financial records of the DEA, wonder how much money they are getting from the CIA, Big Pharma and Drug Cartels to keep this safer, natural, God made plant illegal? Science and the Medical fields have run plenty of tests and studies that show the positive health effects of this plant, it kills cancer cells, can't let that out to the public.

SoSad
SoSad

So my question is does the Denver Sheriff's Dept or maybe the DPD defend my Denver based, tax paying, licensed, frequented by thousands of customers business? Or do all those fees I paid and taxes I submitted go to putting me in jail? I am so confused.

RQUEZADA
RQUEZADA

Marijuana has a schedule 1 class, only because they claim it doesn't have any medical value. However they prescribe marinol at pharmacies across the nation. Obviously it does, because they wouldn't have it on a pharmacies shelf would they? If a pharmacy did sell a class 1 drug, then they too would be in violation of federal drug laws. Hmmmmmmm? RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!

Toosmart4TheirOwngood
Toosmart4TheirOwngood

What should scare the shit out of everyone in Colorado is that there is no need to conduct large scale raids in Colorado as the DEA has done in other states, a federal prosecutor would simply need to mail subpoenas to every dispensary owner in the state and order them to show up for a hearing. The nice part? It will be easy since our legislators were kind enough to develop a centralized data base to allow the DEA easy access to the personal information of every individual involved in the industry. Oops?

The Spleen
The Spleen

John Suthers masturbates in his office to the thought of sick patients getting arrested by the DEA. Poor guy, its the only thing that can get him off these days....

malcolmkyle
malcolmkyle

Prohibitionists often express the belief that the resulting, suffering, mayhem and corruption that their policy engenders is in no way connected to the basic and erroneous mechanism being used, but simply that they haven't been granted sufficient governmental powers (the removal of even more basic individual rights and freedoms) to do their work properly.

It's quite possible, that many of the early Prohibitionists did not intend to kill hundreds of thousands worldwide, or put 1 in 32 Americans under supervision of the correctional system with their ill-thought-out-actions. Nevertheless, it's now reasonably safe to claim, that our Latter-Day Sadomoralist Prison-for-Profit Prohibitionists don't care. They don't care that, historically, the prohibition of any mind altering substance has never succeeded. They don't care that America has the highest percentage of it's citizens incarcerated of any country in the history of the planet. They don't care about spawning far worse conditions than those they claim to be alleviating. These despotic imbeciles are actually quite happy to create as much mayhem as possible. After all, it's what fills their prisons and gets them elected.

Guest
Guest

Prosecutorial misconduct.....sounds like this may fall under "intimidation" and "political repression" (persecution of an individual or group for political reasons, particularly for the purpose of restricting or preventing their ability to take part in the political life of society)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...

Guest
Guest

Sounds like walsh and suthers are competing for the westword's schmuck award. - Seriously though, it is sad that a select few individuals are manipulating the law and abusing their power to bully a medical program because of their personal biases. If the state/feds want to prosecute people violating state laws, I get that....but the idea of the federal government ignoring state laws is unamerican. :( Feds arresting medical marijuana participants who are following state laws....sounds like a crime against humanity to me.....somebody should send them a memo.

State set up
State set up

So the Colorado General Assembly is who really brought the feds to Colorado via hb1284. Forcing centers to have massive grows, extorting their money in licensing fee's (leaving them with what to defend themselves when the hammer falls), collecting all their powers of attorney and assets and making them 'sign off'' on their constitutional rights and then saying they will give it to the DEA if they ask......nice set up, General Assembly! Isn't this entrapment? It sure SMELLS!

Patient
Patient

MMC applicants your being screwed----You need your constitutional RIGHTS BACK NOW!

Help preserve the mmj program in CO and donate to cannabislawsuits.com. It's written and ready to be filed but is not free. Do the right thing for everyone................contribute today!

cannabislawsuits.com

PCRLP
PCRLP

"But what he continues to emphasize is that the Department of Justice has no interest in going after an individual medical marijuana user or an individual caregiver.......

especially as originally defined by the constitutional amendment" -- Amendment 20, passed by Colorado voters in 2000."

The law of the land is what stands. Caregivers and patients need to have clarity in their constitution. Patients and caregivers were permitted to sell mmj Cannabislawsuits.com

Anybody ready to contribute so we can file the lawsuit that needs to be filed to clarify what Coloradans constitutional rights are? Caregivers? Felons? Want your constitutional rights back?

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

Either these guys are bored or they have some awesome new memo writing software they can't get enough of.

Nothing is changing on the front lines of the Front Range.

Paul Adams
Paul Adams

Maybe Colorado will be the state that has the balls to post Some National Guardsmen (a well regulated militia) at every dispensary to explicitly prohibit federal intervention in the matter. After all, I know of no documentation the explicitly provides the federal government the right to tell us what drugs we can consume, except the rules they made for themselves, which, if not explicitly given that right by the state, are null and void.

guest
guest

marinol is schedule 3

malcolmkyle
malcolmkyle

When we eventually manage to put the horrors of this toxic moronothon behind us, we'll need to engage in some very deep and honest soul-searching as to what we want to be as a nation. Many of our freedoms have been severely circumscribed or lost altogether, our economy has been trashed and our international reputation for being "free and fair" has been dragged through a putrid sewer by vicious narrow-minded drug warrior zealots who are ignorant of abstract concepts such as truth, justice and decency. We'll need to make sure that such a catastrophe is never ever repeated. This may mean that public hearings or tribunals will be held where those who have been the instigators and cheerleaders of this abomination will have to answer for their serious crimes against our once prosperous and proud nation.

Guest
Guest

Many of us called that........jeff sweetin knew this time was coming....

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

How much is it to file? How close are you?

william buchanan
william buchanan

i i thin its bullshit that they dont wanna legalize marijuaua here and plus they that girl doin time wit thirty one grams of treeswith its kind bullshit how society lock all tha druggies away while they should go tha real sex offender and bank robbers that who they should be goin for

Guest
Guest

Wow, federal raids in Michigan, Washington, California and Montana recently, and you think everything is OK? What part of Walsh's letter did you read that said that the feds were going to leave Colorado alone? Walsh's letter was the warning to everyone that has applied to be an MMC that the feds consider them criminals. All MMC applicants and associated persons are under criminal investigation right now, as part of the MMC application process. MMC applicants gave their power of attorney to the DOR to do these criminal background investigations. The DOR is doing 4,000 criminal background checks right now. No MMC licenses have been granted in Colorado. Yet in order to apply to be an MMC, you had to revoke your constitutional right to be a caregiver. Now Walsh's office says that they are only leaving people alone if they are compliant as patients or caregivers UNDER THE CONSTITUTION. And MMC applicants have NO constitutional protection. And you feel safe?

I guarantee you, that anyone who has experienced a federal raid doesn't consider the feds as just bored memo writers.

Why do you think what is happening all over the country will not happen here?

Douglas Stiff
Douglas Stiff

The time has come to put politicians in place for the purpose of eliminating law. We need leaders who will fight against law making. I realize that we may not be able to live on the constitution as it stands, but damn, we can come close.

reality
reality

yes, crandle, but when we predicted it we were all called 'fear mongers'.

I'd prefer 'reality mongers'......prior proper planning prevents poor performance.

Imagine if people had listened and given 1/10th of what the DoR got in extortion fee's towards their own protection?? We could have challenged every individual issue statewide in the courts if necessary. Hell, 1 million would have been more than enough and we would be able to make a state challenge at the feds..........oh, if only.....Until everyone is free, no one is free.

PCRLP
PCRLP

Filing costs is not the problem--that is nothing in the realm of thingse. The real costs are in attorneys fee's for preparing expert testimony (most expensive part) and cost of attorneys in court. Over $20,000 has gone into the arguments and is finished. (If you know of an attorney who can handle this constitutional rights case as a kick down, send them our way--we have contacted over 100 and no one's moved forward, just EMPTY promises).

What do WE need? (when I say we, I mean EVERYONE in this state who hopes to ever participate in Colorado's constitutional right to mmj.)

If every MMC (750?) gave $100--we would have plenty.If every caregiver (2,500?) gave $25--we would have plenty.If every registered patient gave 50 cents--we would have plenty.

Final costs depends on how we file- and how good our expert witnesses have been prepared---a class action costs more (50-75k), but if it were granted, everyone statewide would benefit from an injunction.

Or if it's filed with named plaintiffs, less hassle, quicker--but only named plaintiffs could get the injunction.

The Dor and the CDPHE have stated in public hearings that until a judge tells them that what they are doing to patients, caregivers and doctors in unconstitutional, they will continue on their path. Now the feds are saying the will back off the patients and caregivers abiding by A20.

We need to establish that for 9 1/2 years we had rights that cannot be stomped out by the general assembly. The parts of hb1284 for MMC's can be left in place--if that's what MMC's want---but caregivers and patients rights cannot be negatively impacted by hb1284, nor doctors by sb109.

joe mama
joe mama

yes, PCRLP, just how close are you and how much more do you need?

Executive Pothead
Executive Pothead

Right Wing Conservative Propagandist! You (Guest, Patient, Initials promoting a sue campaign) are all the same person and trying to exploit the people. Someone should look at you for racketeering.

MIMM
MIMM

Jakie Brown, I can assure, that here in MI, one of the newest to legalize MM, these raids have gone down on dispensaries that were acting within the law and guide lines, and that even caregivers are being followed and shook down. This isn't fox news tactic crap. This is happening. Big Brother Government is getting its big fist in the face of State Government and is actually going after people.

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

I'm not a representative of, nor am I employed by, The Releaf Center.Slinging mud and personal attacks, where do you draw the line?Apparently at giving your real name and organization, "Guest".

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong take, Guest. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Much appreciated.

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

Yes, because I don't buy into the fear mongering from either side.

Seems like that's all your camp has to offer lately, "Guest". Negativity and fear. Hate seeing our side tapping the Fox News playbook, but what can you do?

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

Thank you for this post MIMM--when anyone comments about the problems with the feds out here, everyone thinks they are immune. This isn't fear mongering when it's reality.

Guess
Guess

@Guest: Are you part of the CTI / Legalization team that has Timothy Tipton on board?

If so, what do say about the results from a quick google search ("timothy tipton" mmj scam) on this person??? Do you deny that dozens of people feel greatly harmed by this person? Do others in the CTI/ Legalization 2012 effort act in the same manner as Timmy? After all, birds of a feather flock together...

Oo
Oo

Please dont. Ever. Again.

Guest
Guest

Wasn't the Releaf Center visited by Rick Sallinger of CBS 4 News in Denver in regard to allegations that you were involved in racketeering? If this is not enough to make you nervous, you must have nerves of steel.http://denver.cbslocal.com/201...

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

Dorschner said earlier this month that they're using the clear and unambiguous standard and that local memos don't supersede Ogden.

I can't comment on the circumstances of those other raids because I'm not sure if they were in compliance with state law. Neither can you.

No one is suggesting we're immune. Just that being SO afraid of it probably isn't warranted.

But I get it, I'm either with you or with them and team "prohibition". Straight out of Fox News' playbook. Well played, "reality".

reality
reality

Jake--tune into reality. It's not fear mongering to the dispensaries in Spokane, CA, Monatana, its REALITY. If you think CO is immune to the federal attack on mmj, your not paying attention. Or your on TEAM prohibition? and want people unprepared for an experience that will ruin their lives.

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