Medical marijuana: Does U.S. Attorney John Walsh's letter signal end of federal MMJ truce?

john walsh.JPG
John Walsh.
HB 1043, a bill sponsored by Representative Tom Massey and Senator Pat Steadman to clean up last year's medical marijuana regulations, seemed to be quietly moving toward passage -- but no more. A letter from U.S. Attorney John Walsh attacking aspects of the legislation call into question whether the federal government will continue its hands-off policy in regard to MMJ businesses following local law in states that have legalized them.

A 2009 memo from Deputy Attorney General David Ogden directed U.S. Attorneys not to target medical marijuana businesses in areas where they're legal, as long as they're following state law -- guidance that was blasted at the time by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, an outspoken MMJ opponent.

melinda haag.jpg
Melinda Haag.
But in 2010, Highlands Ranch medical marijuana grower Chris Bartkowicz was arrested and charged federally -- and after a judge ruled he couldn't use Colorado MMJ rules as a defense, he was sentenced to five years in prison.

More recently, MMJ advocates were alarmed by a letter from California-based U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag promising federal crackdowns on dispensaries regardless of local laws.

Last month, Jeff Dorschner, Walsh's spokesman, made it clear that Haag's letter didn't supersede the Ogden memo. But now, the situation is considerably more confusing.

According to Mike Saccone, spokesman for the Colorado Attorney General's Office, Suthers asked Walsh for an opinion about 1043. Walsh responded with a letter reiterating that marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. Then, after referencing both the Ogden memo and the prosecution of Bartkowicz, he attacked two separate provisions of the bill.

john suthers facebook portrait.JPG
John Suthers.
The first, which was stripped out by the Colorado House and is not currently in the legislation, would "license a marijuana investment fund or funds under which both Colorado and out-of-state investors would invest in commercial marijuana operations." Walsh wrote that "the Department would consider civil and criminal legal remedies regarding those who invest in the production of marijuana... even if the investment is made in a state-licensed fund of the kind proposed."

Walsh also lashed out against a still-viable provision for 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.'" Again, he emphasized that the feds would consider civil and criminal actions against those who set up such facilities.

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WARYOFBIGBROTHER
WARYOFBIGBROTHER

THE FEDS ARE RENEGGING!!!!!!!!!!!!

THE FEDS ARE RENEGGING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NickDanger007
NickDanger007

Investigate people such as Walsh. Go after them! Stop being nice about this. If the feds are going to intervene, look up everything you can find about them, personally. Make them feel some fear of public exposure. Trying to reason with them doesn't work at all.

Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle

President Obama lied to us just so he could collect some votes. Please do not vote for him again in 2012 unless he calls off the DEA and District Attorney thugs. Medical marijuana caregivers are peaceful americans who pay taxes and raise families the best they can, they are not "gun-toting gang banging street dealers" out to hurt people"

I'd also like to remind EVERYONE that the Federal Government has ZERO legal authority to come into Colorado (or any other state) and arrest anyone for being involved in the state legalized medical marijuana industry. The 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees sovereign state rights that BY LAW limits the federal government's ability to interfere with our state laws:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"

This means, unless the United States Government passes a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT OUTLAWING MARIJUANA, they cannot tell states what to do. I urge each of you to memorize this tidbit from our constitution and tell your friends and neighbors. Do not let the federal government tell Colorado what we can, and can't do. The voters of Colorado have spoken!

anonymouse
anonymouse

Is this really anything different than Suthers et al. warned the legislature a year ago about HB 1284? Might have well just changed the dates on the press releases.

Joseph, 303 Organics
Joseph, 303 Organics

what i'd like to know is would the 10 million plus that the state 'stole' from the medical marijuana licensing fees be considered ill gotten gains? will the feds come in and kick down colorado's door and seize all of it's assests? has anyone else thought of this? this has all become more and more painful to follow as each days passes. what the fuck is going on anymore? so much has changed in a very short period of time and really, none of it has been for the better. depending on which side you are on.

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

The state and the local licensing (which is unconstitutional) is also federally illegal and everyone involved with writing, passing or implementing, (includes taking fee's) these 'licenses' is guilty under RICO law.

But I'm sure the feds prefer hassling 'we the people' and the gov. employee's or elected officials will get off.

The 73 year war on cannabis is ALL about FEAR. When everyone is scared, they win.

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

Schedule I.—

(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.

(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision." [20]

No prescriptions may be written for Schedule I substances, and such substances are subject to production quotas by the DEA.

Under the DEA's interpretation of the CSA, a drug does not necessarily have to have the same abuse potential as heroin or cocaine to merit placement in Schedule I (in fact, cocaine is currently a Schedule II drug due to limited medical use):

When it comes to a drug that is currently listed in schedule I, if it is undisputed that such drug has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and it is further undisputed that the drug has at least some potential for abuse sufficient to warrant control under the CSA, the drug must remain in schedule I. In such circumstances, placement of the drug in schedules II through V would conflict with the CSA since such drug would not meet the criterion of "a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States." 21 USC 812(b).[21]

Sentences for first-time, non-violent offenders convicted of trafficking in Schedule I drugs can easily turn into de facto life sentences when multiple sales are prosecuted in one proceeding.[22] Sentences for violent offenders are much higher.

Drugs in this schedule include:

gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), which has been used as a general anaesthetic with minimal side-effects[citation needed] and controlled action but a limited safe dosage range. It was placed in Schedule I in March 2000 after widespread recreational use. Uniquely, this drug is also listed in Schedule III for limited uses, under the trademark Xyrem; 12-Methoxyibogamine (Ibogaine), which is being used successfully in curing opiate addiction (as well as alcoholism) treatment and psychotherapy in clinics in Mexico and Canada[citation needed]. Marijuana. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug, although controversy exists about its placement in Schedule I. There have been no reported cases of THC overdose. Main article: Removal of cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Heroin (Diacetylmorphine, morphine diacetate), which is used in some European countries as a potent pain reliever in terminal cancer patients, and as second option, after morphine. (It is about twice as potent, by weight, as morphine.) Other strong opiates and opioids used in many other countries, or even in the USA in previous decades for palliation of moderate to severe pain such as nicomorphine (Vilan), dextromoramide (Palfium), ketobemidone (Ketalgin), dihydromorphine (Paramorfan), piritramide (Dipidolor), diacetyldihydromorphine (Paralaudin), dipipanone (Wellconal), phenadoxone (Heptalgin) and many others. Weak opioids used for relief of moderate pain, diarrhea, and coughing such as benzylmorphine (Peronine), nicocodeine (Tusscodin), Dihydrocodeinone enol acetate, tilidine (Valoron), meptazinol (Meptid), propiram (Algeril), acetyldihydrocodeine and others. Pholcodine, a weak opioid cough suppressant with negligible abuse potential[citation needed] which is available over-the-counter in many other countries. MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, Ecstasy), which continues to be used medically, notably in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The medical community originally agreed upon placing it as a Schedule III substance, but the government denied this suggestion, despite two court rulings by the DEA's administrative law judge that placing MDMA in Schedule I was illegal. It was temporarily unscheduled after the first administrative hearing from December 22, 1987 - July 1, 1988.[23] Psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms; 5-MeO-DIPT (Foxy / Foxy Methoxy / 5-methoxy-N,N-diisopropyltryptamine) Lysergic acid diethylamide ("LSD" / "Acid"), formerly used in psychotherapy Peyote, a cactus growing in nature primarily in northeastern Mexico; one of the few plants specifically scheduled, with a narrow exception to its legal status for religious use by members of the Native American Church; Mescaline, the main psychoactive ingredients of the peyote, san pedro, achuma, and Peruvian torch cacti; Methaqualone (Quaalude, Sopor, Mandrax), a sedative that was previously used for similar purposes as barbiturates, until it was rescheduled;

Guest
Guest

It is time to get marijuana out of the schedule 1 drug list...this is what patients (and john suthers) should be fighting for. Marijuana has known medical uses and needs rescheduled....medical marijuana can't be supported at the federal level until this happens.

...colorado is supposed to make a rescheduling request in 8+ months anyway.....why not make the request NOW!?

------

"IN RECOGNITION OF THE POTENTIAL MEDICINAL VALUE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA, MAKE A REQUEST BY JANUARY 1, 2012, TO THE FEDERAL DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION TO CONSIDER RESCHEDULING, FOR PHARMACEUTICAL PURPOSES, MEDICAL MARIJUANA FROM A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE TO A SCHEDULE II CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE."

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

Schedule V.—oh look--cannabis is still safer and Gary Johnson (R) is right--REMOVE cannabis from the schedule!

(A) The drug or other substance a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV.

(B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV."[20]

No controlled substance in schedule V which is a drug may be distributed or dispensed other than for a medical purpose.[25]

Drugs in this schedule include:

Cough suppressants containing small amounts of codeine (e.g., promethazine+codeine); Preparations containing small amounts of opium or diphenoxylate (used to treat diarrhea); Pregabalin (Lyrica), an anticonvulsant and pain modulator. Pyrovalerone Some centrally-acting anti-diarrhoeals, such as diphenoxylate (Lomotil) when mixed with atropine to make it unpleasant for people to grind up, cook, and inject. Difenoxin with atropine (Motofen) has been moved to Schedule IV.

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

Schedule IV.—yes cannabis is still safer than all of these drugs too

(A) The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.

(B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III." [8]

Control measures are similar to Schedule III. Prescriptions for Schedule IV drugs may be refilled up to five times within a six month period.

Drugs in this schedule include:

Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Librium, Klonopin, Valium, Restoril Rohypnol, The benzodiazepine- Long-acting barbiturates such as phenobarbital;

Guest
Guest

Why don't you quote schedule 1 too where marijuana is currently listed.....

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

Schedule III.—this is steroids and Marinol

(A) The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II.

(B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence."

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

We need to do like Gary Johnson (R) NM Gov, now presidential candidate says--REMOVE it from schedule all together.

The whole point of the scheduling IS BASED ON SAFETY and addiction. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that cannabis is the safest therapeutic substance known to man. There are no direct safety issues with it's use. There is rarely any physical withdrawals. Cocaine is schedule 2.

Schedule 2 may sound good, but cannabis just doesn't qualify, based on science:

(A) The drug or other substances have a high potential for abuse(B) The drug or other substances have currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions(C) Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence."

and schedule 2 drugs can ONLY be dispensed in pharmacies with prescriptions, not doctors recommendations.

Guest
Guest

Removing marijuana from the federal list of scheduled drugs would be great ..... but in the meantime it's in schedule 1 ..... Chances of it going from schedule 1 to completely off the schedule is slim.

Guest
Guest

Anything is better than schedule 1....but the point is.....get marijuana rescheduled.

Patty Smith
Patty Smith

Kathleen- The conspiracy theory about the hidden corporate ties of Hearst and DuPont promoting prohibition has been talked about for years, but all that does is distract from the true agenda of marijuana prohibition. 

The truth is much simpler and much more ominous.  Prohibition and the 'War on Drugs' is about nothing more than political power for the agencies and administrators charged with enforcement of drug laws.  The DOJ has more power today than it ever has before, and it owes that to Prohibition.

After the end of alchohol prohibition the federal agencies which had been created and enlarged to enforce that law were in a position in which they were going to lose funding.  Henry Anslinger took political  advantage of public misinformation to get the U.S.Congress to enact a new prohibition on cannabis in 1932.  This was made even easier because of the yellow journalism and "Jim Crow law" attitudes prevalent at the time.

Cannabis prohibition was at it's start and has continued to be throughout it's history, nothing more than a way for the agencies charged with enforcement to continue to exist at the scale they operate.  Prohibition exists for the purpose of allowing the drug enforcement bureaucracy to grow and flourish.

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

Crandle--I'm just saying if we want to be HONEST with ourselves we don't tell parts of the FACTS and then settle for more f-up regulation than we need. We educate everyone to ALL the FACTS.

Cannabis should not be on the schedule.

It was put there to protect corp. interests in keeping the plant illegal so their competing industries would rule and the 'we the people' get thrown in jail. People are sitting in jail over LIES. This must be corrected. There is no sense in making a change that is nothing more than submitting to prohibition lies all over again.

Why can't the regulation and taxation of this plant be honest?

Cannabis is an herb. It should be regulated and taxed as such. (like all the other herbs that are more toxic than it). No more, no less.

Digiflux
Digiflux

vermin prohibitionists should be dragged into the streets for execution.

guest
guest

The FEDS have decided that unless you are on your death bed, you don't deserve medical marijuana. When is Attorney General John Suthers going to do his job and UPHOLD the Colorado Constitution?

guest
guest

Hey MMIG, Josh Stanley, Michael Elliot and the rest of you--are you still basing your elite 'industry group' on the Ogden memo?

The Spleen
The Spleen

John Suthers is a sphincter-faced douchebag. How did this clown beat Stan Garnett?

Sampson
Sampson

People have given money to this for over 5 months now. How can we get our money back? Please provide a way to refund the $.

PCRLP
PCRLP

We (Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project) have been trying to educate people to the FACTS that NOTHING aside from a declaratory judgement on our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS will resolve our state mmj program.

Once we have clarity on our constitutional rights, we NOW need to have Attorney General John Suthers clarify for the FEDS that we are the only state with a constitutional amendment and ask if they are challenging our constitution and if so, the state of Colorado has a 10th amendment issue with the feds that needs immediate address.

Your right, we have been TRYING to collect money for 5 months. If you donated, we have your name and amount donated on file. What is your name so I can verify how much you donated?

What I will verify now is that PCRLP has NOT collected 8.5 million dollars from MMC's who instead gave their money to fund their own data collecting and power of attorney releases by state officials that's been handed over to the feds for their future cherry picked prosecutions.

Guest
Guest

"We" wouldn't the honest wording here be "I"

Just Wondering
Just Wondering

That's not sarcasm, that's just asking questions about accountability. Sorry it's hit such a nerve for you.

^ That is sarcasm.

PCRLP
PCRLP

"How do I know that my money has gone to something other than something you burn in your bowls?"

You see the attorneys bills and the payments, which are way larger than anything any ONE person donated. But in order to see the attorney's bills, you would have to reveal your name so I could confirm what you donated.

From the sarcasm of your post, I'm sure you haven't donated and your just trying to start shit.

And then I ask myself WHY you would be trying to start shit with the only group in the state attempting to fight for patients and caregiver rights via a lawsuit challenging the unconstitutional hb1284 and sb109? What problem do you have with that? Whose team you on?

Just Wondering
Just Wondering

What kind of entity is the PCRLP? You're accepting donations, so how are they declared? Have you released a budget or an annual report? Are you a nonprofit? Are you accountable to your donors in any way? How do I know that my money has gone to something other than something you burn in your bowls?

Fight for your Rights
Fight for your Rights

What are you talking about? No one has asked for money back! Who are you and why are you spreading this disinformation? Maybe you are talking about some other lawsuit or lawyer? Please read the website to make sure you are talking about the right project.

Guest
Guest

Hey MASSEY, STEADMAN, ROMER and all you other waste of space legislators who have made it your full time job to tinker in MMJ and get your name in the newspaper everday, I HOPE THEY COME FOR YOU FIRST!

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

We are going to be fucked and if we don't fight back we deserve everything that is coming to us. Rights are never given to the people they must be fought for that's why it was called a struggle for human, civil, constitution rights. I would like to end with a quote from Rage Against the Machine, "We don't need a key we'll break in."

Citizen80919
Citizen80919

Start by RECALLING SUTHERS ! He needs to be supporting the will of the citizens of Colorado instead of the will of his personal bias!

I've had it with these assclowns. They want a fight? Fuck yeah!

The Grammar Nazi
The Grammar Nazi

Try some punctuation from time to time. eh? It will help your readers understand your message.

Oo
Oo

LOL you aren't a keynote speaker you posted a comment on a message board ... big difference.

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