Med. marijuana: Eric Holder okay with lawful MMCs, but do threats remain?

anthony holder testimony.jpg
Video below.
This week, Congressman Jared Polis quizzed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about the Department of Justice's approach to medical marijuana; see a video of the exchange below. For the most part, Holder suggested that MMJ businesses following state law are not Department of Justice priorities, despite recent crackdowns in California and elsewhere. Attorney Jessica Peck sees positives in his responses, but also areas of concern for the industry.

Peck, a lawyer and political strategist for Henley Public Affairs, is a fan of Polis's. "I've spoken with him, and I'm very impressed with how he talks with all the different stakeholders and works with everyone, including Republicans," she says. "I think he went into the committee hearing trying to get points from all perspectives, which is what a congressman should do."

Thumbnail image for jessica corry being interviewed at womens marijuana movement event photo by kim sidwell.jpg
Photo by Kim Sidwell
Jessica Peck.
Regarding Holder's responses to Polis's questions, she calls them "fascinating, because you have the White House now saying it stands behind its previous position as outlined in the Ogden memo" -- a 2009 document penned by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, which directed U.S. Attorneys not to target medical marijuana businesses in states where they're legal as long as they're following state law.

This summer, a memo by another deputy attorney general, James Cole "articulated a different position" than did the Ogden directive, Peck believes. In it, Cole wrote that while "it is likely not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regiment consistent with applicable state law, or their caregivers," he stressed that the term "caregiver" means "individuals providing care to individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses, not commercial operations cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana." In other words, a dispensary isn't a caregiver.

Given this apparent shift, Peck was cheered when Holder said the Ogden memo is still current. That shows "the White House is standing behind its original position," she feels, "and that's significant. And I also thought Holder's wording was interesting. It was clear he didn't know a lot about Colorado's system. But he did say it's the federal government's position that so long as people are acting in conformity with state law, the feds don't see it as a law enforcement priority. That's different from what was previously said, which called for 'unambiguous compliance.'

"I caution against reading too much into that" when it comes to the industry in Colorado, she continues. "But the federal government raids in California were based on a set of facts that are very different from what we see in Colorado. I get that question a lot: Why aren't there federal raids in Colorado? And I tell them we have a constitutionally protected system and extensive regulations, and we don't have the infighting between state agencies that a lot of states do. This is truly a trans-partisan system, with the most conservative Republicans coming together with the most liberal Democrats."

Still, there was one aspect of Holder's comments that worries Peck.

Page down to continue reading and see the Polis-Holder video.


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MMJ Timmy Top
MMJ Timmy Top

Everyone seems to be upset by this. Keep in mind, MMJ is still federally illegal. So not being able to sell as much to MMJ dispensaries and MMCs may suck, because that's how you've been making your living. Well, you can either join 'em, or try to beat them by becoming a legit MMJ caregiver. You should be happy the Feds are deciding, hey, Colorado is getting MMJ right, let's crack down on the states who aren't instead. 

And some MMCs and MMJ dispensaries have been going quality over quantity, but that's not completely true, some of them actually do care about getting quality MMJ to their patients.

Guest
Guest

i love how these people make ALL of us look so great. i mean fighting on the internets over mmj. yes it is illegal, yes that's dumb. yes this comment was posted by a moron. but seriously instead of typing next time just scream at your computer screen, you will make us all look better

Lakerfan2784
Lakerfan2784

You talkin to me? You must be talking to me cause there's nobody else here. Say hello to my little friend! the keyboard. Boom Bam!

Exploitationist
Exploitationist

Thats funny.  Awhile back when Mr.Holder got busted for fast and furious.  I posted that I suspected "someone" up high wrapped up in the medical marijuana business wanted Holder out!  Now Holder looks to be backing off a bit. 

Conspiracy or No Conspiracy? 

Lakerfan2784
Lakerfan2784

Dude what the f*** are you talking about? He watched some stupid beyond pointless movie with an actor who acts like Homer Simpson. Did you smoke a bowl of spice or something?

Monkey
Monkey

I like the newest title, "Eric Holder ok with lawful MMCs". I don't recall that in the video but ok. I wonder what you will change it to next?

Jessica Peck
Jessica Peck

As a point of information, Colorado's Amendment 20 was created under the state constitution, making our system unique from all other medical marijuana jurisdictions where rights were conferred only through executive action or statutory changes. I encourage those commenting to read an article I wrote about this topic for Colorado Lawyer. This distinction triggers important differences when it comes the federal justifications for continuing prohibition against the will of citizens living in medical marijuana states. While California plaintiffs, appearing previously before the U.S. Supreme Court, could not argue that federal prohibition violated state constitutional rights, Colorado caregivers (and patients of MMCs who lack viable access to their constitutionally-protected rights to obtain and use mmj) have a better shot at challenging federal intervention because the U.S. Constitution is designed to protect state constitutional rights, and thus equal protection, even whien such rights are not expressly articulated (or in some cases, contradict) federal statutes. Further, while the Colorado legislature has attempted, through HB 1284, to insist that MMC rights are not constitutionally protected--and are instead treated as a business licensee privilege--courts have not yet ruled on this issue. It is one making its way through multiple cases across the state, and will likely be settled by the Colorado Supreme Court.  In sum, this is not a well settled issue.You can view the article here: http://hobanandfeola.com/?page...

Donkey Hotay's Dog
Donkey Hotay's Dog

Courts have ruled on this issue. The Court of Appeals ruled that MMJ n Colo. is *not* a right in the Beinor case. So, it's not a well-settled issue, but I believe Beinor is case law in Colo. now, so it's something that courts can cite. This was one of the main reasons the Longmont dispensary owners lost their injunction against their local ban, because the judge ruled they had "no right" to their businesses.http://blogs.westword.com/late...

Jessica Peck
Jessica Peck

You are correct about the Benoir case that the court upheld the licensee/right distinction, but the analysis doesn't stop there. The big issue now is access to a constitional right. With the Ft. Collins ban, access to a constitutional right has been severely hindered. Many of the trial court decisions were only at the preliminary injunction stage, where plaintiffs were denied relief due to specific sets of circumstances, including access to other local MMCs and caregivers. The takings issue is also still at play. While MMC licenses may be a privilege in one context, Colorado law generally prevents municipalities from prohibiting a business that was lawful at the time it opens its doors from continuing to operate after an adverse change to local business and zoning regulations. This, too, is something that will need to be resolved.

Monkey
Monkey

The Ft Collins ban is the will of the voters and access to marijuana through your own garden or a caregiver is the only right patients have had for over a decade. MMJ centers, HB1284, HB1043, local bans, case precedence and pending cases have not and will not do anything to change that. You have the right to own guns, you don't have the right to "access" them from a store. Using the Constitution as an umbrella to include MMJ centers will be very difficult to convince a judge, jury or me.

Donkey Hotay's Dog
Donkey Hotay's Dog

If the Court of Appeals ruled that mmj is not a right, why would they care about access to a right (if there isn't a right). They will probably say your access is protected in the constitution by getting a caregiver. Patients have no "right" to access medicine in MMCs. MMCs are statutory and they are not caregivers.

Which cases are currently tackling these issues.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Thanks for the link, Jessica, and for sharing your perspective. Much appreciated.

malcolmkyle
malcolmkyle

Wondering whether or not it's wise to maintain your affiliation to any one of the estimated sixteen currently-active Mexican Drug Cartels? Then maybe you should consider the following information very carefully:

As a gesture of good will vis-à-vis cross-border relations, key members of the American Federal Government have recently pledged a solemn oath, declaring their commitment to encouraging people like yourself to increase performance and productivity. In particular, the United States Department of Justice will guarantee that you achieve a respectable level of technology in both military grade weapons and equipment while actively facilitating the laundering of that swirling cascade of cash that a business like yours invariably and continually generates. 

Still not convinced that during prohibition the phenomenal benefits of remaining an international drug criminal far outweigh the remotely possible, negative consequences? Here's another recent DOJ announcement, and this time written personally by their principal corporate attorney whose main priority is keeping himself out of jail:

"For nearly three years, I have been privileged to work closely with many of the most ruthless organizations to the south of our border. I am extremely proud of our record of abuse, fraud, waste and misconduct, and I pledge a continuation of all such policies that will further weaken our national security and compromise all honest efforts of law enforcement." - Attorney General Holder. 

Must we wait for a complete economic collapse to regain our "unalienable­" rights? Or is it high time we all stood up and told our government that we're pooped at being beaten and jailed in order that unconscionable Transnational Corporations can continue to addict & poison us for obscene profits?

"I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong take, Malcolm. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Gerald
Gerald

I dont wanna sound Xenophobic but if you want to import baseball players you go to Honduras, not politicians. 

Guest
Guest

from the CDPHE Website:

The Registry is committed to maintaining a medical marijuana program that is of high integrity and in compliance with state laws.  Over the past few months, we have been conducting an internal audit of our processes, policies, communication tools and forms.  In the normal course of administering the Medical Marijuana Registry, the Registry staff pay close attention to details of applications to ensure patients and physicians are within guidelines.  If the Registry has reason to question whether a Physician Certification is in compliance, these applications may undergo additional steps in the review process.  In some cases, the physician may be contacted to validate the Physician Certification and its process of completion. Currently 14 percent of applications are being delayed in review for verification of Physician Certifications. 

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

This would seem to be a temporary reprieve for the industry (i.e. until after the election).

CannaClaus
CannaClaus

Obama wants your vote so he sends his boy to the front lines,Didnt he pull this joke on us before ?Yeah,Right,Whatever,

jack straw from wichita
jack straw from wichita

politicians have something different to say to everyone they talk to... the truth is in the action and the action is that the federal government is cracking down on medical marijuana businesses instead of going after cartels and dangerous gangs. how often does a pot club get shut down? how often does a mid to high level trafficker actually get arrested? these guys know full well that going after cartels and gangs puts them in the line of fire, requires them to do real police work that gets frustrating when people shield themselves properly, and they can't just look up the address and phone number of where to hit in the phone book. this guy and gerlikowske both blame medical marijuana as the sole reason kids think drugs are okay to use, to them it's the perfect scape goat because they can effectively deliver arrests without lifting a finger and they get away with making the claim that it's actually the source of the drug problem in the united state.

GP
GP

Thumbs up Jared Polis!

Donkey Hotay's Dog
Donkey Hotay's Dog

MMC's are not constitutionally-protected. CAREGIVERS are constitutionally protected. HB1284 said specifically that MMCs could NOT be caregivers, thereby removing all constitutional protection from them. I can't believe Attorney Peck doesn't know that.

Moshimoshi
Moshimoshi

Holder is a liar. Watch what he and the administration do -- don't bother to listen to the words that they use to appease the public. Read about Operation Fast & Furious, where they helped Mexican drug cartels smuggle weapons and the newest story about the DOJ actually laundering cartel millions for them. Holder (and Obama by extension) don't give a fuck about patients.

Monkey
Monkey

You don't need to use much DOJ resources to get a list of criminals from the Colorado DOR and seize their stuff. I would say that would be a very profitable use of their limited resources. Our Constitution and all DOJ memos refer to caregivers in compliance with state law not the criminal enterprise code named MMJ centers, which are specifically not caregivers. 

Seriously
Seriously

hey, fuck you....criminal enterprise really? you fucking pussy caregivers are all just upset that you can't sell your basement weed to MMC's anymore, i am sick of this bullshit villianizing all MMC's. Yeah guess what, we are here to make a profit just like you did when you were growing weed in your basement, selling it to patients and centers, but isn't that the American Dream, earn a fucking living?

You fuckers all sold basement weed for $4,000/lb to centers and now are pissed that our efficient business model has dropped the price by almost 50% in both centers and on the black market. If you really cared about your "patients" you would be thrilled that the cost of medicine has dropped nearly 50% in 24 months, but instead you rail against the cirminal MMC's? 

FUCK YOU!

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

The total number of patients who currently possess valid Registry ID cards is 88,872.  Sixty percent of patients have designated a primary care-giver.

So 53,323 of 88,872 patients have caregivers--NOT MMC's.  So it  it looks like 35,640 either grow for themselves or have an MMC growing their plants.

There were 159,000+ registered patients--so almost 50% have not renewed.

Quote Seriously:"You fuckers all sold basement weed for $4,000/lb to centers and now are pissed that our efficient business model has dropped the price by almost 50% in both centers and on the black market."

Efficiency in the MMC business model:1.  How quickly the quality of REGULATED cannabis dropped.2.  How quickly the patients have chosen not to register in the voluntary registry.  3.  How quickly MMC's helped kill their own customer base-- voluntarily registered patients.

Quote Seriously:"If you really cared about your "patients" you would be thrilled that the cost of medicine has dropped nearly 50% in 24 months, but instead you rail against the cirminal MMC's?"

Not when the quality dropped 50% right along with the price.  If anybody cared about patients they would make sure they were receiving medical grade cannabis at a fair price for the risk being taken.  'Pretendica' has always been inexpensive. 

And with all the new toxic chemicals being used to attempt to control your industrial sized gardens from industrial sized powdery mildew and bug infestations--the early harvest, bad or no curing---

I'll take a small basement grown meds any day over warehouse grows.

And I'm happy to pay what I paid before hb1284 and the disastrous MMC model that violates the Colorado Constitution when it comes to patient privacy and patient and caregiver rights. 

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

It was 88,000 on Oct. 31, 2011.  Now 6 weeks later, it's probably more like 75,000 or less with the way the registry numbers are falling through the floor.  Does this mean that all dispensaries in Colorado have to chop down half their plants since now they have only half the patients to support the 6 plant per patient numbers??

MMIG is PIGS
MMIG is PIGS

Hi Norton! How is MMIG  doing these days? Been involved in any new scandals this months?

MMIG is PIGS
MMIG is PIGS

Boy did I speak to soon. Looks like >bold>ANOTHER member of MMIG got busted. Last month it was the Development Director of Day'z, and now this month it is Dmitry from Cannabis & Co.

What a swell group of people.

Anyone want to bet on which MMIG member will get busted next? I'll take Norton for $100 with 2:1 odds.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Yea 1/2 price = 1/2 quality.  Drugs are a sellers market, it's up to the seller to determine the price, not the custy - morons.  You selling for 1/2 price is only cause you're desperate and making poor decisions.  Warehouse weed will always be known as Beasters, even if grown in Denverville by a bunch of wanna - be - Canadians.

Pete
Pete

And now your client base is evaporating because as a group, MMCs were too stupid to realize patients don't want to be videotaped by the DOR!  You may not like the caregivers, but they will survive your fucked up business model!  

BTW, I am a caregiver for my wife, never sold to anyone, and my MJ is organically grown in a greenhouse, slow cured, and seriously good.  Fuck you!

Guest
Guest

and  that fuck you attitude is why I buy my pot off of craigs list.

Monkey
Monkey

mmmmm, warehouse weed. Half the price and twice as crappy. Good model!!

Gerald
Gerald

He is lying to appease Mr. Polis. He is a bold faced liar. Holder should be fired, and Honduran immigrants really shouldn't allowed to tell me what to do. 

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