Marijuana at the Crossroads: Event asks if MMJ lawyers are breaking oath

marijuana scales of justice.jpg
According to keynote speaker and DU prof Sam Kamin, "Marijuana at the Crossroads," a Sturm College of Law symposium that starts tomorrow (see the schedule below), aims to get beyond the usual pot palaver.

Sample subject: Are attorneys breaking their professional oath simply by specializing in medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana law is a moving target, since its particulars seem to shift on a seemingly daily basis. Take U.S. Attorney John Walsh's seizure letters to 23 dispensaries near schools, many, if not all, of which appear to be legal under Colorado's standards. As such, "it's a procrastinator's dream to write a keynote speech on marijuana," Kamin jokes, adding, "There's no point in writing it until the day of."

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Sam Kamin.
Kamin feels marijuana-related earthquakes will continue to rattle the state throughout 2012 due in part to the likelihood that voters here will have a chance to decide whether to regulate and/or legalize cannabis for recreational adult use. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition's Neill Franklin believes federal anti-marijuana efforts will escalate as a result, and Kamin doesn't dismiss this theory.

"California was the first battleground," he notes. "Proposition 19," a 2010 legalization proposal, "was pretty hotly contested there, and you had the Attorney General of the United States [Eric Holder] weigh in and say, 'We're not going to put up with you guys legalizing marijuana.' And that's where there were the first grand jury indictments and letters sent to landlords and businesses. So they really made something of a test case of California, and that's a blueprint of what 2012 looks like in Colorado, with regulation heading for the ballot and the crackdowns starting."

These conflicts set up what Kamin sees as an untenable situation.

"We can't go on the way we are now," he maintains. "We have a multi-million dollar industry that employs thousands, if not tens of thousands, in Colorado and brings in a lot of tax revenue, even though every sale violates federal law. That's no way to run a railroad, and it can't go on like that indefinitely. And that asks the question: What are the ways it could go?"

His most likely scenarios: "We could have ten more states legalize or come up with medical marijuana laws -- and then I think the pressure would be pretty heavy on Washington from representatives in those states saying, 'You've got to do away with federal prohibition.' Or we could have a big crackdown, where the feds start busting not dozens of people, but hundreds, which could drive the industry underground. Or there could be some federal-state cooperation, where the feds could say, 'We're really going to leave states like Colorado alone. We'll continue prohibition, but states that can show they're regulating it well and safely and efficiently will get a pass."

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U.S. Attorney John Walsh.
In the meantime, he believes the current confusion benefits no one. "If you're running a dispensary, you don't know what your rights and obligations are. If you're a patient, you don't know if you could lose your public housing or have your job taken away or face serious jail time for being a medical marijuana patient. It's too contradictory to go along this way indefinitely."

Of these prospects, Kamin thinks a tipping point of states legalizing medical marijuana may be the likeliest. "Right now, you've got seventeen jurisdictions out of 51," counting Washington, D.C., that have legalized MMJ. "That's about a third. And if it gets to half the states -- or half of the population -- that means half of the representatives in Congress will be from states that say this is medicine. I think that makes the future of federal prohibition pretty tenuous.

"We're not that far from getting to that place. It's only eight or nine more states. Of course, it took us fifteen or twenty years to get to the current number of states, and it might be ten or twenty more years to get the rest of the states to line up. But I think that's where the fight is going to be."

Will that remain the case no matter who is elected president in 2012?

Page down to continue reading our interview with keynote speaker Sam Kamin.


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30 comments
Gary
Gary

It would seem to me that a smart attorney would figure out a way via the Supreme Court to challenge the Federal Law and get it tossed, since this prohibition all came about based on lies, particularly when States push back, as they are doing now with the ballot measures.

concernedparentandtaxpayer
concernedparentandtaxpayer

Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child or grandchild thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains.If ordinary Americans could grow a little marijuana in their own back yards, it would be about as valuable as home-grown tomatoes; it would put the criminals out of business and get them out of our neighborhoods. 

Copatient
Copatient

It is time to make the voice of Colorado heard by the feds and state. A permit will be pulled for a  protest and or rally. Info will be posted for all to attend. We should be allowed to ship via USPS to other legal states. USPS wants money, then charge a extra a cannabis shipping fee or tax. IRS must make it so we can pay our additional income tax on cannabis with out fear.When in out history has IRS, USPS, and other local and state agencies work together to bust non violent citizens? This must end. Other state are watching us and we must do something. MMED must go. Stop using my tax money on cannabis raids in Colorado. PERIOD.

Mark Goldfogel
Mark Goldfogel

Its so interesting to me how quickly we focus on the weeds and forget the mission.  (pun intended).  If there was a pharmacological solution that offered the healing properties of Cannabis, we would not be having this discussion.  There is not one, and that wont change quickly, no matter who is in office.   

We are living in an age where knowledge, common sense and regulation don't match.  That will come to an end. And like most revolutions in the 21st century, it will likely be done by lawyers.  Without bloodshed. 

Like it or not.  Legal or not.   No government has a right to make me throw up, when it can be prevented easily. 

Guesto
Guesto

Ron Paul understands the general idea for the creation of the USA which was we don't like tyrants and we don't want people who aren't our neighbors telling us what to do!!! 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Sample subject: Are attorneys breaking their professional oath simply by specializing in medical marijuana?

BAM !! ... someone finally sees the 800 lb. gorilla in the room !!

How many Federal laws -- felonies -- are lawyers allowed to break and/or ignore while prospectively counseling their clients who are currently violating, and/or planning on violating, all for personal pecuniary gain ?

Heck, there are even lawyers who are ACTIVELY engaged in owning/operating/profiting from dispensaries.

So, an open letter to the Colorado Bar Association -- please provide a list of all the crimes that your lawyers are allowed to ignore or violate, either directly, or by prospectively counseling the continuing criminal enterprises that their clients are engaging in ... all done for personal financial gain.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The assumption that states which make some legal provision for the medical use of cannabis elect pro-cannabis representatives is wrong.  Jared Polis represents our interests, but the rest of our Congressional delegation do not.  Consider Diana DeGette:  her district strongly supported the Medical Cannabis Amendment, and the core of her support comes from people who have voted repeatedly and by wide margins to liberalize our cannabis-laws, but DeGette says only that she will take our views into consideration.

The political course of cannabis over the next few years in very uncertain.  People who use cannabis are only ~20% of the population, and most are not in the first rank of those informed and involved in the legal and political processes.  The response within the community to Initiative 30 amply demonstrates this -- many of the few who do speak up are living in some sort of political bubble; they continue to show no interest whatever in what the 80% of voters who do not use cannabis think about the laws against it, and their rhetoric is entirely directed at people who use cannabis.  The assumption that the prohibitionist establishment will simply wither away with time is based on generational naivete, and it ignores the enormous economic and political inertia of the system.  Unless more people who use cannabis become involved, the present impetus to end Prohibition may fade.  The prohibitionists are not giving up, and many of them earn their living perpetuating it.

We must demand that people who use cannabis acquire a (political) education, confront the rampant trivialization of the issue, and hone pragmatic arguments against Prohibition.  Our single greatest impediment is our psychological and fiscal inability to carry the battle to society at large.  We must personalize and sharpen the debate -- the people who work to enforce Prohibition, especially those who profit from it, must be attacked.  The same parasites behind the recent mass arrests frequently testify before the General Assembly and are accorded great respect -- we must eliminate or at least drastically reduce that respect.  The need to reach the masses with coherent, rational proposals for reform is critical.  We can not expect to make much forward progress while most of our representatives continue to oppose fundamental change.

Mark Griggs
Mark Griggs

It's sad that Ron Paul was even mentioned in the same paragraph as Obama.  He deserves is own paragraph and then some for the fight he's taking on.  I almost voted but was in training for the Army at the time of Obama's rise to power.  Now I'm just glad I don't have that vote on my conscience.  I will be voting for Dr Paul however, as a veteran and defender of the Constitution because he helped me see how wrong the prohibition is in general, and especially towards minorities.  He helped me understand that Black and Latino men are unproportionally targeted and convicted.  For someone who has been labeled racist for something he didn't do (see any youtube vid on the newsletter subject), Dr Paul is willing to DO what's right to free the innocent men and women wrongfully incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses and I applaud him for his courage as this is obviously not the popular ticket to run on especially in these times of perpetual war..  That's a man of courage and that's why every man and woman in my battalion are supporting him 100%.  Cheers to freedom and ending the 70 years of wrongful oppression against people seeking to explore their own conciousness or even their own method of pain relief.  If elected, he will keep our children from being locked up with child molesters and murderers for simply possessing a substance.  And that to me is more valuable than gold..  2x OEF Army Intelligence Veteran 

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Mass Psychosis is the real problem here.  It's like the Y2K phenomenon, the sky is falling phenomenon.  If we could all just develop a lack luster approach, the truth would be know, the sky didn't fall and everyone on earth from the casual smoker all the way to Obama could just give a great big sigh of relief that the weed war is over!  Everything that has ever been said or done from the one extreme of prohibition to the other extreme of saying that "20 more years of medical marijuana regulations" are needed has just got to end.  It's up to humans to decide on an individual basis how they will use cannabis.  Like sex and rock and roll, let it be an individual choice is the only thing that makes sense.  Why try to convince voters or anyone of anything for that matter involving cannabis.  It is what it is and will always be.  Jah Bless the cannabis plant and all who know its use!

concernedparentandtaxpayer
concernedparentandtaxpayer

Yes, the last thing we want is people to talk to lawyers so they can figure out how to legally create jobs and provide a product that tens of millions of Americans want.

Much better to put them all in jail; no more asking lawyers for legal guidance!

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

" We must demand that people who use cannabis acquire a (political) education.... "

LOL!

You might as well demand that fools become wise ... or the ugly become beautiful ...

Sisyphus much ?

Steven M. Cooper
Steven M. Cooper

 The only problem is that you are a one-issue voter.  Dr. Paul is anti-choice for women, for one thing.  Then there's his newsletters, sent out under his name (that makes him responsible for the content of the rag), which are definitely racist. He's not the wonderful old gent who 'gets it' re: cannabis.  Sure, it would be nice to have cannabis legalized, non-violent offenders released, but at what cost? Paul's position on many other things are just too out there.  Disband the EPA, indeed. Who the **** is gonna look out for our air and water? Not RP (or any other rethuglian). I'm gonna quit now before I really get going on all the reasons RP is the wrong person for Pres.  Gary Johnson is a much better choice.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mark. Based on our comments section, Ron Paul has a lot of enthusiastic supporters among our readers.

Denver MMJ Dispensary Man
Denver MMJ Dispensary Man

Hmmm. Fort Collins to Colorado is similar to the city of San Francisco to California. And as of Valentine's Day, Fort Collins medical marijuana dispensaries will be forced to close. So, yeah kinda strange.

This year should be a big one for MMJ, dispensaries, and marijuana alike. It could unfold in many different directions, so we shall see, sir!

Mr Mezzrow
Mr Mezzrow

Nice try, buddy:http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news...

San Francisco Resumes Licensing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

The medical cannabis dispensary game is back on in San Francisco.

Like many other places across California, the birthplace of medical marijuana -- where AIDS and cancer patients openly purchased weed before state voters passed 1996's Compassionate Use Act -- had halted issuing new licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries since the fall, when a court decision out of Southern California informed cities and counties across the state that licensing pot is in itself a violation of federal law.

That state appeals court decision, handed down in the case of Pack vs. Long Beach, is now being appealed to the California Supreme Court. The appeal could take years to be ruled upon, but in the meantime, the lower court decision is vacated, and it's game back on.

 

Mr Mezzrow
Mr Mezzrow

Nice try, buddy:http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news...

San Francisco Resumes Licensing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

The medical cannabis dispensary game is back on in San Francisco.

Like many other places across California, the birthplace of medical marijuana -- where AIDS and cancer patients openly purchased weed before state voters passed 1996's Compassionate Use Act -- had halted issuing new licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries since the fall, when a court decision out of Southern California informed cities and counties across the state that licensing pot is in itself a violation of federal law.

That state appeals court decision, handed down in the case of Pack vs. Long Beach, is now being appealed to the California Supreme Court. The appeal could take years to be ruled upon, but in the meantime, the lower court decision is vacated, and it's game back on.

 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

The Puerile Pot Clowns always respond like hysterical little girls ... it's the only emotional aspect they know.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

HipTip -- you can't legally create jobs by BREAKING THE LAW!

Hope that helps.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

If you love me, invite me to speak (and smoke me out).

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Pot users will all group together when cats run in herds ...

Mark Griggs
Mark Griggs

That gives me hope.  After watching South Carolina boo Dr Paul's approach to the Golden Rule, a small piece of me died.  I thought my allegiance to the Constitution was a shared honor that most Americans understood.  Now I see that it's easy to call yourself American as long as we bully other nations and allow our soldiers to take the blowback.  That is the very definition of forfeiting freedoms for securities and I could not be more ashamed.  Our enemies are right here at home, not in the hills of Afghanistan or sands of Iraq.  Let this be known, the Muslim community's pillars of faith and belief in hospitality has saved many a soldier's life.  My own especially, a few times over.  I'm disgusted at what these wars have become to the typical Fox viewer, a competition of faiths.  I'm a Christian, and a pious one.  But the Muslim community are a beautiful people.  I can't wait to move to Colorado, my Texan neighbors are happy to call me hero only to damn an entire region they know nothing about..  Thank you Colorado, at least the entire country isn't totally confined to it's own idiocy...

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Another stoner doesn't even know what time it is ... or day.

Monkey
Monkey

You should read the dates, your article was from tue. while HCC link is from wed. when the changed their minds. Shit happens quick, don't be so quick, nice try buddy. 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Or rephrased ... 

Client: "I have a plan to commit numerous Federal Felonies, on a daily basis, as a continuing criminal enterprise, and I need your legal advice and assistance on how best to actually implement and operate that criminal enterprise"

Lawyer: "OK, no problem, but first I'll need a $10,000 retainer, and I bill at $350 / hour."

Client: "Do you accept cash $ ? ... I have it here in this bag ..."

Lawyer: "Certainly ... now lets get started ..."

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

I often though that if you asked a lawyer, "hey is it legal if I grow and sell marijuana", the ethical answer from a lawyer would be a simple free of charge "no client, marijuana is illegal and it is my job to tell you so" end of story have a nice day.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Imagine when one or two prominent MMJ attorneys are brought before the Grievance Committee and disbarred from practice, for willfully violating their code of ethics by prospectively counseling clients who they know are actively engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise by violating federal felony drug laws on a daily basis ... all for personal financial gain.

Checkmate!

Game over !!

Monkey
Monkey

There is more and more info as the day goes on but you are 100% correct, they are done! The feds learn in Cali and bring their knowledge here. Imagine when they threaten a local or State lawmaker in Colorado, the whole licensing thing will be over in a day. They are happy to influence people to break the law but once they realize their own house might be raided, I'm pretty sure they will flea, not fight, and take the whole industry with them. Cali is Colorado's future, like a crystal ball.http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Thanks for watching my back Monkey, can you please update your comment with links to further illustrate since the last poster wrote such a huge post that is wrong!

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