Medical marijuana groups ask President Obama to call off MMJ crackdowns

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At 2 p.m., hours before President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at CU-Boulder, members of Colorado's medical marijuana industry will stage a press conference at which they'll ask the commander in chief to order call off federal law-enforcers such as U.S. Attorney John Walsh, whose seizure-threat letters to dispensaries near schools, which began in January, entered its second phase last month.

"Clearly what's been going on in Colorado, with John Walsh sending threatening letters to medical marijuana centers, violates the administration's stated policy to respect state laws on medical marijuana issues," says Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.

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Photo by Kim Sidwell
Aaron Smith, right, with marijuana activist Mason Tvert.
As Smith argued when decrying the initial wave of U.S. Attorney letters, memos written by then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden and Deputy Attorney General James Cole advise federal law-enforcers not to expend scarce resources prosecuting MMJ operations that are legal by the standard of states where medical marijuana has been authorized. And he says the MMCs that have been ordered to shut down or move to a location at least 1,000 feet from a school "were in clear compliance with the law -- and if they weren't, we have a Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division here in Colorado that's tasked with dealing with it. So we want the president to see that this is a major issue in Colorado and rein in his Justice Department."

Although Obama's visit to Colorado isn't officially a campaign stop, his pitch to prevent a rise in student-loan rates appears to be an effort to shore up loyalty among young voters -- a key part of his base. But while this slice of the populace tends to favor medical marijuana access (and marijuana reform), Smith points out that it's far from the only group to take such a position.

"We know that support for medical marijuana is already upwards of 75 percent across the country," he says. "And I'm sure that number would be even higher in Colorado, because it takes into account states that are very conservative. So it's not just the youth vote. Youth and younger voters may be more supportive of this than the older generation, but it makes no political sense to assault state-legal medical marijuana providers that create jobs, pay taxes and strengthen communities when they have such overwhelming public support -- and when that support cuts across demographic lines."

Page down to continue reading our preview of the MMJ industry message to President Obama.

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