California Medical Marijuana is Under Attack: Marijuana Attorneys Talk about the Drug War and the Oaksterdam Raid and Who Really Prompted It

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Though California medical marijuana patients and dispensaries that have been interviewed in recent news stories or picketed in front of legislative buildings are blaming the Obama administration for the Oaksterdam raid in California and the current drug war by the Department of Justice, it is unclear what prompted the Oaksterdam raid. Federal prosecutors do have the "plenary authority" to prosecute anyone violating federal law, and in fact, it is a federal law. The question, posed by LibertyBell Law Group's criminal attorneys, is do US attorney generals receive direction on investigations and where they should concentrate their efforts?

Governmental bodies need to focus efforts on public safety....over 70% of Americans approve medical marijuana, it makes no sense at all to focus our already meager resources on campaigns that do not definitively improve public safety.

LibertyBell Law Group’s criminal attorneys, Gina Tennen and Jennifer Wirsching, are troubled over current efforts by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shut down California medical marijuana businesses. Recently, a raid on the Oakland, California marijuana trade school called Oaksterdam prompted national attention. Federal laws banning medical marijuana may have instigated the Oaksterdam raid, though under California state laws, Oaksterdam was run legally. This was the topic on KABC’s Peter Tilden April 2nd show, where Managing Attorney, Ms. Tennen, and Supervising Attorney, Ms. Wirsching, gave expert opinions.

A state and federal marijuana attorney, Jennifer Wirsching stated, “It seems strange that since 2009, the federal administration has had the stance of, if people are abiding by state laws we’re going to leave them alone.” Her comment is regarding the DOJ 2009 memo on medical marijuana laws and seeming reversal of this policy.

In October of 2011, federal prosecutors vowed to shut down California medical marijuana dispensaries. Federal prosecutors may charge medical marijuana dispensaries with drug trafficking and more. The DOJ’s Deputy Attorney General, David Ogden, sent the 2009 memo to the United States Attorneys (federal prosecutors), and provides ambiguous guidance to the drug war. It says “not to focus federal resources…on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” The memo also says US Attorneys have “plenary authority with regard to federal criminal matters,” (and quotes federal law USAM 9-2.001), and “no State can authorize violations of federal law.”

Though this happened while Obama is president, it is unknown what and who, cued the Oaksterdam raid and the current drug war. US Attorneys do have the autonomy to prosecute anyone violating federal law. It is unclear why the Department of Justice is publicly focusing efforts on prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries.

To date, exactly zero Wall Street bankers have been prosecuted. On Oct. 6 2011, President Obama commented on how the Attorney General is responsible for prosecuting those engaging in fraudulent activities. The statute of limitations, for prosecuting Wall Street bankers, is near the maximum time allowed. The federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded, in January of 2011, that the world wide “crisis was avoidable”, and due to “an explosive mix of excessive borrowing and risk by households and Wall Street that put the financial system on a collision course with crisis.” The website of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was frozen and archived on March of 2011 and is now managed by the National Archives and Records Administration.

LibertyBell Law Group attorneys would prefer to see taxpayers dollars focused on matters crucial to our economy and justice for all, rather than tax paying and state law abiding medical marijuana dispensaries.

“Governmental bodies need to focus efforts on public safety where we need it most. They owe it to the taxpayers and it is their obligation. At a time when states have enormous debts, and over 70% of Americans approve medical marijuana, it makes no sense at all to focus our already meager resources on campaigns that do not definitively improve public safety.”, says criminal attorney, Gina Tennen.

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Linda Garcia

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