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Feds Do 180 on Policy Regarding Medical Marijuana Industry in California By Rebecca E. Neely California is cracking down on the state’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry. Recently, federal officials warned many marijuana dispensaries throughout the state to close or risk facing civil and criminal actions.

Tensions are running high between the federal government and the state over the issue. And the edict appears to completely contradict what the Obama administration said in October 2009, that: “federal prosecutors would not prosecute individual patients who used marijuana or the operators that distributed it for medical reasons in a state where it had been legalized,” per the October 8th nytimes.com article, “U.S. Attorneys in California Set Crackdown on Marijuana”.

Melinda Haag has served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California since being appointed by Obama in August of 2010. Benjamin B. Wagner was appointed by President Barack Obama on November 6, 2009 as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California. Reactions

Though it’s hard to say, one can only wonder if the crackdown isn’t at least in part, politically motivated, as the presidential campaign looms. California was the first state to make medical marijuana legal in 1996. Since then, fifteen other states have followed suit. According to the nytimes.com article, the four United States attorneys in California said they would take action against landlords renting to operators of dispensaries. Prosecutors suspect the dispensaries are being used as a cover for large scale drug operations; in the tens of millions of dollars. The four U.S. attorneys in California Laura E. Duffy has served as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California since June of 2010, when she was appointed by President Obama. The Southern District of California includes San Diego and Imperial Counties, and has approximately 3.1 million residents. In September 2009, President Obama appointed André Birotte Jr. as the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. The district includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

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André Birotte Jr., the United States attorney in Los Angeles, was quoted as saying: “This is not what the California voters intended or authorized. It is illegal under California law.” Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports the legalization of the drug for medical and non-medical use, was quoted as saying: “It’s a tremendous shift for them to say they are going to do this. But for now it is still threats. Until we start seeing the shutdowns themselves, it’s hard to know what it means more than rhetoric.” Benjamin B. Wagner, the United States attorney in Sacramento was quoted as saying: “Large commercial operations cloak their money-making activities in the guise of helping sick people when they are in fact helping themselves. Our interest is in enforcing federal criminal law, not prosecuting seriously ill sick people and those who are caring for them.” According to the October 13th sfgate.com article, “Dispensary ads next targets in federal war on pot”, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy is preparing to target media, including newspapers and radio stations, that advertise medical marijuana dispensaries.

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Feds Do 180 on Policy Regarding Medical Marijuana Industry in California