Obama urged to nix medical marijuana crackdown

Medical marijuana advocates gathered Tuesday morning in San Francisco to urge President Obama, arriving in the city later in the day, to call off federal prosecutors’ crackdown on dispensaries across the state.

“This is getting a little Kafkaesque for my blood,” said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said at a news conference a few blocks from where the president was scheduled to raise funds a few hours later. “They’re acing rather like thugs.”

“I’m an Obama fan, however I also believe in loyal opposition, and I’m very loyally opposed to what’s happening here,” he said. “We are asking that he intervene here.”

Ammiano said he has asked House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and other California House members to help set up a meeting with Justice Department and IRS officials to discuss their intentions; he said he also wants more input from Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Kamala Harris. “But right now, zip is happening, and it’s a slap in the face to all the people who voted for (Proposition) 215.”

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos said there’s “a great deal of disappointment that those of us who have supported and continue to support President Obama have about how this is being handled.” Such people now call upon him “to do what he promised, to do the right thing,” Campos said; he said he’ll introduce a resolution to the Board of Supervisors that takes a stand against the crackdown and asks the federal government to respect state law. “This is a states’ rights issue, and California voters have spoken on this.”

Stephen DeAngelo, whose Harborside Health Center in Oakland was recently hit with a multimillion-dollar tax bill after IRS auditors said it can’t use the same deductions as other small businesses, said a glance at who the federal prosecutors are targeting proves they’re not limiting themselves to profiteers and interstate bootleggers as they’d said they would.

Instead, he said, they’ve targeted places like his own dispensary, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana and Northstone Organics in Mendocino County, all of which have been “100 percent compliant and have never diverted a single gram of marijuana out of state.” All the federal authorities are doing is threatening the security of tens of thousands of patients, denying local governments many millions in tax revenue, and putting thousands of people out of work, he said.

“They should either learn how to aim, or learn how to tell the truth,” DeAngelo said.

Lots more, after the jump…

Fairfax Mayor Larry Bragman said his town was the state’s first, 14 years ago, to issue a use permit for a medical marijuana dispensary, rife with conditions regulating its operation. “It’s all been a transparent operation, it’s been in continuous operation for 14 years… and this has been an open and positive relationship for the community,” he said.

Bragman said he talked to Northern District U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag last week, and she invited Fairfax officials and Marin Alliance representatives to meet with her staff. “Ultimately it’s about the patients, it’s about the dignity and the liberty of the patients,” he said.

Marin Alliance director Lynette Shaw said if the White House truly didn’t order this crackdown, as spokespeople have claimed, Obama can easily sign an executive order to stop it immediately “and save the patients from any more suffering.”

David Goldman from the San Francisco chapter of Americans for Safe Access said it’s “completely disingenuous” for prosecutors to claim their action against dispensaries won’t target patients. Patients rely on dispensaries as a safe, legal means of obtaining medicine, he said; without them, they have no choice but to seek it on the streets. “An attack on safe access is an attack on patients.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • John W

    “It’s a slap in the face to all the people who voted for (Propositon) 215.”

    Wrong! The farce that the state has created with the “clinics” springing up all over the place like, well, “weeds,” aided and abetted by the unethical docs who write “prescriptions” and issue cards for $50 — that’s what is a slap in the face to all the people who thought they were voting for the compassionate authorization of MJ for medical purposes, not for defacto legalization of MJ.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Medical weed should not be denied to anyone regardless of age, sex, creed, state of health, state of mind, income, looks, weight, IQ, prior convictions, gang affiliation, citizenship, Raiders allegiance, etc.

  • John G.

    If medical marijuana were realy medical, the state would have arrested “pot docs” for writing sham prescriptions and shut down profit-making clubs that covered for illegal drug activity. Instead, they did nothing… demonstrating that the whole thing was a scam fomented by pot-heads who wanted a legal fix.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    See my Sunday Forum letter on this question.

  • Truthclubber

    Hey, John G., how’d that martini you had before dinner this evening taste? Pretty good, eh? Well, less than eighty years ago, you were a FELON if you did that.

    Go back into the fascist hole you crawled out of, and put the lid on after you get settled.

  • Mark

    Hey John G… As a terminally ill patient and a chemo therapy patient, can I trade my diagnosis for your narrow mind? Cannabis keeps me from throwing up all over myself. Sounds like you just naturally throw up stupitidy all over yourself and the rest of us… Try getting educated before you puke your “wisdom” all over California. I’d be ashamed.

  • Elenin

    One of the few growth industries in California these days and after 14 years the Feds are going after it. Well, at least they are consistent. Not the same failed 40 year ‘war on drugs’ but the legitimate, tax producing collectives are their targets now. And not just them, but the legitimate business men and women who rent to them as well. Dirty buggers.
    Nasty tactics used for a mindless witchhunt over a god given plant that has been proven to help a lot of people.
    Big Pharma, Alcohol,Tobacco and the Prison–industrial complex are arrayed against the will of the California people by vote and the sentiment of the nation as a whole, imho. Mr. Obama must step lively to curb this onslaught if he wishes to maintain any sort of credibility in my eyes.

  • Sheri O

    I want Obama to nix the medical marijuana crackdown by the federal agents. I am a grandmother with a incurable, terminal condition which causes me great pain for which I take drugs prescribed by my doctors. These drugs make me extremely nauseaous and kills my appetite. Medical MJ is the only medicine that helps me. Without the clinics I was forced to search the streets to find someone to sell MJ to me. It was dangerous and scary. I never knew what type I was getting or if it was the real weight. And the cost kept going up, up, up! I am permanently disabled and live on a small fixed income. Please, even if you don’t approve of medical MJ for yourself and your family, let those of us who really need this medicine alone. Let us live in peace, instead of making us criminals.

  • Elwood

    Isn’t it nice that nobody smokes that **** to get high any more?

    It’s all medicine now!

  • Elwood

    @ #5

    toothsucker’s only possible redeeming virtue is his consistency.

    Anyone who disagrees with him is a fascist.

    What a clever boy!

  • John W

    Re: #5

    Nobody, including the Obama administration, proposes to deny medical use of MJ by California cancer patients or others with a legitimate need. They do propose to crack down on the bogus, criminal operations that are trafficking in weed under the cover of medical use. Docs writing those sham prescriptions should be included.