Press Release  | 10/07/2011

Obama Administration Escalates War on Medical Marijuana Patients

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US Attorneys in California Say They Will Shut Down Dispensaries, Prosecute Landlords and Seize Properties Notwithstanding State Law

Obama Administration's Medical Marijuana Policies Now Worse Than Bush and Clinton Policies

Despite the Obama Administration's promise to respect state law and leave medical marijuana patients alone, its attack on patients and providers operating legally under state law is rapidly escalating.  At least 16 landlords in California this week received letters stating that they are violating federal drugs laws and that state law will not protect them.  The four US Attorneys in California are holding a press conference in Sacramento today in which they are expected to announce a broad crackdown on medical marijuana.

A series of administration actions in the past month makes it clear that they are engaged in a full scale assault on medical marijuana patients' rights and their ability to access medicine and that they have reconsidered their willingness to allow states with medical marijuana laws to implement those policies without federal interference. The Treasury Dept. is forcing banks in Colorado to close accounts of medical marijuana businesses operating legally under state law. The IRS now says it will not recognize legitimate business expenses of dispensaries and is requiring owners to pay taxes required of no other businesses; the result will be closure of the most well regulated dispensaries and loss of millions of dollars in tax revenue for local governments.  And the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives last week ruled that state-sanctioned medical marijuana patients cannot legally possess firearms.

"The Obama administration's latest moves strongly suggest that their medical marijuana policies are now being driven by over-zealous prosecutors and the anti-marijuana ideologues who dominated policymaking in past administrations," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.  "Barack Obama is betraying promises made when he ran for president and turning his back on the sensible policies announced during his first year in office.  Instead of encouraging state and local authorities to regulate medical marijuana distribution in the interests of public safety and health, his administration seems determined to re-criminalize as much as possible.  It all adds up to bad policy, bad politics and bad faith."

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Stephen Gutwillig 323-542-2606

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