Congresswoman Barbara Lee Sponsors Legislation

Aug 5, 2012

Cal­i­for­nia Rep. Bar­bara Lee won’t be spooked by the Jus­tice Department’s aggres­sive cur­tail­ing of med­ical mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries in her own back­yard. Lee, a top Demo­c­rat on the House Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, intro­duced the States’ Med­ical Mar­i­juana Prop­erty Rights Pro­tec­tion Act in Con­gress this week, which she says would curb the Obama Administration’s efforts to intim­i­date state med­ical mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries from set­ting up shop. “The peo­ple of Cal­i­for­nia have made it legal for patients to have safe access to med­i­c­i­nal mar­i­juana and as a result thou­sands of small busi­ness own­ers have invested mil­lions of dol­lars in build­ing their com­pa­nies, cre­at­ing jobs, and pay­ing their taxes,” Lee says. “We should be pro­tect­ing and imple­ment­ing the will of vot­ers, not under­min­ing our democ­racy by pros­e­cut­ing small busi­ness own­ers who pay taxes and com­ply with the laws of their states in pro­vid­ing med­i­cine to patients in need.” The bill will make it ille­gal for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to seize the assets of med­ical mar­i­juana busi­ness own­ers, a tac­tic DOJ has begun using to crack down on pot shops. While DOJ rarely takes legal action against busi­nesses that com­ply with their local and state laws, Amer­i­cans for Safe Access, a group that is com­mit­ted to legal­iz­ing med­ical mar­i­juana says the threat alone has been enough to scare roughly 400 med­ical mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries in the state of Cal­i­for­nia to close their doors. The Jus­tice Depart­ment has sent roughly 300 let­ters to land­lords in Cal­i­for­nia and Col­orado threat­en­ing to file law­suits if they don’t stop oper­at­ing dis­pen­saries. “For the price of postage, the Jus­tice Depart­ment gets to threaten an entire pop­u­la­tion of prop­erty own­ers and it is a very effec­tive tac­tic,” says Kris Her­mes, a spokesman with Amer­i­cans for Safe Access. Lee announced her leg­is­la­tion just weeks after U.S. Attor­ney Melinda Haag filed a law­suit against Oak­land and San Jose, Calif.-based med­ical mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary Har­bor­side Health Clinic. Haag argues the clin­ics, which serve about 100,000 med­ical mar­i­juana users, could be vio­lat­ing local laws because of the num­ber of patients they pro­vide pot to. “The larger the oper­a­tion, the greater like­li­hood that there will be abuse of the state’s med­ical mar­i­juana laws, and mar­i­juana in the hands of indi­vid­u­als who do not have a demon­strated med­ical need,” Haag said in a state­ment. The asset for­fei­ture law­suit caused an uproar in the com­mu­nity, with thou­sands of sig­na­tures gath­ered for an anti-lawsuit peti­tion drive, protests, and polit­i­cal ral­lies. “They won’t stop until they have closed every sin­gle reg­u­lated law-abiding dis­pen­sary in Cal­i­for­nia unless peo­ple rise up and say enough is enough,” says Steve DeAn­gelo, the exec­u­tive direc­tor at Har­bor­side Health Clinic. But DeAn­gelo says it wasn’t always this way. The fed­eral government’s dogged pur­suit of med­ical mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries has esca­lated since 2009. On the cam­paign trail and at the begin­ning of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s time in office, med­ical mar­i­juana seemed low on the administration’s pri­or­ity list. “I think the basic con­cept of using med­ical mar­i­juana for the same pur­poses and with the same con­trols as other drugs pre­scribed by doc­tors, I think that’s entirely appro­pri­ate,” Obama said in the Spring of 2008 dur­ing an inter­view with Ore­gon News­pa­per, the Mail Tri­bune. “I’m not going to be using Jus­tice Depart­ment resources to try to cir­cum­vent state laws on this issue.” Sev­en­teen states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia have med­ical mar­i­juana laws and Amer­i­cans for Safe Access esti­mates the Jus­tice Depart­ment has car­ried out roughly 200 raids on dis­pen­saries or grow­ing facil­i­ties in nine states. Her­mes fears if the law­suits per­sist, patients who need med­ical cannabis could be forced into the unreg­u­lated drug mar­ket. “[Rep. Lee’s] law would take the wind out of the sails of the Jus­tice Depart­ment to intim­i­date dis­pen­saries who are serv­ing patients in need,” Her­mes says. Source: U.S. News & World Report (US) Author: Lau­ren Fox Pub­lished: August 3, 2012 Copy­right: 2012 U.S. News & World Report Web­site: http://​www​.usnews​.com/

9a71165e55ents 2.jpg 150x113 Congresswoman Barbara Lee Sponsors Legislation

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Con­gress­woman Bar­bara Lee Spon­sors Legislation

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