Are you a man of your word?
Apr 15, 2011
President Barack Obama
The White House, 1st Floor, West Wing
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
In the summer of 2007, during your campaign for the presidency, you
said you would respect state medical marijuana laws if you were
victorious in the election. In March of 2009, Attorney General Eric
Holder said that your position as president was what you said it was
going to be during the campaign. In October 2009, your Department of
Justice issued a memo to U.S. Attorneys clarifying this position. The
following was the key sentence in that memo:
“As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus
federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in
clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for
the medical use of marijuana.”
This memo was clearly intended to cover not only medical marijuana
patients, but also the dispensaries that had been established in
California and elsewhere to provide patients with a reliable source for
their medicine. There would be no reason to issue a memo instructing
U.S. Attorneys to de-prioritize medical marijuana possession cases, as
everyone knows that federal prosecutors rarely, if ever, prosecute
individuals for small amounts of marijuana.
Despite this memo — or perhaps in direct defiance of it — we now have
two U.S. Attorneys in Washington state sabotaging the prospects of a
bill to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana by implying to
the governor that they are likely to go after any and all instances of
marijuana distribution. They are even suggesting that they could
prosecute state employees — a position directly undermined by past
federal court precedent! This is extremely disturbing on many levels.
Based directly on their threats, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is
now saying she will veto this sensible and needed legislation if it
reaches her desk. Your people, who have been advised to respect state
medical marijuana laws, may be directly responsible for an effective
law to regulate the system not going into effect.
What is truly pathetic is that the U.S. Attorneys don’t even appreciate
the irony of their position. They complain that the “Washington
legislative proposals will create a licensing scheme” for
marijuana distribution, which would “undermine the federal
government’s efforts to regulate” the production and distribution
of marijuana. No, the truth is that the Washington legislation is
specifically intended to regulate the distribution of marijuana; the
U.S. Attorneys, on the other hand, want to keep the distribution of
medical marijuana entirely unregulated and controlled by the black
So what are you going to do, Mr. Obama? Are you going to let these U.S.
Attorneys defy your stated policy in order to force medical marijuana
patients into the criminal market? Or are you going to tell them to
respect state laws — and the state legislative process — so that
states can regulate the distribution of medical marijuana in the manner
they feel is best for patients and for their states?
I will be waiting for an answer.
Mr. Ed Saukkooja