Rally Protests Federal Raid on Pot Trade School
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Rally Protests Federal Raid on Pot Trade School
Posted by CN Staff on April 04, 2012 at 06:52:44 PT
By Lee Romney, Joe Mozingo and John Hoeffel
Source: Los Angeles Times 
San Francisco -- Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at City Hall here Tuesday to demand federal respect for state and local marijuana laws, a day after federal agents raided the state's first pot trade school and a related dispensary across the bay in Oakland.The San Francisco rally and march to a nearby federal building was planned before Monday's raid. But the sweep on businesses owned by prominent marijuana activist Richard Lee emboldened protesters and brought denunciations from local officials and lawmakers in five states with medical cannabis laws.
Protesters heaped scorn on Melinda Haag, U.S. attorney for Northern California. "We are going to push back," Stephanie Tucker, a San Francisco activist with the Medical Cannabis Task Force, told the whooping crowd Tuesday. "We've had enough after the hostile attack yesterday in Oakland."As Tucker led protesters in chants of "Our state. Our medicine. Our laws," Lee, a paraplegic, sat quietly in his wheelchair, surrounded by well-wishers.Monday's federal search warrants targeted numerous properties, including Lee's dispensary, apartment and Oaksterdam University — which since 2007 has taught about the business, cultivation and laws of marijuana. No arrests were made as part of a joint investigation by the IRS and Drug Enforcement Administration. Both agencies have declined to comment, saying records are under seal.U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) said the raids caused her concern. "After the people of the state of California voted to make medicinal cannabis legal, thousands of small businesses have invested millions of dollars in building their businesses, created good-paying jobs and paid millions in taxes," she said in a statement. "The business owners are doing everything they can to comply with the law, and they deserve clarification."She said she was working on several bills that would align federal law with state medical marijuana statutes.Federal prosecutors have frequently targeted dispensaries that make profits, arguing that California law requires the stores to run as not-for-profit collectives. In practice, many make millions of dollars.When Richard Lee spearheaded the legalization initiative, Proposition 19 in 2010, he said Oakland's ordinance and state law were ambiguous enough that he could make money. At the time, Oakland allowed individuals to own dispensaries but allowed only "reasonable compensation," not "excessive profits."Arturo Sanchez, Oakland deputy city administrator, said he believed from a review of Lee's books that the compensation paid to staff and management was appropriate.Lee has said he reinvests the income from his operations in efforts to mainstream marijuana. He spent $1.5 million to launch his campaign to pass the 2010 legalization measure.By Tuesday, his Coffeeshop Blue Sky dispensary had reopened, thanks to emergency supplies from growers. The university is expected to reopen Wednesday."One way or another, Oaksterdam will live on," Lee said quietly at the rally.Lee said the IRS had a heavy presence at the raid, "so I think it was about the money."Lee's attorney, Laurence Jeffrey Lichter, said in a phone interview his client is in "complete compliance" with state and local laws. He pointed out that federal authorities have made evictions and applied economic pressure in California but have yet to issue any indictments."I'm hoping what they did yesterday is like the IRS auditing him — that it's an attempt to change his behavior, or to demonstrate to people surviving on this industry in a terrible economy that it's Russian roulette," said Lichter, who serves as Oaksterdam's law dean.Five members of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors and representatives of state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), and state Board of Equalization member Betty Yee told the crowd at City Hall that they would continue to press the cause with federal officials.Dispensaries have brought "over $100 million to California's coffers every year," Yee's chief deputy, Alan LoFaso, said to cheers.In and outside of California, the raid riled state lawmakers who have worked on medical marijuana laws. Ammiano, who has written legislation that would permit and regulate sales statewide, joined Assemblyman Chris Norby (R-Fullerton) and legislators from Washington, New Mexico, Maine and Colorado in signing an open letter to federal officials."States with medical marijuana laws have chosen to embrace an approach that is based on science, reason and compassion," the lawmakers wrote. "Unfortunately, these laws face a mounting level of federal hostility and confusing mixed messages from the Obama administration, the Department of Justice and the various United States attorneys."We call on the federal government not to interfere with our ability to control and regulate how medical marijuana is grown and distributed. Let us seek clarity rather than chaos. Don't force patients underground, to fuel the illegal drug market."Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author: Lee Romney, Joe Mozingo and John HoeffelPublished: April 4, 2012Copyright: 2012 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #13 posted by Canis420 on April 07, 2012 at 01:04:25 PT:
In my view his admin did go back on his word. Ogden memo said they would not go after ppl in unambigouous compliance with state law. What justifies the justice Dept (AG"s) sending threatening letters. What justifies the ATF sayin MMJ card holders cant own firearms. What justifies the feds closing businesses within arbitrary distances from schools. And then there is the IRS. Freakin smoke screen. Im really pissed off at the feds...and POTUS. Where is the policy based on science?
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Comment #12 posted by Storm Crow on April 06, 2012 at 07:22:07 PT
Do the Obama advisors read the NY Times? 
"Obama's advisers may be betting that a tough-on-pot stance will shore up the president's support among seniors in November"I think they have forgotten this little article! might do better to shore up Obama's rating with the youth vote by offering legalization! 
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on April 05, 2012 at 16:40:39 PT
I know what you mean. I never expect anything and am pleasantly surprised when something better happens. That way I am not disappointed. A basic right we should have is health care and it has been vilified. If we can't even get health care fixed then cannabis isn't going to be fixed easily. There are too many angry right wing folks out there to fight us until the end.
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on April 05, 2012 at 15:43:59 PT
I know.
But many people are just disappointed and they can't help that and especially since they voted for him, they want to complain. I don't think anyone is saying that "He said he would" do anything about it. They just hoped and I did, too. I've hoped it of every President. Every one of them disappointed me. I'm disappointed in Obama, too, but I knew better than to put a lot of stock in my dear hope for him ending prohibition or trying to. It would have been a pure amazing miracle if he'd actually stepped up and done something about it. It's easy to understand why he wouldn't. He's a politician and he's got to be pleasing as many people, especially powerful people, as he can. We and our cause aren't really on the powerful, super respected side of things... we're just right. And getting really impatient with being so mind numbingly patient. But we've had to be. We're the ones that don't anyone else hurt or killed. That's why we're patient. But it's not easy... and we are going to gripe, even if we aren't violent. We're going to complain a lot. Someone has to.I expect he will win again but I don't know. There are a lot of people who dislike him beyond reason in my opinion. He still has many people that appreciate him, though, and a lot of people that consider him the lesser of the evils... so we'll just have to wait and see.But no, people know he didn't promise or anything, they just hoped. "Change" and all, you know?
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on April 05, 2012 at 13:15:12 PT
He is cool but he is the POTUS and he can't just change the law. 
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on April 05, 2012 at 13:13:52 PT
I believe in having hope but I know I don't want anyone to think I said something I didn't say. I wish he had done more but I only expect that he honor what he said. The next 4 years could bring more change when there is nothing to lose. 
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on April 05, 2012 at 11:17:40 PT
He seemed cooler about the situation than most.
Obviously not as cool as we hoped.
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on April 05, 2012 at 11:15:41 PT
We just hoped so much that he would stand up and right some of the wrongs as soon as possible.Hope dashed is a fearful thing. Worse, maybe, than "A woman scorned".
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Comment #5 posted by afterburner on April 05, 2012 at 10:18:35 PT
Way Off Topic, but Not in a Love & Life View
Douglas Anthony Cooper.
Novelist, Amnesia (See: Blogger Mortis).
Ingrid Newkirk's Death Wish.
Posted: 04/ 5/2012 10:11 am.
Read more Ingrid Newkirk Peta , Newkirk Peta , Animal Peta Kill , Kill Animal Peta , Peta Ingrid Newkirk , Peta Newkirk , Peta Kill Animal , Canada News of pets extended to humans: sounds much like the Prohibitionists' wet dream of a cannabis-free world!Love Life, suffering and all!
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on April 05, 2012 at 05:53:37 PT
My Thoughts
Every time I have asked on CNews when did Obama say Pot Shops would be left alone no one can show me a quote so I could jump on the bandwagon and get angry and blame him.Has President Obama busted individuals in states with medical marijuana laws that follow what the law says? I haven't seen that he broke that promise.
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on April 04, 2012 at 20:35:44 PT
So true, John Tyler. So true.
"... in the meantime real people are getting hurt. What about them?"It's so cruel. So wrong.
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on April 04, 2012 at 19:20:19 PT
why the change
Here is an article from Rolling Stone magazine (Feb 16 2012) that might explain the Obama administration present turn against cannabis. It is a political campaign maneuver. 
“The administration's retreat on medical pot is certainly consistent with its broader election-year strategy of seeking to outflank Republicans on everything from free trade to offshore drilling. Obama's advisers may be betting that a tough-on-pot stance will shore up the president's support among seniors in November, as well as voters in Southern swing states like Virginia and North Carolina that are less favorable to drug reform.” Read more: sad thing is though is that this could be a political maneuver and in the second term real progress will be made to end prohibition, but in the meantime real people are getting hurt. What about them? 
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on April 04, 2012 at 10:08:38 PT
The Mousefart prefers line of least resistance!
Here we have big bad paramilitary useful idiots. It is the same as this; They would rather knock over a candy store and confiscate all the candy and money rather than roust a biker bar, arresting pedofiles, big time hard drug dealers, extortion, rape and murder.They would get their little urban butts kicked!
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