Rick Sallinger head shot

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger: this “hard-hitting investigative reporter” didn’t reveal his sources or care to elaborate for CC.

If Denver CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger is correct, “No Dispensaries Within 1,000 Feet of a School,” a California reality show which depicts US Attorneys “weeding out” pot businesses, is going on the road. And that road leads directly to the state where John Denver famously rhymed “I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky” with “Colorado rocky mountain high.”

“The dispensaries who [sic] are set to be targeted are the ones that are located within 1,000 feet of schools,” Sallinger claims. “That measurement is being used because the distance already appears in federal law as a factor in drug crime sentencing. Dispensaries that receive the letters will be given 45 days to shut down or move operations. If they don’t comply, they will be shut down by the U.S. Attorney in Colorado.”

As rumors swirl, a once sleepy cow town turned pot metropolis braces for an unseen assault. An inevitable outcome awaits dispensaries unlucky enough to be located 999 feet or less from schools, preschools, or daycare centers: extinction.

The quagga, an extinct animal

The Quagga is an extinct equine beast that was once abundant in southern Africa. Will Cannamart go the way of the Quagga?

Apparently certain Coloradoans unfazed by GMO food, the middle class’s demise, or our military presence in over 200 countries are plenty concerned about the proximity of medical marijuana care centers to tiny Tristan’s cradle of knowledge. Whatever.

However, the notion of infants toddling out of preschool, hellbent to exchange milk money for hash oil at the closest dispensary, is a fear — not a fact.

Fear or fact is irrelevant.

Ambitious US Attorneys, like Southern California’s Laura Duffy, believe with every fiber of their being that the danger is legitimate. With Mexican cartels literally tunneling their way from Tijuana into her district’s San Diego county —  stealthily importing assault weapons, heroin, cocaine, hookers, pot, illegal laborers, and explosives — it’s easy to comprehend how a how belief system like that develops.

If you were uncertain how serious Duffy was before, try this dagger-in-the-heart:

“The California marijuana industry is not about providing medicine to the sick,” said Duffy, the top federal prosecutor for California’s southern district, including San Diego. “It’s a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law. In addition to damaging our environment, this industry is creating significant negative consequences, in California and throughout the nation.

As the number one marijuana producing state in the country, California is exporting not just marijuana but all the serious repercussions that come with it, including significant public safety issues and perhaps irreparable harm to our youth.” —Laura Duffy, quoted in the San Diego Chronicle

Whew. If I owned a dispensary and I read that, especially the bit about causing “irreparable harm to our youth,” I’d break out in a cold sweat.

US Attorney Laura Duffy strikes a serious pose

US Attorney Laura Duffy: Serious as a heart attack.

I gather that in the interest of saving California’s best and brightest young minds, hundreds of dispensaries were shut down because they were located anywhere from one to 999 feet from a school or a daycare center.

I’ve seen some of those youths whose souls Laura Duffy set out to save. If they’re the future of our nation, let us pray space colonization is closer than it seems.

If Duffy has her way and the pot peril’s a thing of the past, for sure the previously imperiled offspring will revert back to wholesome family values recalling the Leave It To Beaver era quicker than you can say “my favorite Martian.” Uh-huh.

Didn’t anyone see this coming after all the posturing by the DEA and US Attorneys?

It would seem none of the sage legal minds counseling dispensaries advised them, “whatever you do, don’t set up shop within 1,000 of a school.” I guess $300/hr. doesn’t buy the same acumen it used to.

Pruning all those MMJ centers understandably inflamed the Golden State’s patients, dispensary personnel, and the attorneys compensated handsomely to represent them — even though no law school teaches fledgling legal eagles how to circumvent federal drugs laws currently carved in stone [see the Controlled Substances Act].

Catching a whiff of similar campaigns heading Colorado’s way, patient rights attorneys are already warming up their vocal chords with their favorite syllable: “me me me me.”

“The federal apparatus here has better things to do. The federal government is essentially declaring war on the voters of our state who passed a Constitutional amendment.” —Rob Corry, who represents dispensaries and Sensible Colorado, a coalition of attorneys for patient rights.

I appreciate the playful term, “federal apparatus.”

I’m not sure Corry’s supporters will appreciate the following playful commentary:

  1. It is also true that the voters of our state declared war on the Controlled Substances Act — which the DEA and US attorneys are sworn to uphold. Pot advocates’ purposes would have been infinitely better served had they declared war on federal prohibition. But attorneys like Corry and his curiously named Sensible Colorado organization [it’s missing the letters “i” and “n” in front of Sensible] eschewed the more functional tact. They went instead with an insensible plan that serves the needs of the few at the expense of the many. Wonder why? Could it be because steering the truly sensible course would have netted attorneys 0$/hr. instead of the customary $300/hr. they’ve been racking up since Colorado’s Amendment 20 was passed in 1998?
  2. Insensible Colorado attorneys like Corry led voters down the prickly path of medical marijuana, a path heavily patrolled by the DEA, US Attorneys, and US Marshalls — not to mention local and state authorities. All of the aforementioned entities just happen to have at their disposal a virtually unlimited supply of jail cells to house marijuana “offenders.” There’s a neon Vacancy sign lit up for targeted dispensary owners stubborn enough to ignore “1,000 feet away from a school” orders.
  3. It’s a fact that not everyone is comforted by the sight of dispensaries around schoolyards. When you live in a liberal zip code, it’s easy to forget how diametrically opposite the mindset can be in more conservative hoods. Or in hoods that don’t seem all that conservative, but nonetheless issue “get out of Dodge” ultimatums to dispensaries, anyway. Ft. Collins, a college town, and Paonia, organic farming paradise, spring to mind. Not everyone marches in lockstep with Attorney Corry’s patient-centric worldview. That includes card-carrying members of the movement to end prohibition who are incredulous that so many people devote so much effort to a cause which excludes just about everybody. Elitist patient rights organizations would have us believe they inhabit the moral high ground. Think again.
  4. The last big brouhaha over states rights was the Civil War. Southern states wanted to preserve slavery so badly that they seceded from the Union. Now MMJ states want to secede from federal prohibition without actually abolishing it. The Civil War’s aftershocks reverberated until MLK’s “I have a dream speech” finally brought voting equality in 1964. If Mr. Corry and state-by-state patients rights crusaders want to come down on the side of slavery and bigotry, that’s their prerogative. That said, now is about time for patient rights attorneys to quit speaking as if they represent every pro-pot advocate in America. They don’t. Perpetrating the myth that only the sick and dying deserve pot is a bigoted attitude that can’t be tolerated any longer. The sooner this thought process vanishes into the haze of history, the better.
  5. The people of Colorado voted for this exact situation, with its endless complexities and its clear challenge to federal drug laws — it was never forced on anyone. The option to repeal federal prohibition has always existed.
  6. Groups like Insensible Colorado persuaded voters to fight the battles which best serve the interest of attorneys, not citizens.
  7. Colorado attorneys promoting a bogus medical marijuana model [real medical marijuana is teams of qualified clinical researchers studying how the THC molecule can be tweaked to cure cancer, MS, diabetes, etc.] assume US Attorneys, the DEA, and federal judges will adopt a “hands off” attitude to the MMJ trade — thanks to the existence of a few non-binding memos. Alas, these memos make no claims that they’re anything more than “guidance.”  Yet the same patient rights attorneys advise their clients and interested parties to view these memos as if  they’re Presidential Orders or Acts of Congress. They’re not — in any way, shape, or form.

Prosecuting individuals who violate federal authority is what US Attorneys do. It’s what they’re supposed to do. It’s in their job descriptions. They’re paid to do it.

That leads us nicely to the US Attorney for Colorado Mr. Corry believes has better things to do with his apparatus, John F. Walsh III.

Walsh’s signature would set into motion a series of dispensary shutdowns guaranteed to ruffle feathers from Cripple Creek to Stem Beach.

John F. Walsh III, US Attorney for Colorado

US Attorney for Colorado John F. Walsh III: after successfully prosecuting the likes of Michael Milken and Charles Keating, he doesn’t need bongs and pot cotton candy to make or break his career.

At this point, you’re probably wondering: John F. Walsh  III … friend or foe?

Cannabis Commerce has been wondering the same thing. As luck would have it, I just got off the phone with Jeff Dorschner, Walsh’s media guy. Interview coming up in a few paragraphs. So, where does Walsh stand?

Let’s see, Stanford grad, worked for eight years in the LA US Attorney’s office, Chairman of Invest in Kids. Performed pro bono work in the past. Nominated by Obama. Sworn in by Attorney General Eric Holder. His bio, still up on former law firm Hill & Robbins’ site, tells us “Mr. Walsh was a member of many notable white collar investigations, including those of Charles Keating, Michael Milken, and Arizona Governor J. Fife Symington.”

Does a dossier like that hint at a less intense, more pot-tolerant individual than, say, fellow appointee Laura Duffy, who spent ten years in narcotics enforcement from 1997 to 2007?

Maybe. Maybe not.

A T-Rex dinosaur faces extinction

Extinction is a bitch.

Basically, if Walsh follows the protocol established by California’s four US Attorneys [the most populous states are divided into districts], in January, he’ll US Mail dispensary owners an initial “cease and desist” notice. Those served stubborn enough to ignore the initial order will receive spine-tingling “you haven’t abandoned your business after 45 days, so hand over all your assets to us” letters.

Ignoring the initial letter may not be the wisest course of action.

Challenges to the Denver-based US Attorney’s [as yet unofficial] position will encounter the US Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Gonzalez vs. Raich, as well as the recent 2010 Colorado case law established in US vs. Bartkowicz. These decisions reinforce the longstanding position that federal law trumps state law in MMJ cases. Period.

The only sensible option for unlucky dispensary owners who receive cease and desist notices is walking away. Something tells me Mr. Corry won’t be waiving his fee to take cases on a contingency basis.

Patient rights demonstration for their meds in Portland, Oregon

Outrage in California: but do they only have themselves to blame?

By the way, there’s a third component of the “federal apparatus” which interacts with the DEA and the US Attorney: the US District Court, and the federal judges who try its cases.

In the Bartkowicz case, federal judge Philip Brimmer ruled that defendant Chris Bartkowicz could not present a medical marijuana defense at his trial for running a suburban grow house, to wit:

“Anyone reading [the Ogden and Cole memos] would quite clearly understand that cultivating marijuana is a violation of federal law and that this guidance regarding resource allocation does not … provide a legal defense to a violation of federal law.”

That’s not cryptic. Judge Brimmer doesn’t write like a man torn by indecision.

On the surface, the DEA, US attorneys, and federal judges having and exercising this level of control over a state’s medical marijuana “industry” might seem like a dismal proposition.

And it is — that is, if you’re brainwashed by the media, patient rights groups, and patients rights attorneys, and you haven’t come around to the realization that repealing prohibition is the war we should have been fighting all along.

People unaccustomed to facing reality may have difficulty recognizing this clash for what it is: a desperately needed wakeup call for pot activists. Your crash course is here.

US Attorney Laura Duffey at a podium announcing the uncovering of a drug tunnel between Tijuana and a San Diego warehouse

Laura Duffy may be intense, but she’s never boring. Here she announces the discovery of a drug tunnel connecting this San Diego warehouse to Tijuana. Before becoming a US Attorney, Ms. Duffy prosecuted Mexican cartels. Contrast that with Colorado US Attorney John F. Walsh’s background prosecuting white collar crime. US Attorneys have “wide discretion” to allocate each district’s resources.

Cannabis Commerce talks to the Colorado US Attorney’s office

Earlier this month, we got the DEA Denver Field Office’s position on coexistence with dispensaries and “patients” straight from the horse’s mouth.

Now, venturing ever deeper into “the dark side,” Cannabis Commerce — about the only pro-pot publication that actively solicits opposing viewpoints— caught up with Jeff Dorschner, John F. Walsh’s media guy.

I wish I could play up this conversation as something sensational. It wasn’t. It was about as dry as it gets. Nonetheless, it got me thinking about about the role of private attorneys in advancing statewide MMJ initiatives at the expense of repealing federal prohibition.

And it was certainly helpful in clarifying Mr. Walsh’s position.

CC= Lory Kohn for Cannabis Commerce; US = Jeff Dorschner for US Attorney John F Walsh’s office.

CC:  We hear a lot about the Ogden and Cole memos issued by the Department of Justice. These memos state that prosecuting “offenders” in compliance with state MMJ regulations may not be the best use of federal resources. Just how binding is a “memo?”

US:  Memos provide guidance. There’s nothing binding about them. They are important in that they help provide direction. The language in a memo is sufficiently vague because each district is different. Each US attorney has wide discretion to interpret memos in their jurisdiction. But they are important, as any guidance from Washington is important.

CC:  Colorado Amendment 20, which authorized medical marijuana in Colorado, is often said to be “etched into the state constitution” — unlike MMJ regulations in other states. Does that have any effect on how your office operates?

US:  Not at all.

CC:  What about the fact that California is a not-for-profit MMJ state while Colorado is a for-profit state?

US:  It has no effect. It does not change how we operate.

The Greater Bamboo Lemur chewing a stalk is on the extinction watch

The Greater Bamboo Lemur is on the extinction watch. There are only about 200 of them left. Will there even be 200 dispensaries left in Cannafornia and Cannarado?

CC:  You mentioned that you read the Cannabis Commerce interview with DEA special agent Mike Turner and that you basically concur with the positions he stated.

US:  True.

We’ve said consistently that the focus of this office is generally large scale distribution organizations for any controlled substance, including marijuana. —Jeff Dorschner, US Attorney John F. Walsh’s media guy.

CC:  So your office has some leeway to deal with dispensaries as it best deems fit?

US:  Yes, although we rely on guidance from DC and the discretion of the US Attorney General [Eric Holder]. But I want to reiterate two important points:

  • Possession with intent to distribute marijuana is a violation of federal law.
  • The US Atttorney’s office generally focuses on large scale distribution or cultivation operations — although there are exceptions, as spelled out in the [Ogden and Cole] memos we discussed earlier.

CC:   What other criminal activities does your office prosecute?

US:  Immigrations violations, illegal firearms cases, aliens previously convicted of a crime, white collar crime including Ponzi schemes, illegal drug distribution (meth, cocaine, heroin, etc.), counterfeit drug cases, child pornography, and mail theft to name a few.

CC:  How many attorneys work in your office?

US:  Seventy.

CC:  What other “alphabet agencies” does your office work in conjunction with?

US:  In addition to the DEA, US Attorneys also work with the FBI, the Secret Service, the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives] U.S. Marshals, ICE [US Immigration and Customs Enforcement], Postal Inspectors, IRS or any federal law enforcement agency. US Attorneys have a lot of discretion to balance the interest of all agencies.

CC:  Why does the DEA and not the FDA have sole authority to schedule drugs?

US:  I’m not in a position to thoroughly answer this question.

CC:  Is there anything else you feel Mr. Walsh might want to convey to concerned Coloradoans?

US:  If you want to know more about Mr. Walsh’s specific policy, I would point you to his letter to Colorado Attorney General John Summers.

US Attorney Walsh advises Colorado Attorney General John Summers

Let’s examine a few highlights from the April, 2011 Walsh > Summers letter. The letter addresses Mr. Summers’ concerns about the impending State of Colorado HB 1043 which called for an expanded MMJ footprint within the state:

While the Department does not focus its limited resources on seriously ill individuals who use marijuana as part of a medically recommended treatment in compliance with state law as stated in the Ogden Memo, we maintain the authority to enforce the CSA [Controlled Substances Act] vigorously against individuals and organizations who participate in unlawful manufacturing and distributing activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law. The Department’s investigative and prosecutorial resources will continue to be directed toward those objectives. —Denver-based US Attorney John F.  Walsh III.

This statement suggests Mr. Walsh accepts marijuana’s value as a medicine in certain incidences. That’s unexpected. According to DEA sources, a primary rationale for classifying marijuana as a Schedule One drug is that “it has no medicinal value.”

Mary Beth Buchanan who almost made a career case entrapping Tommy Chong in Operation Pipe Dreams poses with then Attorney General John Ashcroft

Then US Attorney for Western Pennsylvania Mary Beth Buchanan about to be rewarded by then US Attorney General John Ashcroft for entrapping Tommy Chong in “Operation Pipe Dreams.” It is unlikely that any Attorney General in US history has been any less committed to individual liberty than John Ashcroft. Without Ashcroft playing wing man, Ms. Buchanan’s career has stalled.

One could view a tolerant statement like that as a sign that Mr. Walsh is less gung-ho than the former US Attorney for Western Pennsylvanic, Mary Bath Buchanan, who made a career case out of Tommy Chong’s bongs, or Southern California’s Laura Duffy, who spectacularly turned pot cotton into a cause célèbre.

You’ll recall that US Attorneys are granted “wide discretion” to allocate resources within their districts. So, Mr. Walsh is entitled to handle matters less heavyhandedly in Colorado —which isn’t to imply that he will. He continues:

It is well settled that a State cannot authorize violations of federal law. The United States District Court for Colorado recently reaffirmed this fundamental principle of our constitutional system in United States vs. Bartkowitz when it held that Colorado State law on medical marijuana does not and cannot alter federal law’s prohibition on the manufacture, distribution, or possession of marijuana, or provide a defense to prosecution under federal law for such activities.

Cannabis Commerce could not agree more with Mr. Walsh’s position regarding the supremacy of federal prohibition over statewide MMJ amendments. I want to extend a personal thanks for pointing out where every pro-pot advocate should train his or her attention. Bitching and moaning over perceived slights for the next hundred years will not achieve their aims — though the extra income should come in handy for patient rights attorneys. I hear those country club memberships can get pricey.

Mr. Walsh gets to the crux of the issue:

The terms of HB 1043 would authorize Colorado state licensing of “medical marijuana infused product” facilities with up to 500 plants, with the  possibility of licensing even larger facilities, with no stated limit, with a state-granted waiver based on consideration of broad factors such as “business need.” The Department [of Justice] would consider civil actions and criminal prosecution regarding those who set up marijuana growing facilities, as well as property owners [landlords], as they will be operating in violation of federal law.

In other words, for the time being, we can nix large scale industrial grow operations such as the city of Oakland [so progressively] envisioned. C’est la vie. Now, I read the preceding paragraph, and, although plenty of counterarguments could be advanced, two words pop into my brain. These powerful words may as well be sprayed in skywriting: “Repeal Prohibition.” Result = problem solved. Unfortunately, most “activists” reading the same words think, “Now we have to fight even harder for medical marijuana.”

That would be a variation on the theme, “let’s continue to do what’s not working harder.”

Which makes one of the following two statements true:

  • I’m insane for being the lone voice in the wilderness promoting the repeal of prohibition.
  • Patient rights groups are insane for not realizing that repealing prohibition gets them every single thing they ever hoped for while statewide MMJ gets caregivers thrown out onto the street.

Time will tell.

Mr. Walsh takes it home:

As the [US] Attorney General has repeatedly stated, the DOJ remains firmly committed to enforcing the federal law and the Controlled Substances Act in all states. Thus, if the provisions of HB 1043 are enacted and become law, the Department will continue to carefully consider all appropriate civil and criminal legal remedies to prevent manufacture and distribution of marijuana and other associated violations of federal law, including injunctive actions; civil penalties; criminal prosecution; and the forfeiture of any property used to facilitate a violation of federal law, including the Controlled Substances Act. I hope this letter assists the State of Colorado and its potential  licensees in making informed decisions regarding the cultivation, manufacture, and distribution of marijuana, as well as related financial transactions.

I don’t have to read between the lines. That’s about as straightforward as it gets.

Regarding those “related financial transactions” Attorney Walsh referred to, for those of you considering investing dollar one into an MMJ business, there was one telling exchange with DEA Special Agent Mike Turner that I didn’t include in The DEA Calling. At the time, I reasoned it would bring too many people down.

Because it speaks volumes, I’ll offer it here:

Q:  “If you had a message to people in the medical marijuana industry, what would it be?”

A:  “I would advise them to get out of the business right now. It’s not worth it.”

That’s gonna be the way of the world until pot prohibition is repealed. Not “decriminalized.” Not “OK in sixteen states, sort of.” That’s repealed as in gone for good or as extinct as a shuttered dispensary.

The Yangtze Dolphi swimming in this picture is the most endangered cetacean in the world.

The Yangtze Dolphin is the most endangered cetacean in the world. It may already be extinct.

On an optimistic note, there’s a quantifiable difference between Mr. Walsh’s calm and measured tone and Ms. Duffy’s hyperbole-laden verbiage that harkens back to 1934’s Reefer Madness.

Was Ms. Duffy referring to irreparable harm to youths like … Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Copious pot intake didn’t hinder “The Austrian Oak” from becoming Mr. Olympia six times, The Most Famous Action Star on the Planet for a decade, or Republican “Governator” of The Golden State even though he was married to a Kennedy.

arnold schwarzenegge smoking marijuana wee in a t-shirt and looking pretty baked

“I forget . . . is Catalina a territory of the United States?”

It didn’t seem to hold back Jesse Ventura from becoming Governor of Minnesota or a bestselling author— even though he was dropped on his head more times than anyone can count as a megastar of Worldwide Wrestling.

Jesse Ventura before he was governor being interviewed by Vince McMahon for Worldwide Wrestling

“No, Vince, I am not in favor of restricted, state-by-state medical marijuana amendments. I’m a repeal prohibition man all the way.”

It didn’t seem to hold the Beatles back from recording Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, a recording which may or may not be in MS Duffy’s CD collection. If her collection excludes pop music recorded by musicians weaned on the magical herb, it’s a pretty small collection.

Paul McCarney without a shirt rolling a doobie

Without the light of Jah, this tunesmith might not be a Knight of the British Empire.

Or Mr. Obama from being sworn in as 43rd President of the United States. But I digress.

Candidate Barrack Obama speaks at a Colorado High School in 2008

The author had a birds-eye view of candidate Obama back in 2008. Coincidentally, the day Mr. Obama made a scheduled stop at this suburban high school, he kept the crowd waiting for more than an hour because word had just gotten out just how bad the financial crisis was. He had to change his prepared speech to address it. Question: Why hasn’t it occurred to this intelligent man that cannabis is the shining economic star twinkling on the horizon?

While Mr. Walsh’s firm, yet levelheaded tone looks way less terrifying on paper, there’s no guarantee he’ll be any more merciful than his combative San Diego counterpart if and when push comes to shove.

First volley fired: ASA attorney sues US Attorneys

ASA attorney Joe Elford

Cruising for a bruising? “The feds can’t tell California what to do.” —ASA attorney Joe Elford.

Suing the United States of America has seldom been a propitious course of action for rights groups attempting to effect paradigm change.

Nonetheless, ASA [Americans for Safe Access], with a long and storied history of ignoring common sense — not to mention the lessons of history — has thrown down the gauntlet.

It enters the fray with a typically self-righteous initial filing.

ASA vs. Holder & Haag [US Attorney General Eric Holder and Melinda Haag, US Attorney for the Northern District of California] is a sixteen-page burst of bravado filed 10/27/2011 with the United States District Court for Northern California in San Francisco.

Find it here: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/ASA_v_Holder.pdf

This is one organization that “The plaintiffs” excel at devising new and innovative ways to  shoot themselves in the foot. By way of example, I give you excerpts from ASA attorney Joe Elford’s press conference publicizing his harikari mission:

[The Obama administration has] “instituted a policy to dismantle the medical marijuana laws of the state of California and to coerce its municipalities to pass bans on medical marijuana dispensaries … The 10th Amendment bars it [the federal government] from using coercive tactics to commandeer the lawmaking functions of the state … The case is aimed at restoring the sovereign and Constitutional right of the state to establish its own public health laws based on the country’s federalist principles … The short of it is, the feds can’t tell California what to do.” —Joe Elford, ASA attorney, as reported by The San Diego Chronicle.

Really? That’s like a lawyer representing Alabama plantation owners suing Abraham Lincoln for putting an end to slavery. After all, “the practice has been vital to the Southern economy for hundreds of years,” and “threatening the noble institution of human trafficking is insensitive,” while “the maligned plantation owners would be forced onto the street, their very livelihoods snatched away.”

If ASA’s position is correct, and the State of California sought to reestablish slavery, it could, cause “the feds can’t tell California what to do.” Hmm. Here’s indisputable evidence that a vertebrate with no common sense whatsoever passed the bar exam.

[Update 1/8/2012: According to the uncommonly comical ASA newsletter, Elford has tempered his remarks to, “Medical cannabis patients are not exempt from federal laws, but the 10th Amendment forbids the federal government from using coercive tactics to commandeer the law-making functions of the state.” Good luck proving “coercive tactics” have “commandeered” anything.]

Filing this lawsuit means that ASA has bypassed the concept of Jeffersonian equality to fight for the rights of a privileged special interest group. Doesn’t that tact trample the very Constitutional guarantees its lawsuit cites?

Oh. I forgot. I’m supposed to be outraged at the US Attorneys, not ASA and Insensible Colorado. Guess my brainwashing has not yet taken hold. Or maybe my body just hasn’t been snatched yet.

Another one of my favorite organizations was next up on the soapbox.

“It’s a really cowardly policy to again go after property,” said Dale Gieringer, director Cal NORML, which advocates for the legalization of marijuana. “And it makes a mockery of the Obama administration’s promise to respect state medical marijuana laws.”

Reaction #1: Your organization, NORML, has made a mockery out of marijuana legalization. “Legalize it” meant all marijuana — medical, recreational, industrial — for all of the people, all of the time, not medical marijuana for some of the people, in some places, some of the time.

Reaction #2: Cowardly? That’s quite an accusation coming from these gutless wimps. After decades of incompetence, NORML hasn’t even made a dent against prohibition.

Now NORML claims it’s actually accomplished something by piggybacking on the “accomplishments” of patients rights groups. Unfortunately, all “wins” to date in statewide MMJ referendums have rewarded the lucky victors with balls and chains. Name me one conspicuous, mediagenic rally NORML has ever staged. No one can. But 45,000 people have been thrown into prison on its watch.

This most recent mess came about because NORML, despite being the activist group that’s been around the longest and funded the deepest, has proven itself utterly incapable of providing the pro-pot movement with effective leadership. It has displayed neither the aptitude nor the instinct for allying with other like-minded groups to work together toward a common goal. At least ASA has a definable direction. One day NORML is all about repealing prohibition. The next day it’s all for medical marijuana. Which is it?

Quick — who’s the head of NORML? Let’s just say Martin Luther King’s ghost has not been resurrected as Allen St. Pierre. St. Pierre’s brilliant stratagem to collect electronic signatures to protest the US Attorneys’ actions tells you everything you need to know about how NORML operates. That would be in the virtual sphere, when every successful protest movement that came before it proved that if you want to capture the nation’s attention, you stage massive demonstrations on the Capital Mall. I’m talking about an actual assemblage of rankled human flesh that’s impossible to ignore, not electronic signatures easily flushed into the void by clicking Delete.

Reaction #3: Promise? Memos are not “promises.” They provide guidance, as the US Attorney clearly stated. Law may be guidance, but guidance is not law. Maybe patient rights attorneys can successfully challenge federal law. Good luck successfully challenging federal guidance.

The laments of ASA and NORML ignore several pertinent facts:

  • The city of San Diego wanted its dispensaries g-o-n-e.
  • Whether they’re “right” or “wrong,” plenty of citizens groups are concerned with the prevalence of dispensaries in their neighborhoods — especially when they sprout up around schools. Defendants can parade any number of credible witnesses to the stand in support of its case.

Does this guy sound like the feds put a gun to his head?

“More and more cities and counties around the state have seen through the ‘medicinal’ smoke screen and have opted not to allow pot shops.” —Scott Chipman, chairman of San Diegans for Safe Neighborhoods.

Passing California Amendment 215 guaranteed clashes like this will be ongoing. Passing any comparable amendment anywhere else guarantees the same thing.

The pro-marijuana movement would be far better of if the money spent on ASA’s lawsuit was allocated toward requisitioning every Port-O-Potty on the Eastern seaboard for Marijuanamarch 2012 in DC.

Who will emerge victorious from the legal mismatch of the century? Technically, the US Attorneys. But really, under prohibition, everyone loses, regardless of their affiliation.

Corry vs. Walsh on the horizon?

Denver pot attorney rob corry

Attorney Rob Corry represents some of The Mile High City’s finest dispensaries.

If the Colorado US Attorney mimics the actions of his California counterparts, will Insensible Colorado’s Rob Corry mimic the actions of ASA’s Joe Elford by taking on John F. Walsh III in Denver’s Federal District Court?

I don’t know how much fun that would be for the participants, but I’d sure be up for it.

My aunt, Theo Wilson, was arguably the more celebrated trial reporter of the twentieth century. She covered the trials of Jack Ruby, Charles Manson, the Boston Strangler, Sirhan Sirhan, Patti Hearst, Daniel Ellsberg, John DeLorean, and others for The New York Daily News. I’m optimistic some of that DNA made it into my genes. So, sure, let’s get ready to rumble.

Should legal hostilities ensue, I have no doubt the media will turn to Corry for commentary. I have no doubt he’ll rise to the occasion with a torrent of passionate prose.

What I doubt is that he’ll actually file papers.

To paraphrase Clint Eastwood, “Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya Rob?”


If one-tenth of all the energy that’s been expended on statewide MMJ amendments —at the behest of the likes of attorney groups like Insensible Colorado — had been poured into a united front to topple federal prohibition, there would be a hundred times more cannajobs, sixty times more cannatax [for openers], and 10,000% higher contribution to GDP today.

That’s cannabis commerce in action.

Allow me to sum up the present situation so simply a four-year old could understand it:

  1. The problem is not how US Attorneys and the DEA interpret the absurd pot laws already on the books; the problem is the existence of the laws themselves.
  2. All state-by-state medical marijuana initiatives fly in the face of federal drug laws. Voting for state-by-state marijuana initiatives is a deal with the devil. Doing that cements the federal drug laws in place. Chaos is insured whenever local and state laws clash with federal law.
  3. It’s insane to keep hoping things will change — as in no harassment for dispensaries, and no threat to “safe access” — without changing federal laws via repealing prohibition.
  4. Next to no one is talking about repealing prohibition. The media, patients rights groups, and attorneys representing patient rights groups propagandize that your choice is between medical marijuana state-by-state and nothing. That’s BS. Your third and best choice is repealing prohibition — the choice private sector attorneys make nothing from promoting. So they don’t even bring it up as a possibility.
  5. Patient rights attorneys have done way more to harm the cause of ending prohibition than US Attorneys.
  6. Repealing federal prohibition solves every problem affecting patient rights groups — with the added bonus of making pot legal for everyone else too. Of course, that opens the floodgates for cannabis commerce, too. Patient rights groups and their attorneys are blind to these clear advantages. I’m only an amateur psychologist, so I can’t explain it. Freud or Jung could would have a hard time, too.
  7. Therefore, the time has come to cut everybody’s MMJ losses and effect the repeal of prohibition.
  8. There is one and only one time-honored method to “effect the repeal of prohibition.” Marching on Washington a half million strong oughta do the trick. That blueprint that has worked for every disenfranchised group savvy enough to follow it [which excludes ASA, NORML, and Insensible Colorado]. In case you’re unsure whether that’s a personal opinion or a fact, Google “March on Washington” and decide for yourself.

[Update 2/3/2012: About twenty-five dispensaries received letters from Mr. Walsh. His office hinted this wasn’t necessarily the end of it . . . but there were no press conferences with flashy exhibits of confiscated bongs or pot cotton candy. Volatile rhetoric like “the devil’s weed is causing irreparable harm to our youth” was carefully avoided.]

[Update 11/22/2012: Regarding #4 above, a fourth option was introduced and passed in Colorado and Washington — regulating marijuana like alcohol and tobacco. Everyone but me is ga-ga over these “victories.” When you can buy a warehouse full of tobacco or booze and you can only buy one ounce of marijuana, how can anyone say pot’s regulated like those substances? More on this to follow.]

Confining the marijuana industry to a cottage industry causes irreparable harm to our adults.  —Lory Kohn