January 19, 2013
State marijuana legalization realities: "Obama's promise could send you to prison"The title of this post is drawn from this new column by Debra Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle. Here are excerpts:
Like a lot of Californians, Stockton businessman Matt Davies, 34, expected that when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the new administration would not prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries operating under a law passed by California voters in 1996. After all, as a candidate, Obama contended that he saw federal enforcement against medical marijuana as a waste of resources.
On Oct. 19, 2009, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden released a memo that instructed the Department of Justice not to focus federal resources "on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana." Davies took that memo as a green light to join the "green rush" and use his MBA expertise to run a taxpaying enterprise to distribute what he refers to as "medicine" to sick people.
Now that he faces a minimum sentence of seven years in prison if he pleads guilty, the father of two understands that he should have read the memo more carefully. "Looking back and reading that now, you can drive a Mack truck through that," Davies told me in a meeting with his wife Molly and attorney Steven Ragland....
Davies says his grandfather died a painful death from stomach cancer. He wanted to help others avoid excruciating pain. But he also had seen people run dispensaries the wrong way — for example, not paying their fair share of taxes — and he thought his experience running a bistro and property-management firm would enable him to show how medical marijuana dispensing could be done right....
Paradise started to crumble on Sept. 22, 2011, when a burglar alarm went off. A CHP officer stopped Davies and partner Lynn Smith, and Davies told the officer that the two were on their way to check on a Sacramento facility where they stored marijuana. In July, when a grand jury returned a two-count indictment for cultivating marijuana against Davies, Smith and Robert Duncan, 29, federal prosecutors reported that Davies' candor with the CHP started an investigation....
Seen in another light, however, Davies argued, his honesty shows that he believed his Medizen Collective was legit.... "It didn't used to be a crime to believe your government," attorney Ragland intoned.
Davies' other crime is standing up to federal prosecutors' excesses. Davies' two co-defendants are pleading guilty in return for expected terms of three and five years. But Eastern District of California U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner proposed a seven-year minimum sentence for Davies. Wagner even wrote that seven years would be "extremely lenient" in light of Davies' "very significant commercial operation." One of Davies' several dispensaries alone grossed more than $3 million annually.
Davies' attorneys have appealed to Attorney General Eric Holder to stop this travesty. On probation, Davies could continue to meet the payroll for his other businesses. He could pay taxes and contribute to Stockton's ailing economy.
In prison, Davies can serve as a testament to one truth alone: When you believe a politician, read the fine print.
A few recent and older related posts:
- Are there constitutional limits on severe mandatory federal punishments for those complying with state marijuana laws?
- Will there be a "constitutional showdown" if a state legalizes pot? And would that be so bad?
- Timely new Cato policy analysis on federal supremacy and pot prohibition reform
- "Will the Feds Crack Down on Pot or Look the Other Way?"
- "California inspired — and now inspired by — other states' marijuana legalization measures"
- Effective review and criticisms of modern big-government criminal justice in "The Power Of The Prosecutor"
- Intriguing new comments from President Obama on federal pot prohibition policy
January 19, 2013 at 03:14 PM | Permalink
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Sad and pathetic.
Shame on the federal government.
Posted by: Scarlett Rose | Jan 19, 2013 5:27:21 PM
Another problems is talking to law enforcement. Any encounter is fraught with danger, as this case, and the Reese family gun prosecution in New Mexico shows...
Posted by: folly | Jan 20, 2013 9:53:58 AM
Former United States of America's Crimnal Govt lied though it's teeth AGAIN!
The big question is "Is anyone suprised?"
Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 20, 2013 9:53:01 PM