State Lawmakers to Federal Government, U.S. Attorneys: Ease Up on Medical Cannabis

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Public officials from five states with medical marijuana laws are criticizing the recent federal “hostility” toward the cannabis community, saying in an open letter to the government that threats by some U.S. attorneys could “push medical marijuana activity back into the illicit market.”

The letter offers some more high-level support for the medical marijuana industry as the federal government expands its crackdown on MMJ. A growing number of state and local lawmakers are publicly backing medical marijuana, lending a hefty dose of credibility to the cause.

The chorus is growing louder as the federal government becomes more aggressive and enters a new phase in the crackdown. Yesterday, law enforcement and Internal Revenue Service agents raided the medical cannabis cultivation school Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California, and detained its founder, Richard Lee. Until now, the government has primarily targeted dispensaries and grow operations.

The letter includes the signatures of lawmakers from California, Colorado, Maine, New Mexico and Washington. All of those states have laws that approve the use and distribution of medical cannabis.

The elected officials accuse the Obama administration of sending mixed messages by at first promising to respect states’ rights in terms of medical marijuana but then aggressively cracking down on the industry over the past year. They also take issue with the veiled threat by several U.S. attorneys that state employees working on MMJ issues could be prosecuted. Officials in some states – notably Washington and Delaware – have backtracked on medical marijuana in light of these threats, the letter says.

“We…call on state and local officials to not be intimidated by these empty federal threats,” the letter says. “Our state medical marijuana programs should be implemented and move forward. Our work, and the will of our voters, should see the light of day.”

Here’s the list of officials who signed the letter: California Assembly Members Tom Ammiano and Chris Norby, Washington Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, New Mexico Rep. Antonio Maestas and Sen. Cisco McSorley, Maine Rep. Deborah Sanderson and Colorado Sen. Pat Steadman.