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CannaBiz: Department of Justice sends top-down clarification on MMJ policy 

The man strikes back

In the face of a flurry of recently issued memos by individual state U.S. Attorneys, the Department of Justice sent out a top-down clarification of its overall policy toward medical marijuana, first by speaking to the 2009 memo that's purported to have set the entire craze off.

"The Ogden Memorandum was never intended to shield such activities from federal enforcement action and prosecution, even where those activities purport to comply with state law," wrote Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole to his attorneys June 29, referencing large-scale marijuana distribution centers. "Persons who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law.

"Consistent with resource constraints and the discretion you may exercise in your district, such persons are subject to federal enforcement action, including prosecution."

The memo has activists scrambling: "Our community is on red alert," writes Americans for Safe Access in its newsletter. "ASA suggest that everyone revisits their emergency response plans, and if you do not have one, now is the time."

A spokesman for MMJ champion and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis told Westword that the congressman didn't think much would change: "The [new] memo doesn't seem to alter the Ogden memo significantly," said Chris Fitzgerald.

Suit back up

Bouncing back from a decision by the Colorado Supreme Court not to hear their case before it went through lower courts, Kathleen Chippi and the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project, among others, filed suit in Denver District Court last week to overturn portions of legislation passed in the previous two years.

House bills 1284 and 1043 are the suit's focus. "The goal of the lawsuit is to restore constitutional protection that patients and caregivers enjoyed prior to the passage of these new laws," says a statement.

Though Chippi didn't return a phone call, she did say this in the release: "The state cannot deny patients their constitutional rights by forcing them to purchase medicine at a retail marijuana store and give up all their confidentiality rights."

Just checkin'

Curious as to whether the Colorado Springs City Clerk's office had been pressured by other city departments to pad its MMJ fees, we sent an open records request for e-mails between departments. The response: "I am unaware of any communications with [all city departments]," e-mailed deputy city clerk Cindy Conway.

  • Also: Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project files new suit.

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