Friday, May 16, 2014

Legislators want to keep DEA out of state MMJ

Posted By on Fri, May 16, 2014 at 3:32 PM

  • Steve Pepple/
Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Sam Farr, D-Calif., plan on introducing legislation that would prevent the DEA from using federal funds to raid legal medical marijuana businesses. NORML reported that Rohrabacher and Farr will introduce this measure as an amendment to the federal budget.

The DEA has raided locally legal medical marijuana retailers and growers in several states. Four sites tied to VIP Cannabis in Denver were raided April 30. These followed massive raids that took place on Nov. 21 last year.

According to an August 2013 memo from Deputy Attorney General James Cole, federal officers will only intervene in local marijuana business in eight cases: preventing distribution to minors; preventing marijuana money from going to criminal enterprises; preventing marijuana from entering states where it is prohibited; preventing marijuana from covering for the trafficking of other drugs; preventing violence in distribution or cultivation; preventing high driving and similar issues; preventing cultivation on public lands; and preventing possession on federal property. 

It was ultimately revealed by the Denver Post that VIP Cannabis has gotten attention for potential ties to Colombian drug cartels. VIP and other businesses raided in November were also under scrutiny for sketchy business practices, poor record-keeping and the like. Excepting VIP Cannabis, nobody was arrested or given a formal cease-and-desist notice as a result of November's raids.

Ties to Colombian drug cartels aside, Rohrabacher and Farr's budget amendment would probably keep the feds out. State authorities would, of course, still enforce all relevant legislation. But that ostensibly could be done without men in black body armor tearing doors out of their frames and confiscating all  cash and marijuana on the property.

This is not the first time Rohrabacher has introduced legislation that would block federally funded DEA raids of medical marijuana businesses. It is actually the seventh time. Rohrabacher, along with now-retired New York Rep. Maurice Hinchey, introduced a similar measure as a bill every year from 2003 through 2007. After Hinchey's retirement, Rohrabacher teamed up with Farr, who had also introduced it in 2004, to introduce the bill again in 2012. Each time, the bill has been defeated by around a 100-vote margin.

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