Obama Met With San Francisco Medical Marijuana Protest [FEATURE]

Hundreds of angry medical marijuana patients and supporters gathered in San Francisco's South of Market Tuesday to greet President Obama as he appeared at a $5,000 a head fundraiser at the W Hotel. They were joined by hundreds of other protestors, mainly Occupy San Francisco members and environmentalists upset with the Keystone pipeline.

Boisterous crowds tried to send the president a message in San Francisco (Image: Phil Smith)
The president never saw the demonstrators -- he entered the building through a back entrance a block away from where protestors had gathered -- but boisterous chants of "DEA, Go Away!" and "Whose State? Our State! Whose Medicine? Our medicine!" echoed through the streets as police watched impassively.

It was the second straight day of medical marijuana protests aimed at the president. He got similar treatment Monday in Los Angeles.

The California medical marijuana community is upset with the president over what it sees as a multi-pronged attack on medical marijuana production and distribution by agencies of the federal government (sometimes in cahoots with recalcitrant local officials). Despite Obama's campaign pledges and the Department of Justice's October 2009 memo directing federal prosecutors to back off from medical marijuana businesses operating in compliance with state law, the pace of DEA raids has only accelerated since he took office in January 2009.

It's not just the DEA. The Department of the Treasury has been going after financial institutions that do business with the medical marijuana industry, forcing banks to submit to onerous record-keeping of their dealings and persuading some of them to drop their medical marijuana customers. Similarly, the IRS has joined the attack, refusing to allow dispensaries to deduct standard business expenses and hitting them with whopping past due tax bills.

Most recently, the four US Attorneys who cover California held a much ballyhooed press conference in Sacramento announcing that they were going after what they described as an industry out of control. They announced a campaign aimed at dispensary and grow operations landlords, sending out a wave of letters threatening property owners with asset forfeiture and even stiff criminal charges if they don't throw out their clients.

But while the feds say they are targeting people who abuse the system  for profit, they have recently gone after some of the most respected, regulated and compliant operations in the state. Steve De Angelo's Harborside Health Center in Oakland is the biggest target of the IRS and was recently handed a $2 million tax bill after its expenses were disallowed; Lynette Shaw's Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana is the longest-licensed dispensary in the state and enjoys impeccable relations with local officials, but its landlord was hit with a threat letter; and Matt Cohen's Northstone Organics Cooperative is the first licensed grow -- with every plant tagged -- under Mendocino County's cutting edge regulatory scheme, but was raided by the DEA earlier this month.

Occupy San Francisco makes an appearance. (Image: Phil Smith)
The effects of the renewed federal campaign of raids and intimidation couldn't be any clearer than the message that now greets visitors to Northstone's web page. "We are closed due to a federal raid on our farm," the message reads. "The entire crop was eradicated. We are closed until further notice. We will be sending out an e-letter informing memberships of what they can do as well as upcoming protests. We apologize for the inconvenience."

"Contrary to DOJ claims that they are targeting abusive profiteers, their list of targets includes some of the most respected and best regulated facilities in the state," said California NORML director Dale Gieringer.

Federal prosecutors are also targeting a trio of San Francisco dispensaries for being within a thousand feet of a school or playground, citing a federal drug-free school zone statute that enhances penalties for drug crimes committed within that forbidden zone. But California law allows dispensaries within 600 feet of schools and playgrounds.

In the case of the two Mission area dispensaries within a thousand feet of a school, the dispensaries operated there before the school arrived, and the school has made it known that it has no problems with them. In the case of the dispensary located near a playground, advocates point out that several bars and sex clubs nearby are in closer proximity to the kids.

"The DOJ's complaints represent a frivolous and cynical attack on land use decisions that properly belong to local government," said Gieringer. "This is a blatant example of federal government over-regulation run amok."

"It feels a little Kafkaesque," said medical marijuana and legalization proponent state Rep. Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) at a press conference preceding the protest. "We've been sandbagged by US Attorneys acting like thugs. I almost expect a drone to come down on a dispensary in Fresno one of these days," he said, barely cracking a smile.

Ammiano wants a meeting with Department of Justice officials on the issue, he said. "Why don't they lean on the banks for the foreclosures, instead of medical marijuana?" he asked. "I'll be damned if I know what Justice, IRS, and the rest are thinking right now."

What a difference a couple of years makes. (Image: Phil Smith)
Lynette Shaw, whose Marin Alliance dispensary is being threatened, called out the president. "After we helped put Obama in office, I thought we were in the clear," she said. "Obama, you have the power to issue an executive order and stop this," she challenged.

"The US Attorneys said they were going after the criminals, but that's not true," said Harborside's DeAngelo. "Northstone Organics, the Marin Alliance, and Harborside are all 100% compliant. The targeting by US Attorneys suggests they either need to learn how to aim or to learn how to tell the truth," he said.

It's not just about patients and dispensaries, but also about jobs and the economy, said several speakers. "If the federal government closes down the dispensaries, thousands of hard-working Californians stand to lose their jobs," said United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 Cannabis Division Coordinator Mike Witemeyer, whose union has organized dispensary workers. "We stand with the patients."

"With the federal budget on empty, the economy in disarray, our prisons overflowing, and prohibition-related violence raging across the border, it's an outrageous misuse of federal resources to wage war on medical marijuana," said California NORML's Gieringer. "Federal anti-drug bureaucrats are afraid because the dispensaries are proving that it's possible for marijuana to become a safe, legal, tax-paying industry and so expose their own last-century policies as bankrupt and obsolete."

It's unclear what the Obama administration thinks it is gaining with its ever more hostile policies toward medical marijuana production and distribution in California. What is clear is that it is alienating many people in California who voted for Obama in 2008.

San Francisco, CA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Good

They protested in San Diego too. I don't know why the feds are trying this, they're just exposing their outrageous laws.

marijuana is mainstream

It's nice to, at long last, see the marijuana movement becoming mainstream and omnipresent.

As time goes by it's going for get harder for the pres to duck the issue by ducking in the back door.

Ignore prohibition at your own peril Barry. You still have time to turn this juggernaut around and save your presidency for another term.

The purpose of the crackdown

The purpose of the crackdown is perhaps best understood as action in support of the underground economy.  The aboveground, regulated economy is targeted precisely because it is aboveground.  The only way to protect the underground economy is to kill any aboveground economy that meets demand.  That's how prohibition always work.   The underground economy keeps the enforcement community on the take, and it puts the wealthy at a supra-legal advantage.  It makes intimidation easy for both police and undergrounders, and it makes every effort to restore the rule of law more difficult, because it makes the law, and the apparatus of law enforcement, the people's enemy instead of its friend.  Our republic is comatose, and it cannot survive unchanged.  We've just had a police riot in Oakland.  Fasten your seat belt; turbulence has begun, and more turbulence is in the forecast.  By the way, Obama's behaviors are not the behaviors of a leader who is committed to the rule of law, nor of a President who takes his oath of office literally.  The record clearly shows that Obama believes that, as Richard Nixon once famously put it, "If the President does it, it's legal."  In other words, the President is a tyrant whose powers are limited only in the sense that his term of office is limited.  While in office, he can wield his power without regard for any law that would constrain it.

What do you think the President's role is?  Is he a defender of the Constitution, or a tyrant who gets to decide everything on whatever basis he chooses?  We can't have it both ways.  Personally, I think the American idea has always had freedom from tyranny as its primary goal, and the rule of law has always been the sine qua non for achieving progress toward that goal.

For the record, I like the other candidates for President even less than I like Obama, but I feel I must refuse to vote for a kinder, wiser, gentler slavemaster.  I must vote against tyranny, but I don't see a way to do that right now.

Green Party

Go Green! Their platform is steeped in constitutional justice and they take no corporate funding, and that is exactly what we need now, more than ever!

The way to do that right now

is to support Ron Paul for president.  He is not another tyrant, he's not another protector of the status quo, he's not a warmonger (would end all the current wars and bring all troops home), and he does not support the war on drugs nor the war on terror; he will shake things up in DC and restore the Constitution's limits on the federal government in addition to restoring the economy: http://c3244172.r72.cf0.rackcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/RestoreAmericaPlan.pdf

And the way to get him the nomination (so he can WIN the election) can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtGRHg3a8Iw

And here are some reasons why he's our best choice: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=936887417943&set=a.909946378003.2374086.200034&type=1&ref=nf

Sue the state to sue the feds

Sue the governor, the state attorney general, the state, et al. for failure to stand up to the feds on behalf of the residents of California. California says marijuana has medical use and it allows it for that purpose. Therefor marijuana has medical use in the United States. To remain in federal schedule I marijuana can have no medical use in the United States. Clearly it does as 15 states recognize its medical usefulness. California and the other medical marijuana states need to be forced to petition and sue the DEA  feds to take marijuana out of federal schedule I.

Sue the state to sue the feds

Sue the state of California, the governor, the state attorney for not standing up to the feds. California and 15 other states recognize medical marijuana. For marijuana to remain in federal schedule I it can have no medical use in the United States. Clearly it does. California and the other medical marijuana states need to be forced to stand up to the DEA.

Interesting point by Steve

You are right on; I also thought I saw, in this scenario of the consumer caught between cops and thugs, a parallel to what happens to a kid at a tough urban school caught between Teacher who can flunk you and Bully who can punch you.  (Parents wanting to live in a safe schools district find they are required to spend at least $200,000 on Gingerbread House or they can't live there, thus the recent plague of untenable mortgages.)

Obama is being forced to compromise with pro-Big-2WackGo power led by "low-tar smoker" Boehner (2 shots from Oval Office) who has John H. Fish (R. J. Reynolds) and Bruce Gates (Philip Morrtis) on his advisory staff, schmoozing with him and everyone on his Congressional staff and doubtless rewarded with $multi-million $alaries and $tock options by their grateful employers for the expert influencewieldage.

I think the right strategy is hold nose and support Obama, then if he wins demand our reward.  But Greg's Go Green idea is good if we FIRST do something about the immoral crooked winner-take-all "captive primary" system with its tie to the Big Party duopoly, where you have to ask for only one ballot or the other (even Chicago now has a version of the open-primary-with-runoff system which, nationwide, would give third parties a fair chance to influence outcomes).  Changing this might mean getting started now on a constitutional amendment...

legalize

the people must demand  legalization  and refuse all punishment  we must refuse to pay fines  refuse to pay deal or accept  pled deals  in all respect  the play is on andd we must understand who and what we are seeking  FREEDOM   they are seeking   prohibition  there jobs depend upon it  and that is the game 

we must consider this a war 

massvocals

"Out of control" industry? LOL!!

in the original article it  says, "the four US Attorneys who cover California held a much ballyhooed press conference in Sacramento announcing that they were going after what they described as an industry out of control."  SUNSET the BAR ASSOCIATION. Sue and or fire the ATTORNey Generals. We are all Our own Attorney Generals. We the People hold the highest office in the Land and all political power is inherent to the People.

 

I find it quit humorous that these pirate scumbags call people having a relationship to part of nature as an "industry out of control"  What they really mean is they don't have the control they want to have and they're not getting their piece of the pie so they wish to imprison, destroy, and cause people to suffer for what reason did they say again?

 

My Brothers and Sisters, My family, My people, stand strong and stand UP! These are all indicators that they are grasping at straws as they see their alleged "authority" challenged and possibly even completely disolved. We have the power to abolish them and their "DEPARTMENTS".  I will diligently write (s)words on paper and in text form and post it. These "public servants" should be given fair warnings and NOTICES that in the event that their actions cause anyone harm, loss of wages, damages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, cause them to be kidnapped and held in captivity, false arrest, racketeering, fraud, human trafficking et.al that they do not have any immunity whatsoever and their crimes against humanity and the people will not go unnoticed and the proper course of action will be take in accordance to due process. Sue these officials in their private capacities and put liens against them....Ruin their lives and make them sweat!  They are treasonous impostors and usurpers who are acting outside of their alleged authority. Any authority they think they have comes from who? WE THE PEOPLE!!

THE TIME IS NOW!

I agree 100%.  Its time for people to wake up an realize what the government is doing.  Turn off the TV for a minute and inform yourself of what is going on! If the corruption hasn't effected you already it's going to eventually.  Learn the REAL reason why marijuana/hemp is illegal.  Watch 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcA4ALg0v2I

  there is tons of other good videos on the topic as well. ENJOY!

"Out of control" industry? LOL!!

in the original article it  says, "the four US Attorneys who cover California held a much ballyhooed press conference in Sacramento announcing that they were going after what they described as an industry out of control."  SUNSET the BAR ASSOCIATION. Sue and or fire the ATTORNey Generals. We are all Our own Attorney Generals. We the People hold the highest office in the Land and all political power is inherent to the People.

 

I find it quit humorous that these pirate scumbags call people having a relationship to part of nature as an "industry out of control"  What they really mean is they don't have the control they want to have and they're not getting their piece of the pie so they wish to imprison, destroy, and cause people to suffer for what reason did they say again?

 

My Brothers and Sisters, My family, My people, stand strong and stand UP! These are all indicators that they are grasping at straws as they see their alleged "authority" challenged and possibly even completely disolved. We have the power to abolish them and their "DEPARTMENTS".  I will diligently write (s)words on paper and in text form and post it. These "public servants" should be given fair warnings and NOTICES that in the event that their actions cause anyone harm, loss of wages, damages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, cause them to be kidnapped and held in captivity, false arrest, racketeering, fraud, human trafficking et.al that they do not have any immunity whatsoever and their crimes against humanity and the people will not go unnoticed and the proper course of action will be take in accordance to due process. Sue these officials in their private capacities and put liens against them....Ruin their lives and make them sweat!  They are treasonous impostors and usurpers who are acting outside of their alleged authority. Any authority they think they have comes from who? WE THE PEOPLE!!

campaign promises

People should get over what Obama said during his run for office.

Everybody knows politicians lie to get into office.  The sad part is

that some people still believe politicians and think they can hold them accountable.

Our government, police, prosecutors and politicians are not accountable to us.

 

They are the elite and we poor huddled masses of garbage (in their mind)

and the only thing we deserve is the prison gulag.

 

Time to take back and reform the government.

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