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Medical Marijuana: US Congressman Protests Colorado DEA Raids in Letter to Holder, Obama

Submitted by smorgan on (Issue #622)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

(Commentary on this late-breaking important news item is reprinted from our blog in order to include it in this week's issue. Come back for next week's Chronicle for a news report on it, and visit The Speakeasy to read Scott Morgan's commentary on a daily basis.)

The DEA's recent tough-guy tactics in Colorado aren't winning them any friends in the press, the public, or even in politics. Colorado Congressman Jared Polis sent a scathing letter to Attorney General Holder and President Obama demanding that DEA be required to uphold the administration's policy of respecting medical marijuana laws. Here it is in part:

Despite these formal guidelines, Friday, February 12, 2010, agents from the US Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided the home of medical marijuana caregiver Chris Bartkowicz in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. In a news article in the Denver Post the next day, the lead DEA agent in the raid, Jeffrey Sweetin, claimed "We're still going to continue to investigate and arrest people... Technically, every dispensary in the state is in blatant violation of federal law," he said. "The time is coming when we go into a dispensary, we find out what their profit is, we seize the building and we arrest everybody. They're violating federal law; they're at risk of arrest and imprisonment."

Agent Sweetin's comment that "we arrest everybody" is of great concern to me and to the people of Colorado, who overwhelmingly voted to allow medical marijuana. Coloradans suffering from debilitating medical conditions, many of them disabled, elderly, veterans, or otherwise vulnerable people, have expressed their concern to me that the DEA will come into medical marijuana dispensaries, which are legal under Colorado law, and "arrest everybody" present. Although Agent Sweetin reportedly has backed away from his comments, he has yet to issue a written clarification or resign, thus the widespread panic in Colorado continues.

On May 14, 2009, Mr. Kerlikowske told the Wall Street Journal: "Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country." The actions and commentary of Mr. Sweetin are inconsistent with the idea of not waging war against the people of the State of Colorado and are a contradiction to your agency's laudable policies. [Westword]

Right on. We're witnessing a conspicuous disruption of the White House's carefully crafted effort to reduce controversy in the war on drugs, and it's clear that the silence must soon be broken in Washington. It's easy to say "we're not at war," but until you order the soldiers under your command to lay down their arms, it won't be possible to sugarcoat any of this.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


perry parks (not verified)

Last month Congressman Larry Kissell met with 7 disabled veterans, including myself, each using Cannabis in place of dangerous narcotics. We asked that he investigate the Veteran's Administration (along with pain clinics throughout the US) use of positive drug screens to stop their pain management programs..most often COLD turkey.

We also asked him to find out about the petition to reschedule cannabis, given the final remaining holdout AMA's reversal of their opposition to it vote last November.

I received my response from his office last week. Thomas Thacker, emailed me and said when his office tracked down the petition, the log jam "was in the DEA; they do not intend to reschedule it now..OR EVER!

This is criminal and outrageous. I am Perry Parks, the 67 year old veteran from NC smoking the bong on 1000 newspapers this week.

Google my name, and you will also find that I am one of the good soldiers featured on PBS Bill Moyer's Journal last Nov 4th. Please go to:

I have the film maker's permission to connect these two dots. I am seriously considering putting my retired uniform on and going to the DEA headquarters and stand at the door until I can get an appointment with DEA Administrator Michele Leonhard to express my outrage and demand to see WHY they are refusing.

Anyone willing to help, go to my face book page and to our web site at We are the North Carolina Cannabis Patients Network, a non profit that is working to pass NC HB 1380 and we need your help

Fri, 02/26/2010 - 4:35pm Permalink
Jeff Brown (not verified)

Its time to take the DEA into court. Fourteen states now allow marijuana for medical purposes . Therefor cannabis does not belong in schedule I. It has accepted medical use in the United States. Carl Olsen pressured the Iowa Pharmacy Board to hold medical marijuana hearings and they eventually recommended marijuana be moved to schedule II because of a lawsuit he filed. He still has his lawsuit pending in State Court. He also filed one against the DEA but it was thrown out because of standing concerns- I believe Carl is on to something but we need others with standing to take the DEA to court.

Fri, 02/26/2010 - 6:15pm Permalink
David S. Schne… (not verified)

Any body that takes medicine from those that need it and jails them are Sadists; this means YOU Mr. Sweetin! The DEA is in the hip pocket of Big Pharm. Follow the money folks...

Sat, 02/27/2010 - 6:53am Permalink
maxwood (not verified)

"The DEA is in the hip pocket of Big Pharm."

AND Big pHARMa is in the hip pocket of Big 2WackGo. How much do drug companies have to lose if, because of marijuana law reforms and legalization of vaporizers and one-hitters, the hot burning overdose $igarette format goes down and with it the prevalence of high blood pressure and other di$ea$es caused by the as-advertised tobackgo overdosing habit, requiring High Profit Drug Treatments.

Sat, 02/27/2010 - 3:25pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by maxwood (not verified)

The tobacco companies have no power, especially not like Big Pharma has. Ever heard of ANY prescription drug being taxed? Doesn't happen! But look at the level of taxation on tobacco products and you'll see that tobacco producers have no power, whatsoever. Most politicians are in the pockets of Big Banking and Big Business -- Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Agriculture. Tobacco producers (and users) are WAY down on the list. You need to get over this obsession you have with tobacco, it detracts from the other valid things you have to say.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Sat, 02/27/2010 - 5:08pm Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

In reply to by Moonrider (not verified)

I agree. It tends to make the good points ignorable. I have to admit, though, I am obsessed with the medical issues. I guess because it caused me to lose a career that I worked my butt off, for years, to get.

Sun, 02/28/2010 - 12:30pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by mlang52 (not verified)

The medical side of all this is as big an issue as the freedom to use drugs recreationally issue. I have no objections to you "obsessing" over the medical issues, you have enlightened us to how this war on drugs affects both patients and doctors, and I thank you for that. In the big picture, tobacco is a small thing, but all aspects of the drug war are important, whether they address medical issues or freedom issues.

And before anyone asks, yes, I support any adult's freedom to use alcohol, tobacco, herbs, drugs or nothing at all, with no restriction and no need to get anyone else's permission. Once one is deemed old enough by society to be sent to die in a war, one is old enough to exercise ALL of one's unalienable rights and make one's own decisions about what to ingest.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Sun, 02/28/2010 - 6:24pm Permalink
Ed McCann (not verified)

I spoke with a DEA Special Agent from the Los Angeles Field Division this morning. He told me with no uncertainty that "it doesn't matter what Obama or Holder say. Marijuana is still an illegal Schedule I drug and we will treat it as such." Meaning any medical marijuana dispensary or provider is STILL in jeopardy.

We are in a dangerous moment I fear. Either Attorney General Holder's policy is being blatantly disregarded, or he has betrayed his own words and is allowing the DEA to enforce ITS will.

Fri, 03/05/2010 - 3:30am Permalink
John Smith 2010 (not verified)

Without Marijuana arrests, the DEA folds under it's own weight. They know it. It has to be rescheduled, otherwise, a policy change is just a temporary appeasement.

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 8:04pm Permalink
Anonymous... (not verified)

I guess you could just call Marijuana the DEA's cash crop. Without arrests from Marijuana DEA has nothing to do and would lose a substantial amount of money from it. Anything linked to drug money can be taken possession of by the DEA.

Fri, 03/12/2010 - 2:42pm Permalink
jason lazar (not verified)

And not just the DEA. Think about how many peripheral jobs are connected with drug prohibition directly or indirectly. 100 of thousands, millions? It's huge. When we talk about ending prohibition, we threaten all these peoples livelyhood. that's why there's so much resistence.

Tue, 03/16/2010 - 4:55am Permalink
Marty in Springs (not verified)

I am not a legal expert but I suspect that the DEA and CSA lack the authorty to operate as provided by the US Constitution. If true, then the only reason they operate is that no one has yet taken it to the Supreme Court to rule on.

I strongly suspect that the Supreme Court, if forced to rule on the issue, would find that regulating drugs is a state right and not a federal one.

Fri, 03/19/2010 - 7:04pm Permalink
Truth (not verified)

In reply to by Marty in Springs (not verified)

Unfortunately, they would most likely uphold it as Federally regulated under that most-broad set of laws concerning regulation of interstate commerce. You know, the laws that have been used to circumvent all sorts of otherwise protected rights, such as the 2nd amendment and the regulation of automatic weapons. Technically you can own them but the laws say you can't BUY them under the guise of "interstate commerce" regulations. Or the right for farmers to grow whatever crops they want. Can't do it, Feds tell you what to grow based on interstate commerce laws. Same deal with sugar. You cannot grow sugar cane in the USA for the most part. And the little bit you can grow cannot be sold, again, interstate commerce protecting companies like Del Monte from domestic competition.

Thu, 09/27/2012 - 5:37am Permalink

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