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Obama Getting Even MORE Medieval On California Medical Marijuana While Fundraising There As Mr. Hopey Changey

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ABC NEWS: In its effort to shut down California’s booming medical marijuana dispensaries, the Justice Department is seeking to seize the property where the clinics are based, even going after at least one bank that holds the mortgage on a clinic. Chase bank received a letter to evict the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, according to Greg Anton, attorney for the clinic. The bank owns the note on the building in Fairfax, Calif. According to Anton, the bank received a similar letter from U.S. attorney Melinda Haag for the northern district of California that was sent to the Alliance’s landlord on Sept. 28 and other medical marijuana dispensaries. The letters threatened that unless the owners evicted the cannabis clinics within 45 days, they could face criminal action. MORE

ABC NEWS: On Tuesday, state and local legislators gathered with clinic owners in San Francisco prior to President Obama’s fundraiser event, calling on the president to intervene. “This destructive attack on medical marijuana patients is a waste of obama_hippie_poster.jpglimited law enforcement resources and will cost the state millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives,” California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano said. “President Obama needs to reverse this bad policy decision and respect California’s right to provide medicine to its residents.” Aaron Smith, executive director for the National Cannabis Industry Association, said, “President Obama needs to immediately reign in the Justice Department for defying his administration’s stated policy to respect state medical marijuana laws.” The Justice Department’s action places into question marijuana-related activities in 15 other states and the District of Columbia, which have legalized medicinal marijuana in some form. MORE

ABC NEWS: Kevin Sabet, former Senior Policy Advisor to President Obama’s Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske, and currently a consultant to drug prevention and policy organizations, said financial institutions that deal with medical marijuana organizations should be on alert. “Smoked marijuana remains illegal in all states, and federal law — while recognizing certain components of marijuana as having medicinal value — does not allow the whole marijuana plant to be smoked for any purpose, including purported medical purposes,” he said. Sabet also warned that all states with legalized medical marijuana should pay attention to the enforcement actions in California. “Remember, all actions have to be approved by Attorney General Holder, so it’s hard to imagine that California would be the only place the Department of Justice is focusing on,” Sabet said. MORE

EAST BAY EXPRESS: President Obama did not see the 200 or so California medical cannabis protestors who came to greet him eye-to-eye during his short San Francisco fundraising stop Tuesday afternoon. His motorcade took Second Street, while the protestors were on Third Street, and by the time word got around, the President was already in the W Hotel, collecting about a million dollars in campaign donations.That the President took Second Street while the protesters were on Third might be a snarky observation, but it’s also an observation with symbolism: Earlier in the day, at the press conference at the Marriott, a roomful of activists couldn’t fathom how medical marijuana is polling at 70 percent approval, obama_hippie_poster.jpgwhile political leaders could be so terrified of the issue. Four U.S. Attorneys have used cancer patients as a public punching bag Oct. 7, and since then have gone on to threaten dozens of landlords across the state with forfeiture for harboring a marijuana-related business. Raids on Northstone Organics, threats against Prop 19 author Rich Lee’s landlord, and the tax assessment against Harborside Health Center make it clear the government wants examples made of industry voices. MORE

WHITE HOUSE TRANSCRIPT OF OBAMA SAN FRANCISCO FUNDRAISING SPEECH: So change is possible.  We’ve made change.  And we’ve made it because of you.  And so the question is how committed are you going to be to continue this process. I keep a checklist in my drawer of my campaign promises.  About once a week I take it out and make a little check.  (Laughter.)  And we’ve gotten about 60 percent done so far — in three years.  (Applause.)  But I need another five to get the other 40 percent done — (applause) — […] So we made a lot of change, but we’ve got a lot more work to do.  And I know that I’m now a little grayer — (laughter) — and it’s not as trendy to be an Obama supporter as it was back in 2008, when I was sort of the new thing, sort of the new new thing.  (Laughter.)  We’ve had setbacks.  We’ve had disappointments.  I’ve made mistakes on occasion — Michelle reminds me of those frequently.  (Laughter.)  The “Hope” poster is kind of faded and a little dog-eared.  (Laughter.) MORE

PHAWKER: The only ‘change’ we’ve seen is between Candidate Obama and President Obama.

RELATED: Consider public statements by Obama and Holder that contradict the position the administration is now taking. In a March 2008 interview with Oregon’s Mail Tribune, Obama said, “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.” Two months later, when another Oregon paper, Willamette Week, asked Obama whether he would “stop the DEA’s raids on Oregon medical marijuana growers,” he replied, “I would, because I think our federal agents have better things to do.” MORE

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: The Obama White House’s restrictions on media access to its fund-raising events makes a mockery of its claim to be the most transparent administration in history. If anything, there is almost a Nixonian quality to the level of control, paranoia – and lack of credibility – this White House has demonstrated on the issue of media access to President Obama’s fundraisers. Bay Area reporters will not be allowed inside the W Hotel today when the president meets with hundreds of contributors paying $7,500 or more to attend. Only Washington-based journalists were allowed in the pool – continuing a disturbing trend by this White House to severely limit access to fundraisers. Even former President George W. Bush, hardly a champion of transparency, allowed local reporters to cover his fund-raising obama_hippie_poster.jpgevents. MORE

TIME: Why is the government cracking down on medical marijuana, a $1.7 billion business in California alone — and one of the few that seems to be thriving in a moribund economy? In early October, the Justice Department announced it would be targeting medical marijuana dispensaries in California. Calling large dispensaries “profiteers” that “hijacked” California’s medical marijuana law and were “motivated not by compassion but by money,” the state’s four U.S. attorneys announced the arrests of two major dispensary owners and a lawyer they accused of making millions from growing the drug.

It was a reversal of President Obama’s campaign promise to end the previous administration’s legal pursuit of medical marijuana. Although Obama’s justice department had previously abided by a memo, which said that prosecuting marijuana providers and patients who followed state law was not an “efficient use of federal resources,” over the summer the administration changed tactics, expressing concern about “an increase in the scope of commercial cultivation, sale, distribution and use of marijuana for purported medical purposes.” It began sending letters to dispensaries and their landlords threatening forfeiture of the property if marijuana sales did not stop.

The IRS has also begun its own crackdown on California dispensaries. It now claims that the dispensaries owe back taxes because all of their business deductions are illegal. In addition, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms recently warned gun dealers not to sell to users of medical marijuana. Ironically, national support for medical marijuana is currently at a high, at about 70%, and more and more advocates are calling for total legalization of the drug. For the first obama_hippie_poster.jpgtime ever, Gallup found last week that more Americans support making marijuana use legal: 50% of Americans support legalization, with 46% opposed. That’s up from just 12% in favor in 1969.

Support for legalization is even higher in younger age groups: 62% of those aged 18 to 29 want legal marijuana, while just 31% of those over 65 favor changing the current law. As boomers and even more weed-friendly Gen-Xers age, pro-legalization sentiment continues to grow. Now add to that, support for legalization from the California Medical Association, the state’s largest group representing doctors, with some 35,000 members. In this context, medical marijuana doesn’t seem like a crime voters are clamoring to prosecute. It’s not likely that the federal crackdown will actually affect marijuana consumption, either. Studies repeatedly find little effect of law enforcement spending on demand for drugs. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: VICE PRESIDENTIAL BLUES: How I Tried To Change National Drug Policy & All I Got Was A Parking Ticket

obama_obamahuana.jpgRELATED: Pop quiz! Who is the worst president in U.S. history when it comes to medical marijuana? According to the Marijuana Policy Project, the answer is Barack Obama. […] Among the administration’s recent moves:

• In September, the ATF sent a letter [PDF] to all federal firearms licensees instructing them that anyone who uses marijuana — even for medical purposes — cannot legally possess firearms or ammunition.

• Last week, the IRS ruled that medical marijuana dispensaries cannot deduct standard business expenses — such as rent, employee health insurance, security, licensing fees or payroll — from their tax returns, in what observers say could be a crushing blow to the industry.

• And on Friday, federal authorities in California — the country’s largest marijuana market — launched a coordinated, statewide offensive against medical marijuana dispensaries, announcing a series of civil forfeiture lawsuits and warning at least 16 to shut down or face criminal charges and confiscation of property. MORE

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PREVIOUSLY: HOPELESS: DEA Re-Affirms Classification Of Marijuana As Dangerous Drug With No Redeeming Social Or Medical Value, Just Like Heroin

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Marijuana has been approved by California, many other states and the nation’s capital to treat a range of illnesses, but in a decision announced Friday the federal government ruled that it has no accepted medical use and should remain classified as a highly dangerous drug like heroin. The decision comes almost nine years after medical marijuana supporters asked the government to reclassify cannabis to take into account a growing body of worldwide research that shows its effectiveness in treating certain diseases, such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. Advocates for the medical use of the drug criticized the ruling but were elated that the Obama administration has finally acted, which allows them to appeal to the federal courts. The decision to deny the Obama_Hope_Is_Fading.jpgrequest was made by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and comes less than two months after advocates asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to force the administration to respond to their petition. “We have foiled the government’s strategy of delay, and we can now go head-to-head on the merits,” said Joe Elford, the chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access and the lead attorney on the lawsuit. Elford said he was not surprised by the decision, which comes after the Obama administration announced it would not tolerate large-scale commercial marijuana cultivation. “It is clearly motivated by a political decision that is anti-marijuana,” he said. MORE

RELATED: Consider public statements by Obama and Holder that contradict the position the administration is now taking. In a March 2008 interview with Oregon’s Mail Tribune, Obama said, “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.” Two months later, when another Oregon paper, Willamette Week, asked Obama whether he would “stop the DEA’s raids on Oregon medical marijuana growers,” he replied, “I would, because I think our federal agents have better things to do.” MORE

RELATED: Medical marijuana advocacy groups say that contradicts Obama’s pledges in October 2009 to let states set their own policies. They also accuse the administration of violating its stated policies with frequent raids on suppliers in the 16 states with such medical marijuana laws, and more recently with warnings to officials in at least 10 states that they could face prosecution if they authorized dispensaries to sell pot to patients. MORE

RELATED: Obama made three explicit promises during the campaign. He said the feds would not go after medical marijuana Obama_Hope_Is_Fading.jpgfacilities operating legally under state law, and he appeared to make good on that. He said the crack-powder laws needed to be rolled back, and they got a major reform of that law last year. Third, he said he would support federal funding for needle exchange, and they did support the efforts in Congress on that. Since that time, it looks more and more like the drug czar’s office has been captured by the drug warriors and the anti-drug fanatics who dominated policy-making in the Clinton and Bush administrations. The rhetoric coming out of the drug czar’s office is almost indistinguishable from the rhetoric of past administrations. The personnel they’ve been hiring, and the people they talk to, are overwhelmingly those who have been associated with the failed drug war policies of the past. And meanwhile the Justice Department seems to be getting more and more engaged in enforcement of marijuana laws in ways that really make no sense as a matter of [the] responsible [use] of resources. MORE

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Federal prosecutors have launched a crackdown on pot dispensaries in California, warning the stores that they must shut down in 45 days or face criminal charges and confiscation of their property even if they are operating legally under the state’s 15-year-old medical marijuana law. In an escalation of the ongoing conflict between the U.S. government and the nation’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry, California’s s four U.S. attorneys sent letters Wednesday and Thursday notifying at least 16 pot shops or their landlords that they are violating federal drug laws, even though medical marijuana is legal in California. The attorneys are scheduled to announce their coordinated crackdown at a Friday news conference. Their offices refused to confirm the closure orders. The Associated Press obtained copies of the letters that a prosecutor sent to 12 San Diego dispensaries. They state that federal law “takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana.” “Under United States law, a dispensary’s operations involving sales and distribution of marijuana are illegal and subject to criminal prosecution and civil enforcement actions,” letters signed by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in San Diego read. “Real Obama_Hope_Is_Fading.jpgand personal property involved in such operations are subject to seizure by and forfeiture to the United States … regardless of the purported purpose of the dispensary.” The move comes a little more than two months after the Obama administration toughened its stand on medical marijuana following a two-year period during which federal officials had indicated they would not move aggressively against dispensaries in compliance with laws in the 16 states where pot is legal for people with doctors’ recommendations. MORE

PHAWKER: This is the final straw. Nobody was a better friend or fiercer ally of candidate Obama than Phawker.com. Where that man — the man of hope and change –  went after Election Day 2008, we cannot say. Frankly, we now have serious doubts he ever truly existed outside of our own hopes and dreams. Until now, we have held our tongues while everything he campaigned on — providing a public option and consumer protection, reforming the predatory financial system, closing the revolving door between government and K Street, ending warrantless spying on Americans, restoring habeas corpus, closing the dungeons of Gitmo, ending two pointless treasury-draining wars, ending the prosecution of whistleblowers in the name of transparency and accountability — was thrown under the bus of political expediency and capitulation masquerading as bi-partisanship. And now he’s taking away medicine from the terminally ill, despite the fact that legalization of said medicine was voted into law by democratic majorities in 15 states, for no better reason than the prison-industrial complex that funds his candidacy is hooked on massive infusions of Drug War budget money and private prisons need to fill beds to turn a profit. This is beyond the pale — a new low in political cowardice. But let the record show, going forward we will have nothing to do with Barack Obama’s re-election, and very little to do, for that matter, with the Obama_Hope_Is_Fading.jpgcorporate sock puppet show that the utterly corrupt electoral process has become in this country. We are done. If the Obama presidency has proven anything, it’s this: VOTING DOES NOT MATTER IN THIS COUNTRY, and will continue to be meaningless as long as campaigns are privately-financed. The electoral process has become nothing more than a sideshow financed by the 1% to fool the 99% into believing that we still live in a functioning democracy. To the Obama fundraisers that keep calling, don’t waste your breath. We gave generously, even when we had little to spare, back in 2008. No more. That money would have been better spent on potato chips.

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