U.S. Attorney reveals more on medical marijuana enforcement


U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner deals with the Eastern District of California, which includes 34 counties, including Mono County.

At a meeting on Tuesday in Sacramento with California district attorneys, including Mono County, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California talked about federal law enforcement of medical marijuana dispensaries.  The report from the meeting sounds like federal attorneys may try to close down what they call “commercial marijuana operations.”

In a press release from Mono DA George Booth and his Assistant Tim Kendall, they state that the U.S. Attorney’s long standing position is in enforcing “federal criminal law, not prosecuting seriously sick people” and their caregivers.  The release says the federal attorneys have no intention of interfering with medical marijuana patient rights or their legal access to medical marijuana. But, according to the Mono press release, the federal lawyers do intend to interfere with what they call commercial marijuana operations, including marijuana grows, marijuana stores and mobile delivery services.

The Mono press release says that in the opinion of the U.S. Attorney, these are “all activities that are illegal and generate huge profits and are no more than criminal enterprises.”  The release does not say whether the U.S. Attorney will close down all dispensaries.   Assistant DA Kendall said he does not have an answer on that question.  He did say the DA has no jurisdiction to enforce federal law.

The Mono press release does list three main areas of enforcement action.  They are letters of warning to owners and property holders that their marijuana activity is illegal and subjects them to further action if continued.  Letters of warning will also go to municipalities that sanction or permit such marijuana activities.  The U.S. Attorney will also use civil forfeiture lawsuits against properties involved in such marijuana activity and they will criminally prosecute individuals dealing in such marijuana activities.

The Mono release goes on to say that “The U.S. Attorney’s position is that those within the California medical marijuana industry that are making large profits, selling or trafficking, are operating beyond the medical marijuana laws, and it is no longer about providing medicine to the seriously sick but is a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law.”

Booth and Kendall say that each U.S. Attorney will look within their districts to determine whether such activities violate federal law.  In Mammoth Lakes, where citizens voted to allow two medical marijuana dispensaries, one of them has already closed in the face of apparent enforcement.  That was Green Mammoth owned by Steve Klassen.  The other dispensary, Mammoth Lakes Wellness, remained open at last word.

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30 Responses to U.S. Attorney reveals more on medical marijuana enforcement

  1. JJ December 6, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    Why don’t we stop all the bull and legalize it. I’m almost 50 and don’t know anyone over 20 who hasn’t tried it. Or should we all be locked up Wayne.

  2. Terribone December 3, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    Well, I’ll assume the Tea Party and other conservatives of their ilk are up-in-arms about this latest development. After all, the feds storming in to restrict state law and individual freedoms directly contradicts the fundamental position of these groups. Agreed?

    • Tourbillon December 3, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

      Well, actually, yes – agreed, on behalf of the Tea Party. Don’t overload your carriage with juvenile challenges that are too clever by half.

      Look forward to when you and “your ilk” get “up in arms” about government sticking its greedy hand ever deeper into our pockets.

  3. Wayne Deja December 2, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    Here to be criticized…..Your case,and condition is exactly what,and who MMJ was intended for.You are not looked on by anyone as “pot smoking scum”.When the MMJ prop was put to a vote way back in 1996,when the people saw it as a compassionate thing to do,to vote yes,maybe some people didn’t agree with marijuana as a way to deal with pain or certain medical conditions,and side effects,but voted yes anyway,if they felt it made their lives easier. It’s the people that took advantage of the loop-holes…and the ones YOU should be upset with…that have screwed it up for those,like you,and not so much upset at those that see it as the joke it has turned into.If some of these so-called MMJ despensaries were on the up and up they would have nothing to fear from the feds.I ,and others have mentioned the people we all know that have these cards,obtained from doctors because of fake illnesses’,and use the cards as a way to legally get “high” and party with their friends,legally sell dope to whoever they want to sell it to.The Feds state they are cracking down because of the large profits these despensaries are making…among other things…not trying to make it hard on the people with conditions and illnesses like yourself.When I voted yes on the MMJ prop.,it was because of people like yourself.

    • Eamon McNamara December 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

      Poor Wayne Deja, making blanket statements based on his limited view from his window in Independence…..he who knows no one with a MMJ card and probably never leave Inyo County…..oh isn’t ignorance and stereotypes bliss?

      • Wayne Deja December 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

        Eamon….I think God wants you to go smoke a bowl…

  4. Here to be criticized December 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    Thats too bad…I have chronic myeloid leukemia. This is such a disgrace for our community! The pills they prescribed me nearly killed me or made me braindead. I couldnt handle the stuff all of the “mainstream” approved of because it was so bad. Then I found Green Mammoth and as a result had a new lease on life (at least in the evenings on my own time). Oddly enough I am a local business owner, disinclined to sit on the couch, and generally a conservative individual. I guess the side affects of my daily CHEMO pill arent enough to give you fools some compassion. Oh well I guess we will all be judged by the measure with which we judge others. Sorry for the rant. back to your beers, wine, vicodin, and other approved of methods of escaping the reality your creating.

    Hopefully one day all of you that disaprove of an adults right to their own decisions will be put in a similar position as mine. Then maybe you’ll realize that all of the bitterness you had for the “pot smoking scum” was perhaps a little ignorant and overrated. Nevermind…I wouldnt wish cancer on anybody but I would wish that you had a natural method of coping with the horrendous side affects. Be well and stay healthy!

    • Eamon McNamara December 3, 2011 at 11:52 am #

      You go, I agree with you whole-heartily.
      So long as the long arm of government gives a “manipulated mineral” a stamp of approval the talking heads here will say it’s great thing!
      If it’s marijuana, God’s beautiful plant, placed on Earth for our use in its natural form, that the long arm of government has vilified on racist notions then the talking heads will denounce it.
      Keep using your medicine, I support freedom of choice, unlike the rest of the Anti-MMJ crowd who like “freedom” so long as it’s their version of it.

  5. JaneE December 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    ” it is no longer about providing medicine to the seriously sick but is a pervasive for-profit industry” – that sounds like a very good description of Big Pharma. Maybe the medical marijuana folks should hire some lobbyists instead of lawyers. Or support the rescheduling effort to get it moved to real pharmacies.

  6. STEVEN December 2, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    “For the record.” I am not one to endorse drug use. I am a staunch conservative. However, I do endorse the legal use of medical Marijuana and have voted for and have accepted this reality. With that said, my views on this matter are as follows:
    The bumbling fools in Government say: “California medical marijuana industry that are making large profits, selling or trafficking, are operating beyond the medical marijuana laws, and it is no longer about providing medicine to the seriously sick but is a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law.”
    Are they saying the dispensaries in town are doing that?
    I know people who are sick and use those places to get their meds. There is no way that is happening in Mammoth!
    This is part of a massive conspiracy where our Government is making money deals with the Mexican Government, or otherwise known as the Cartels, just like fast and furious gun deals where our government is being paid off more money to have Mexican drugs flow in at massive rates via the new agreement to have thousands of job stealing truckers from Mexico pour into our Country full of drugs, and people flocking into our Country practically unchecked and also full of drugs.
    Rather than completely or even partly stop that from happening, this lazy Chicken Government of ours, go after the easy guy who is actually doing it the legal and honest way.
    There are several programs on television that are actually Government endorsed that show “Under staffed” ICE agents going after the illegal aliens and drug smugglers and even submarines getting caught and so fourth.
    Dont believe for a minute that they are going all out down there at the border to protect this Country.
    A tremendous amount of Child killing drugs and illegal alien people are flowing over the border at alarming rates!
    I know this!
    I have been on patrols down there with my fellow Minutemen.
    The money being made from that verses the money being made from what now amounts to be Mom and Pop medical dispensaries in America, Are not even close!
    Not even minutely!
    Americas Tax revenues from legal marijuana is a microcosm compared to what is coming over the border.
    I’m sorry to say, but with the exception of few, this incompetent sell out Government of ours, are simply Liars, cheats, Sell outs and rotten to the core.
    And by the way!
    If the Feds were so concerned about enforcing Federal laws and protecting American Citizens, why then are there millions of Mexican Illegal aliens running a muck here in
    “OUR Country”, unchecked and unprosecuted?
    Why instead dose this gutless Government of ours sue American States who actually try and do their jobs and pass laws to prosecute and get rid of the illegal aliens?
    Because they have been bought out in Washington!
    Thats why!
    All we have to do is look at all the corruption and greed from the past and the present, and you will see what we will get in the future from our bought out Government.
    Sad to say, but it does not look rosy. More like ” Ironically “, WEEDY!

    • STEVEN December 3, 2011 at 9:11 am #

      I thought so.
      Biased one sided liberal news organization.
      You kinda people only hear what you want to hear.
      Take me off your mailing list.
      And hurry!

  7. Not here to be criticized December 2, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    Wayne, are you on a crusade to spread your word? Your oppinions are yours, and you know what they say about oppinions. Dean provided from what I see a News Piece that was a tiny bit biased. You shouldnt FIRE back at him with your narrow minded views on the subject. Its time to grow up.

    • Rob December 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

      Wayne’s an opinionated character that’s for sure. He is however posting under his true full name from down there around Lone Pine.

      So I think he can say just about anything he wants. He owns it 100 percent. And he’s not hiding look him up.

  8. dean December 1, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

    So, Wayne, you’re suggesting that criminals immediately stop driving when they lose their driving privileges?

    I linked to a Wall Street Journal blog post that references a study that was just completed. The study in question suggests that overall traffic fatalities fell nearly 9% (that is 90 per 1000). Pretty amazing, I think. The researchers guessed that traffic fatalities fell because marijuana displaced alcohol consumption.

    • Wayne Deja December 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

      Dean….Don’t you think its just possible that the drop off of traffic fatalities and accidents just could be attributed something other than allowing MMJ?…like maybe the economy?…less people driving,less people going on vacations,etc.? Less people spending their money going out dining and drinking?….Of course some criminals keep on driving when they lose their license…but a LOT of them,when caught driving on a revoked license lose their vehicles to the tow-yard for 30 days to impound….in turn losing their vehicles since they can’t afford to pay the fees to get the vehicle back.Bottom line is,traffic accidents and fatalities are down nationwide…and to spin it by saying it’s because of medical marijuana displaced alcohol is ridiculous.

      • dean December 2, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

        Wayne –

        It would be preposterous to assert that the national reduction in fatal accidents was entirely attributable to medical marijuana laws. The study I linked does not suggest that. Did you read it and look at their regression models, the statistical significance of their findings, and the results? Tables 7, 8 and 9 are particularly telling.

        For instance, the reduction in drunk driving fatalities with BAC greater than .10 after states had medical marijuana laws in effect for more than three years was 9.4%. That number is statistically significant with a p-value of .044 – basically, it stands up to statistical scrutiny and is reliable.

        Further, In this particular example drunk drivers are relatively economy-controlled in that to be included in the group they must have both access to a vehicle AND enough alcohol to reach a BAC of .10 or greater.

        Finaly, The study author created measurements that took into account the variables you mention. In calculating total fatalities they created a complex statistical regression model – a math equation that takes many pieces of data into account and paints a picture with the information that comes out. One segment of that model was directed specifically at ways to make it stand up to criticism like yours.

        In fact, per this paper’s authors, “[p] revious studies provide evidence that a variety of statelevel policies can impact traffic fatalities. For instance, graduated driver licensing regulations and stricter seatbelt laws are associated with fewer traffic fatalities . Other studies have examined the effects of speed limits , BAC laws, and Zero Tolerance Laws. The relationship between beer taxes and traffic fatalities has also received attention from economists In addition to these polices, we include an indicator for marijuana decriminalization, the state unemployment rate, and real per capita income. Finally, following Eisenberg (2003), we control for the vehicle miles driven per licensed driver in the state.”

        Remember, the 3+ year and 2-3 year data are statistically significant. I am sure these findings will be scrutinized, refined, and improved. Heck, you could probably write the study authors and get a copy of the data they analyzed to conduct your own rigorous statistical analysis and earn a PhD in economics (like one author did) or add onto your Cornell PhD (like the other).

        Read the paper yourself:http://ftp.iza.org/dp6112.pdf

  9. Jake December 1, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    Thank god!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. dean December 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    IN OTHER NEWS: Medical Marijuana laws result in reduced traffic fatalities.


    • Wayne Deja December 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

      Dean….NEWS FLASH!!!!!! ..Heroin and meth use reduce traffic accidents….because those addicted to meth and heroin usually have either lost their driving privileges because of a DUI,or if they have the money to buy a vehicle,they would spend that money on drugs instead.

      • brinna nanda December 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

        Wayne, you seem very anti-cannabis. Is this because you personally had a bad experience with it?

        I only ask because, given what I have learned about the robust medicinal properties of the plant, added to the extremely vital resources that cannabis can supply in terms of fiber, food and fuel, I find it astounding that it is still banned long after that initial undebated, corporate-sponsored, big government 1937 congressional action.

        That, and the fact that when its reclassification went to court in 1987, the DEA ignored and overruled the finding of their own administrative judge who determined that cannabis is the safest therapeutic agent known to man.

        What am I missing here?

  11. Rob December 1, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    “they state that the U.S. Attorney’s long standing position is in enforcing “federal criminal law,”

    No it’s not. The U.S. Attorney picks which federal criminal laws he’ll choose to enforce.

    Unfortunately illegal immigration isn’t one of them.

    Steve Klassen is smart not to be made an example out of.

  12. Eamon December 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    Here comes the long hairy arm of MAN’S law to dictate to us how to utilize God’s plants the way God wanted us to.

    • Wayne Deja December 1, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

      Eamon….enough already about marijuana being “God’s plant”……..Cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca plant…….Does that also make cocaine one of “God’s ” plants?….or the way God wanted his people to utilize it?……come on!!.. I doubt when Jesus comes back,he’s gonna hide away in some apartment with a bong getting high on weed….or applying for an MMJ card.

      • Eamon December 2, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

        No, cocaine is a manufactured product from the Coca plant- therefore the coca plant is God’s plant” cocaine is a man made “manipulated mineral.”
        And if Jesus, does come back he’ll be hanging with people with AIDS, prostitutes, and other “ilk” so many people have disdain for; like he did “back in the day”

        • Eamon December 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

          He sure won’t be hanging with the “money changers” at the Temple.

        • Reality Check December 2, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

          Try that wonderful herb and gift from God, Hemlock.

      • Here to be criticized December 2, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

        Please look up patent #6630507 in the patent office web site. The truth shall set you free so long as your willing to see it my friend.

  13. KristiBuchanan December 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    Ok dope dealers, here come the big federal guns! Lets see how they stand their ground in selling their medication to all those poor needy ill twenty-something year olds.

    • Rob December 2, 2011 at 11:20 am #

      When’s the last time you talked Joel in Ktown?

  14. Wayne Deja December 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Sierragrl…….NOW do you see why Mr.Klassen maybe chose to close down his operation…errrrr…..his medical marijuana dispensary?Like I said before,if you got the threat of the Feds to look into what you’r doing,if it’s within the legal-guidelines or not, it’s probably a VERY wise idea to close up shop,and continue with your other business.


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