Pages tagged "asset forfeiture"

National Lawyers Guild Report Condemns Federal Marijuana Policy, Calls for Reclassification of Marijuana for Medical Use

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) -- the country's oldest and largest public interest and human rights bar organization -- issued a report yesterday addressing the federal government's flawed policy on marijuana. According to its author NLG Senior Researcher Traci Yoder, High Crimes: Strategies to Further Marijuana Legalization Initiatives "analyzes the legalization process under way in the states, suggests strategies to further marijuana legalization initiatives, and highlights current obstacles to ending prohibition."

While significant attention is given to the adult use of marijuana, generally, the report recommends reframing drug use as "a social and public health issue and not a criminal justice problem," something we've been saying for years at Americans for Safe Access. High Crimes also recommends reclassifying marijuana for medical use. Citing the "[m]ounting scientific and anecdotal evidence" of marijuana's therapeutic benefits, the Guild rightly points out that "Rescheduling cannabis would allow for expanded medical research and use under international law."

The NLG report comes days after a report issued by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), detailing the social and economic costs of the federal government's war on medical marijuana. The ASA report entitled What's the Cost? is geared toward educating federal legislators on the consequences of that war, not only in terms of how it affects the prisoners, their families, and thousands of patients, but also how it impacts the average taxpayer and our federal budget.

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U.S. Mayors Demand Change to Federal Policy, End to Crackdown on Medical Marijuana in Their Cities

Mayors from across the United States gathered in Las Vegas this past weekend for the 81st annual U.S. Conference of Mayors. In a watershed moment, mayors voted unanimously yesterday to adopt a  resolution "in support of states setting their own marijuana policies without federal interference." The resolution was introduced in advance of the conference by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and co-sponsored by 17 other mayors from across the country. Yesterday's passage of the resolution came just days after medical marijuana advocates issued an alarming report detailing how the Obama Justice Department has spent nearly $300 million to undermine medical marijuana laws in the U.S.

"Ultimately, this is about whether local and state governments can develop, adopt, and implement public health laws without heavy-handed interference by the federal government," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, which authored "What's the Cost?" an extensive report issued earlier this month on the economic and social costs of the federal government's war on medical marijuana. "This resolution is emblematic of the frustration experienced by local and state officials, which will continue until the federal government ends its attacks on medical marijuana." More than 100 million people, or 34 percent of Americans, currently live in states with medical marijuana laws.

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Lee's HR 6335 Would End the Assault on Landlords in the War on Safe Access

There are many who suffer the "collateral damage" of the war on safe access to medical cannabis. Patients who must suffer or break the law to obtain medicine, as well as their loved ones and providers are some of the more well known victims in this federal assault. However, the overzealous actions of US Attorneys at the Department of Justice (DOJ) have brought to light another group suffering from our utterly nonsensical federal medical cannabis policy - the landlords who lease property to dispensaries.

On Thursday, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced HR 6335 (text), the  the States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act. The bill would stop the seizure of property from landlords of state law-compliant medical marijuana businesses, and was introduced less than a month after US Attorney Melinda Haag began forfeiture proceedings against the landlords of Harborside, the well-known dispensary who's Oakland location is in Lee's district.

Facing Peril Unforeseeable Based on Prior Federal Rhetoric

Landlords in states with medical cannabis laws have every reason to believe and expect that when a business presents them with a legitimate business license issued by the state and/or local municipality, that such a business is not breaking any laws merely for existing. In fact, based upon President Obama's instance that he was no longer going after medical cannabis patients and that we no longer have a "war" on drugs, it's perfectly understandable that the average person would not think twice about leasing such a property to medical cannabis dispensary.

Not only do these landlords have every right to expect that these businesses are OK to lease to, the cost to the landlord to get such a property ready to lease to another customer can be quite expensive. Furthermore, in a time when commercial property owners have a hard enough time finding any tenants, these landlords have made business decisions based on the presumed reliable income that dispensary-tenants provide. When you consider that each crime study regarding dispensary neighborhoods indicates that these facilities are assets rather than liabilities to the community, the wisdom of the DOJ forfeitures is questionable at best.

US Attorneys Running Roughshod Over Justice

Speaking of US Attorneys and "questionable" legal thoughts, check out US Attorney Melinda Haag's bizarre and unhinged rational for issuing forfeiture proceedings against Harborside. If sheer size and number of retail sales for things within the Controlled Substances Act was sufficient basis for forfeiture at Harborside, why isn't every CVS, Rite Aide and Walgreens of similar size to Harborside being raided as well. Based on their size, something illegal must be afoot! (Maybe US Attorny Duffy will take up that charge...)

Civil asset forfeiture is a rather extreme government tactic which some have noted treads dangerously close to offending at least four US Constitutional Amendments, the 4th, 5th, 8th, and 14th. It forces property owners to prove their innocence rather than have the government prove guilt. Property owners have no right to an attorney or a jury trial in these proceedings. Many have said civil forfeiture should be done away with all together, but if it is to exist, the government must be judicious in its application.

Lee's HR 6335 Would End this Tactic Against Safe Access

Americans for Safe Access thanks Congresswoman Lee and the cosponsors of HR 6335 for protecting the property rights of land owners who rent to state-approved and law abiding medical cannabis dispensaries. Contact your Representative today and urge them to cosponsor this much-needed safe access legislation.


Support HR 6335 to protect patients' access


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US Rep. Lee[/caption]

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is trying to confiscate property used to cultivate or provide medical cannabis to patients, even when it is legal under state law. Americans for safe Access (ASA), the nation’s leading medical cannabis patients’ advocacy organization, needs your help today stop them.

Take a minute right now to ask your US Representative to co-sponsor and support HR 6335, the “States' Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act.”

US Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced a HR 6335 last night to stop federal intimidation in the seventeen states and the District of Columbia where medical cannabis is already legal. HR 6335 will prevent the DOJ from using federal civil asset forfeiture laws against medical cannabis cultivators and providers who are in compliance with their state’s medical cannabis laws.

This is not a hypothetical threat. The DOJ has already initiated civil asset forfeiture proceedings against the property owner of California’s largest medical cannabis patients’ collective, and the threat of additional federal action has sent shock waves through the medical cannabis community nationwide. Numerous providers’ associations have already been closed or evicted in response to federal intimidation.

Federal civil asset forfeiture laws were created to target large-scale narcotic traffickers, but the DOJ is using these draconian measures to target legally-organized and operated medical cannabis associations. This is fundamentally unfair, and we have to stop it. HR 6335 will prevent the DOJ for misusing the powerful and controversial civil asset forfeiture laws against medical cannabis patients, cultivators, and providers whose conduct is legal under state law.

Please help ASA stop this injustice. States should be free to permit and regulate the medical use of cannabis. This may eventually lead to a national policy that protects legitimate patients from prosecution and the dangers of the illicit market – if we stop the federal intimidation now. Ask your US Representative to co-sponsor and support HR 6335 today.

ASA is committed to stopping the federal interference and intimidation, so that patients can have safe access to medicine. But we need your help to fight this battle in Congress, the federal courts, and in the states. Can you please make a contribution of $35, $50, $100, or whatever you can afford to help ASA pass HR 6335 and accomplish our other important work?

Download a copy of the bill and ASA's Fact Sheet to learn more. Thank you for supporting HR 6335 and ASA.