California medical marijuana patients, storefront collectives and their landlords on Monday announced a massive lawsuit seeking an immediate stop to the federal government’s statewide crackdown on medicinal cannabis. The lawsuit was filed simultaneously in each of the four federal districts in the state — San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento — where U.S. attorneys have set various deadlines for dispensaries to shut down or risk criminal prosecution and forfeiture of their properties. “This is (a) multipronged, organized effort to get into court and to send a message to the federal government that we need to stop the aggression and sit down and talk reasonably about these issues,” Matt Kumin of San Francisco, one of the attorneys bringing the federal suit forward, said in a statement Monday.
It remains unclear how many local dispensaries and property owners were involved in the federal lawsuit accusing the Department of Justice of entrapping marijuana providers by reversing its own policy. The plaintiffs cited a 2010 agreement by federal prosecutors to dismiss a case against a Santa Cruz County medical marijuana cooperative because the department had told U.S. attorneys to defer to states on medical use of the drug. Lawyers in the latest case said they would ask a judge to immediately halt the crackdown on cooperatives, property owners and the businesses that support them. The announcement Monday in San Francisco comes two weeks after the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access filed a federal lawsuit arguing the Obama administration was attempting to subvert state and local medical marijuana laws. Americans for Safe Access’ 17-page lawsuit names U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of San Francisco. The suit seeks an injunction barring the Department of Justice from interfering with collectives that meet state and local regulations along with the return of 99 cannabis plants seized during the Oct. 13 raid of a licensed collective in Mendocino County. It did not, however, request an immediate restraining order.
The group, which represents about 20,000 patients in California, has planned a demonstration Wednesday in Sacramento to protest what it described as the federal government’s escalated attack on state medical marijuana laws. Smaller rallies and marches have occurred previously in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. California’s four federal prosecutors launched their campaign last month to shutdown profit-making marijuana dispensaries, accusing producers and distributors of using the state’s 1996 medical marijuana law as a cover for pushing illegal drugs. U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of San Diego mailed hundreds of letters beginning Oct. 4 warning collectives and their landlords to permanently close their doors within 45 days or risk criminal prosecution and property seizures. Her counterparts also fired warnings to several municipalities targeting medical marijuana regulations that provided a path to legitimacy. Duffy has characterized the state’s marijuana industry as pervasive and profit-driven. The Justice Department has repeatedly declined comment. Federal officials did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the latest lawsuit.
Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, and several congressional colleagues wrote to President Barack Obama on Oct. 28 urging him to reclassify marijuana as a legitimate controlled substance for medicinal purposes under federal law. While the Drug Enforcement Administration recently denied a petition to do so, the members of Congress said California physicians would continue to recommend it to alleviate serious illnesses and medical conditions that have not responded to other medications and treatments. It has been 15 years since Californians voted to allow patients with a doctor’s approval to use marijuana and receive it from their caregivers. The measure passed 56 percent to 44 percent statewide and 52 percent to 48 percent in San Diego County. However, its use remains illegal under federal law, which also does not recognize the need for medical marijuana as a defense in criminal cases.
via : Sign on San Diego
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