A medical marijuana bill was vetoed by Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire, partially because of the ardent prosecution of marijuana dispensaries by the U.S. attorney. The U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington, Mike Ormsby, has been shutting down medical marijuana dispensaries. Gregoire maintains that the recent bill would have made it open season for him.
Evergreen state in fight with feds over medical pot
The state of Washington and the federal government have been embroiled in a showdown over medical marijuana dispensaries for some time. Mike Ormsby, the U.S. Attorney for the district of Eastern Washington, is showing little mercy and taking advantage of the vagueness of medical marijuana laws in the state. The Drug Enforcement Agency has been conducting a number of raids throughout the city of Spokane, Wash., targeting medical marijuana dispensaries, with the assistance of the Spokane Police Department, according to local newspaper the Spokesman Review. Spokane, according to the Spokane ABC affiliate KXLY, is home to almost 40 medical marijuana dispensaries. Washington law clearly established in 1998 that medical marijuana use was legal, but the law is unclear about how it can be obtained.
Law vetoed to prevent field day for prosecutor
Christine Gregoire, governor of Washington state, has vetoed a bill regarding medical marijuana dispensaries, according to Reuters. The bill would have established that a state license was required to operate a medical marijuana dispensary and to grow marijuana to sell for medical use. Gregoire noted that U.S. Attorney Ormsby’s office has affirmed it will prosecute any store owner for selling marijuana regardless of state law authorizing it for medical use. Therefore, she decided that signing the bill into law as such would be leading pigeons to the cat and therefore vetoed the bill. The top Democrat lawmakers in the state, according to the Seattle Times, are appealing to the United States Attorney General to seek guidance over the matter.
Washington latest battleground in medical pot dispute
Fifteen states have legalized marijuana for medical use, along with the District of Columbia. The state of Colorado has more than 800 medical marijuana dispensaries. The Justice Department, according to ABC, said two years ago that targeting people who actively follow the law is a waste of resources. The U.S. Attorney’s office maintains that because marijuana is illegal under federal law, anyone who runs any such dispensary can be prosecuted regardless of whether they are in compliance state law. Similar statements are being issued in other states that have laws allowing marijuana use for medical purposes, even though the President of the United States directed the Justice Department to back off from medical marijuana dispensaries in 2009, according to the New York Times.
Spokesman Review: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/apr/28/agents-raid-south-hill-pot-shop/
Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014946500_apwaxgrmedicalmarijuanawa.html
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/us/19holder.html
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