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MMJ: No Imminent Threat To State Employees

By admin | August 7, 2011

MMJ: No Imminent Threat To State Employees

The Justice Department is now downplaying its threat to prosecute state employees who regulate or license purveyors of medical marijuana.

Recall the April 14 letter from U.S. Attorneys Jenny Durkan in Seattle and Michael Ormsby in Spokane to Gov. Chris Gregoire regarding the medical marijuana bill then in the Legislature.

They said the people in the medical cannabis trade might be prosecuted under federal law. And then, noting that the bill would involve state employees as regulators, the U.S. attorneys said:

“State employees… would not be immune from liability…”

It was a vague threat. These sorts of letters are carefully worded, and the vagueness was on purpose. The government was reserving the right to prosecute, which of course it already had. But it was not declaring an intent to do so. Still, Gregoire cited this statement as the reason to veto the parts of the bill licensing growers, processors and distributors.

Now comes Arizona, where voters last year passed a medical cannabis law. The state filed a federal court action asking for a clarification of federal law. The Justice Department’s response, here, presents several reasons why the court should dismiss the case without answering the question. And one of those reasons is that the Justice Department never made any genuine threat to prosecute state employees.

In the government’s court papers it calls the threat to Arizona employees “mere speculation.” It also notes that U.S. attorneys sent out letters in other states, but says none of these “genuinely threatens imminent prosecution.”

Back in April, a number of people here said as much. It would have been helpful to them had the government said then what it says now.

Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Author: Bruce Ramsey
Published: August 5, 2011
Copyright: 2011 The Seattle Times Company

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