Hard to believe it's been only two years since Attorney General Eric Holder shocked — and relieved — California's medical marijuana users when he said the federal government had no interest in prosecuting state-legal cannabis activities. The Bush Era was over — no more doors kicked in by Kevlar-clad storm troopers or cancer patients dragged into court for six plants.
There have been indeed fewer boots through doors, but it appears the federal government's goal hasn't changed — merely its tactics.
This year alone, the Justice Department has imprisoned a growing number of state law-abiding growers and dispensary operators. The Internal Revenue Service has determined that dispensaries can't claim the cost of their product on their taxes; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms decided medical marijuana users can't use guns; every major financial institution has closed down medical marijuana-related accounts, leaving dispensaries with no banking options, and just this week, a cease-and-desist letter from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag showed up in some dispensaries' landlords' mailboxes. It informed them that their properties could be forfeited and their tenants could be thrown in prison for 40 years unless the dispensaries close.
Welcome to the new war on medical marijuana, waged by lawyers and accountants instead of police.