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ACLU Tells U.S. Attorney To Stop Medical Marijuana Threats


uncle sam drug warSan Diego U.S. Attorney Has Been Threatening Government Employees Over Medical Marijuana

By Marcus Boyd

In an ever increasing waste of federal funds to circumvent state medical marijuana laws, last month US Attorney Laura Duffy fired off this threatening letter to City of Del Mar employees. In response late last week the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU) posted an article on their blog titled; “U.S. Attorney Shouldn’t Be Threatening to Prosecute City Employees” and fired this letter back to the US Attorney.

On their blog, the ACLU writes; “The San Diego U.S. Attorney is treading dangerous legal ground with a legal opinion that seems to be threatening Del Mar city employees with prosecution if they comply with an ordinance on medical marijuana up for a vote in November.

Duffy’s intensified war against the civil liberties of sick and dying patients caught the attention of ACLU Legal Director, David Loy, after the director received an email blast and supporting materials from San Diego ASA detailing Duffy’s attempts to threaten lawmakers with federal prosecution for adopting ordinances that regulate dispensaries.

Just last week city officials in Imperial Beach used Duffy’s threatening letter as a reason for the city council to vote down it’s own competing ordinance which would have allowed for one (1) county regulated dispensary to operate in the city. (video)

While the federal government may enforce federal law, it has no business attempting to interfere with local legislative decisions,” said Legal Director Loy.

In further support of her threatening letter, Duffy sent DEA Acting Special Agent Patrick Kelly to politely threaten the Del Mar City Council at the city’s voter initiative public meeting.

“This is just the latest in a series of misleading and inappropriate federal threats to state and local government officials across California and elsewhere,” said Allen Hopper, director of the ACLU of California’s Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Project. “ Local and state officials seeking to responsibly regulate medical marijuana are not violating federal law and should never have to fear prosecution.”

The ACLU letter argues that compliance with the ordinance cannot legitimately expose city employees to liability under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). The courts have expressly rejected the notion that employees are subject to any aiding and abetting or conspiracy theory on which the threatened liability could be based. Because of this legal precedent, the mere act of issuing a permit in compliance with the ordinance would not make Del Mar city employees vulnerable to prosecution.

Representatives of the ACLU are seeking to meet with the U.S. Attorney to discuss the serious issues raised by this case.

Medical marijuana patients and laws have benefited greatly from the ACLU’s efforts locally to protect civil liberties from prohibitionists. From the 2005 San Diego County lawsuit against the State’s Medical Marijuana ID Card Program, to the County’s 2010 attempt to ban dispensaries, to the current threats by the US Attorney, the local ACLU continues to work to protect the rights of patients and providers.

Federally, the ACLU is poised to reengage the U.S. Government’s scientifically untenable position that cannabis has no medicinal value. In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, the ACLU calls on Holder to make clear that the DOJ will not prosecute people complying with state medical marijuana laws.

“In light of the recent series of threatening letters issued by U.S. Attorneys to various state officials in medical marijuana states around the country, we are concerned that DOJ is now asserting an interpretation of the Ogden Memorandum at odds with the government’s representations to the U.S. district court in the Santa Cruz litigation. If, contrary to the assurances its attorneys provided the court in the Santa Cruz case, the federal government’s enforcement policies now include “vigorously enforcing” federal drug laws against individuals and entities who manufacture and distribute marijuana on a completely non-profit basis and in full compliance with state medical marijuana laws, it marks a significant departure from the federal government’s position in the Santa Cruz litigation and could lead to that case being reinstated in its October 2009 posture with discovery proceeding as originally planned.”

San Diego Americans for Safe Access sincerely appreciates the efforts of the local ACLU and we applaud their diligence in protecting the rights of patients and all Americans.

Are you a current ACLU member? What do you mean NO!? Then you need to join or renew or just donate now, your rights, our civil liberties, and freedom for all depend it!

PDF: CA ACLU Letter to US Attorney Duffy

PDF: US Attorney Duffy’s Letter to Del Mar City Attorney

VIDEO: DEA *politely* threatens Del Mar City Council at medical marijuana voter initiative meeting

VIDEO: IB City Council Votes Down It’s Own Medical Marijuana Ordinance

WEB: IB People’s Initiative

WEB: Government’s Scientifically Untenable Position on Cannabis

Source: San Diego ASA


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Johnny Green


  1. To be honest I think Duffy’s letter was not out of line. As the state attorney it is her responsibility to warn them that their actions are federally illegal. Despite her careful wording you can clearly see the outlines of what they hope to enforce and what they consider crossing the line. While they can’t bend enough to admit medical marijuana is real (despite owning a patent for it), they can’t convincingly deny the evidence that some really sick people do in fact need it, so they’ll allow a tightly regulated medical marijuana program for patients with the most serious conditions if the ”collectives” consist of only a few people instead of dispensaries selling a product for cash.

    While I disagree with that approach on several points, I think the requirements they are communicating aren’t out of reach. It would make for an uncomfortably tight system, but it would be enough to help the people that really need it until we can get things changed enough to do more.

    Which brings us to the most pressing point. Why aren’t we looking for any answers? We’re having all these arguments, legal battles, protests, and raids, fighting over this issue as if we’re trying to make our side win, but we haven’t taken a single moment to closely examine the plant to see where the evidence falls. When questions started popping up about cannabinoids and cancer (etc etc) the government should have encouraged research. Their inaction is serious negligence. But so is ours. We have not said loudly and firmly enough that we demand the questions be answered.

    There are times to sit and watch how political twists and turns play out, but this isn’t one of them. It is a sad day when America’s people can so easily swallow the taste of a government that is blatantly ignoring medical evidence and preventing the field from advancing. May it not always be so.

  2. marijuana has been legal in INDIA for over 3000 years..costs the least in the world 8 cents a gram.. the british studied marijuana in 1896 and agfain in 1923 .. NO ILL EFFECTS .. legal in PORTUGAL ITALY AND SPAIN..The CALIFORNIA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION recommends legalization .. WHATS WRONG WITH THE USA.. CHANGE THE GOVERNOR AND THE PRESIDENT ASAP

  3. I used to be a big supporter of the ACLU, even volunteered my business sevices to them on several occasions. But the past 5 or six years, the ACLU’s actions in Washington have totally shocked me. They have offered one BAD piece of cannabis legislation after another while claiming to be pro-cannabis. I KNOW they were notified about the DUI problem long before the petitions were sent out yet they persisted. I have not supported the ACLU and will not as long the people on the Washington State Marijuana Task force continue to work with the orginazation.

  4. On the other hand, the ACLU-WA is trying to criminalize patients who drive, via I-502 and 5ng thc DUI limits. The hypocrisy of it all. On the one hand, the ACLU claims to protect citizens, on the other, they are assisting the exclusive high risk insurance provider with a sure-fire way to bilk even more cash out of residents of the state. Say NO to I-502 and unscientific parameters, before it sets a dangerous and unfair precedent.

    Do the right thing.

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