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California Medical Marijuana Provider Is Another Victim Of Prohibition

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matthew davies medical marijuana prison californiaBy Morgan Fox, Marijuana Policy Project

Today’s New York Times includes a feature story about California medical marijuana provider Matthew Davies, who federal prosecutors are pressuring to accept a five-year mandatory minimum as a plea agreement. Federal authorities indicted Matthew last year on charges of marijuana cultivation, calling him “one of the most significant commercial marijuana traffickers to be prosecuted in this district.”

By all accounts, the two dispensaries Matthew owned were in total compliance with state law and were models of professionalism and service.

He brought graduate-level business skills to a world decidedly operating in the shadows. He hired accountants, compliance lawyers, managers, a staff of 75 and a payroll firm. He paid California sales tax and filed for state and local business permits.

“This is not a case of an illicit drug ring under the guise of medical marijuana,” [his attorney]wrote. “Here, marijuana was provided to qualified adult patients with a medical recommendation from a licensed physician. Records were kept, proceeds were tracked, payroll and sales taxes were duly paid.”

Does this sound like a dangerous criminal who we should spend federal resources to arrest, prosecute, and possibly jail? Medical marijuana providers who followed state law, like Matthew, weren’t supposed to be the targets of federal attack and provide an excellent example for others in the industry. Nevertheless, he is facing a significant amount of time in jail regardless of whether he takes the plea, which will surely take a serious toll on him and his family.

“To be looking at 15 years of our life, you couldn’t pay me enough to give that up,” Mr. Davies said at the dining room table in his two-story home along the San Joaquin River Delta, referring to the amount of time he could potentially serve in prison.

Matthew and his family are not taking this lying down. Matthew’s wife Molly published this open letter to President Obama today in the Huffington Post. You can find out more about Matthew’s case and how you can help at http://www.keepmattfree.org/.

Source: Marijuana Policy Project

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  1. Students enrolled in People Power and the
    Media class at Columbia College Chicago were given the opportunity to research
    a topic and to share their opinion in the public domain via blog and
    podcast. The topic selected was
    the controversial medical marijuana dispensaries in California and the clash
    between state and federal drug laws.

    This is their blog:

    The investigation of business owner, Matthew
    Davies, began in September of 2011 after a routine traffic stop where Davies
    was pulled over for speeding. From there, Davies told the officer he was
    responding to an alarm at his medical marijuana warehouse. This was just one
    incident in the chain of events that led up to Davies’ arrest even though he
    was allegedly following the California state law for his medical marijuana
    dispensary. He is now facing a minimum of ten years in prison after being
    indicted by the Federal Government. This situation is very unfortunate for
    something that is so unclear. California exercised the state’s reserved power
    to not punish medical marijuana users and distributers when recommended by a
    doctor, so they are not in any violation with the Federal Controlled Substance
    Act.

    The Federal Controlled Substance Act deemed
    marijuana, as a drug with “no currently accepted medical use,” however, there
    is research available proving otherwise.
    The University of California, San Francisco, conducted studies in
    December of 2011 where inhaling cannabis reduces pain significantly and can
    reduce the medical side effects including nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite
    from heavy medication such as morphine and oxycodone.

    It’s also understood that the Federal Government has the
    right to overrule any state law that contradicts Federal law due to the “Supremacy
    law,” which is Article VI, Clause 2, of the United States Constitution.
    However, the mere fact that the Federal Government’s stance on the use and
    distribution of medical marijuana being far different than the state of
    California’s stance needs to be addressed, ASAP.

    In the early days of the Obama
    Administration, Attorney General, Eric H. Holder Jr., announced that medical
    marijuana users and caregivers would not be targeted, according to a Washington Post article in 2009.
    California voters approved the sale of medicinal marijuana according to the
    Compassionate Use Act of 1996. What makes this unclear is that Federal law
    should not be able to “trump” state law – it is a separate jurisdiction.
    According to the New York Times, the
    Federal Government could sue the states on the grounds that any effort to
    regulate marijuana is pre-empted by Federal law, but such a severe response
    could raise complications for the Obama Administration.

    It is sensible for the Federal Government
    to get involved if and when medical marijuana dispensaries are operating
    illegally. If the Federal Government
    sees the distribution of selling medical marijuana illegal, they need to
    address the businesses doing it illegally rather than raiding the dispensaries
    of professional doctors and managers. It is undeniable that time and money
    would have been better spent if the Government shut down the dispensaries
    throughout California that were selling marijuana illegally to minors and
    non-patients. With that said, Matthew Davies was the operator of a legally
    owned dispensary and is therefore being unlawfully prosecuted. Our call to
    action is that the Federal Government needs to find an equal balance with state
    laws in order to prevent innocent people from being wrongly accused.

    Respectfully,

    Margaret, Emily, Jessica, Ramon, Kyra,
    Ashleigh, Bridget, and Molly, members of the People Power in the Media course
    taught by Hope Daniels, Associate Professor/Teaching Fellow, School of Media
    Arts, Columbia College Chicago.

  2. Feel that feds are coming down on successful dispensaries to cut off the money. Money and minds will end prohibition.

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