Why are Harris, Newsom, and other pols silent on the federal pot crackdown?

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Why has Kamala Harris said nothing about her buddy Barack Obama's crackdown on California's marijuana industry?
kamalaharris.org

UPDATED BELOW As I worked on this week's story about the federal crackdown on California's marijuana industry, I tried to get a statement from California Attorney General Kamala Harris. After all, it's her job to defend California's medical marijuana laws, which she was fairly supportive of as our district attorney. And she was an early Barack Obama backer who could probably get him or U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on the phone to say, “What the hell are you guys doing? Please, for your own sake and California's, just back off.”

After all, as I reported, this multi-agency federal crackdown could destroy a thriving industry that is pumping billions of dollars into California's economy and employing tens of thousands of people – at a cost of many millions of dollars in enforcement costs to simply destroy the state's top cash crop, ruin the lives of people working in the industry, and strain our already overtaxed court and prison systems.

“It's a policy with no upsides and all downsides,” Steve DeAngelo of Harborside Health Center correctly told me.

But when I finally got Harris' Press Secretary Lynda Gledhill on the phone, she said Harris had nothing to say on the issue. “Nothing?” I asked, “Really?” What about off-the-record, I asked, how does she feel about it and might she make some statement in the future. Again, nothing to say, no comment.

So I tried Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, another San Franciscan who as mayor helped oversee the creation of the city's widely lauded system for regulating the dispensaries, which by all accounts has made it a legitimate and thriving member of the business community. Given Newsom's current obession with job creation and how hungry he's been for attention, surely he'd have something to say in defense of the good jobs that this sustainable industry has created in California. Again, nothing. I haven't even gotten a call back yet from his press secretary, Francisco Castillo.

Also, no public statements have been issued by Mayor Ed Lee, David Chiu, or most other mayoral candidates who have put “jobs” at the center of their agendas – or from the SF Chamber of Commerce or other business groups that regularly deride bad government actions as “job killers – despite this move by the Obama Administration to destroy an important industry in California.

The only major politician from San Francisco (SEE UPDATE BELOW) to come out strongly against the federal crackdown was Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, author of measures to legalize and tax marijuana, who put out the following statement: “I am bitterly disappointed in the Obama Administration for this unwarranted and destructive attack on medical marijuana and patients’ rights to medicine.  Today’s announcement by the Department of Justice means that Obama’s medical marijuana policies are worse than Bush and Clinton.  It’s a tragic return to failed policies that will cost the state millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives. 16 states along with the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws - whatever happened to the promises he made on the campaign trail to not prosecute medical marijuana or the 2009 DOJ memo saying that states with medical marijuana laws would not be prosecuted?  Change we can believe in?  Instead we get more of the same.”

But from most of the politicians who claim to support both jobs and the right of patients to access medical marijuana, we also get more of the same. They pander to people's economic insecurities in order to give corporations and wealthy what they want – tax cuts, deregulation, union-busting, corporate welfare -- but aren't willing to risk any political capital defending the rest of us.

UPDATE (11/13): San Francisco's other two representatives in the Legislature have also criticized the crackdown.

 

Sen. Leland Yee put out a statement saying: “Medical marijuana dispensaries are helping our economy, creating jobs, and most importantly, providing a necessary service for suffering patients. There are real issues and real problems that the US Attorney’s Office should be focused on rather than using their limited resources to prosecute legitimate businesses or newspapers. Like S-Comm, our law enforcement agencies – both state and local – should not assist in this unnecessary action. Shutting down state-authorized dispensaries will cost California billions of dollars and unfairly harm thousands of lives.”

Sen. Mark Leno, another medical marijuana support, also criticized the move. He told the Los Angeles Times, “"The concern here is that the intimidation factor will directly impact safe and affordable access for patients.” And he told Associated Press, “"I don't understand the politics of it, and certainly if we haven't learned anything over the past century, it's that Prohibition does not work.”

Comments

I have no view on whether pot should be legal, and don't really care either way. But I do think the State's DA should advocate for the State's laws.

Perhaps she has Federal ambitions? But it's Jerry's job to tell her what to do, and I feel sure he's smoked a whole lot of pot in his time.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

She always has. Her goal from the moment she was elected SF DA was to run for CA AG, then onto Governor and then the Presidency. She's never made a pretense otherwise. So every single thing she does is predicated on how it's going to look to a far wider audience than here in SF or even California.

There's a reason she barely scraped into office last time - her ambition is grossly clear and it's off-putting, so when every other federal and statewide Democrat in CA did exceedingly well she almost didn't make it. She's been pretty good so far (except on this issue) particularly in pulling CA out of the mortgage investigation because she felt like it was giving away too much to the banks. But she's got a long way to go.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

On the one side is the Red White and Blue.. Save the children and Gawd bless American drones.

On the other side seems to be.. Hey get off of my cloud because I make a lot of money selling basically an illegal product under a niche of law..

So what about the little people.. You know.. The citizen who would like to grow the interesting and enjoyable plant cannabis?

What about the people who dedicate their free time breeding and advancing the plant Cannabis ?

Why do we face being fired on the job for being lawful Medical people?

Until California grants the people rights to grow use and share in non-commercial ways it's pointless to argue if the Government is bad or that our legal dispensaries are just drug dealers..

It's about billions in trade be it legal which is a threat or illegal which has been going strong for decades.

Posted by Ernst on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

On the one side is the Red White and Blue.. Save the children and Gawd bless American drones.

On the other side seems to be.. Hey get off of my cloud because I make a lot of money selling basically an illegal product under a niche of law..

So what about the little people.. You know.. The citizen who would like to grow the interesting and enjoyable plant cannabis?

What about the people who dedicate their free time breeding and advancing the plant Cannabis ?

Why do we face being fired on the job for being lawful Medical people?

Until California grants the people rights to grow use and share in non-commercial ways it's pointless to argue if the Government is bad or that our legal dispensaries are just drug dealers..

It's about billions in trade be it legal which is a threat or illegal which has been going strong for decades.

Posted by Ernst on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

Here's a thought: Maybe these people know something about addiction. They know that addiction is not easily overcome and that addiction is a bane on society. They know that medical marijuana dispensaries are perceived by the public as fronts for recreational usage. They know that the mind is the most precious gift a person has and to inject substances into the brain, is not a good idea for that person, for that person's family, for society Legalizing marijuana usage is one of those half baked ideas that only a pot head would like. People with critical faculties intact know the downside of marijuana usage.

Posted by StevenTorrey on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 7:12 am

@ Here's a thought: Maybe: Do you have any prof that cannabis is addicting? or that it has permanant damage to the brain? or are you just stating what has been stated for years but again...without any proof?! I am a Neurologist, I dont use cannabis, nor do I Drink alcohol. I do however advocate the use for medical as well as recreational. I have seen the effects on the brain first hand from alcohol use and as well as cannabis and the difference is astonishing. people who only use cannabis show much more NORMAL brain activity and those who Drink Alcohol (on a regular basis) there is much less brain activity. and just for the SIMPLE SCIETIFIC FACT.....that CANABIS KILLS CANCER cells of the brain and many others is reason enough for me to be PRO CANNABIS! and this is coming from a non user of cannabis. I just know how to read and use common sense.....

Posted by INSANE! on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 8:38 am

When "these people" in the federal government commissioned a study of marijuana in the early '70s, the experts found it was not addictive or dangerous. But the Nixon Administration wanted a weapon to go after the counterculture and a way to expand federal policing powers, so they suppressed the report, listed it as a Schedule 1 narcotic, and launched the long war on drugs. Clearly, by any measure, it's been an unsuccessful waste of resources. If you really want to help people's brains, limit the amount of television they watch -- particularly Fox News, which has completely brainwashed my grandparents and many others, filling them with delusionsal ideas about how this country operates -- which drains this country's productivity and "critical faculties" far more than pot.

Posted by steven on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 9:57 am

"They know that the mind is the most precious gift a person has and to inject substances into the brain, is not a good idea for that person, for that person's family, for society"

Arguably neither are television, Doritos, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, pornography, steroids, pain pills, cough medicine, energy drinks, violent sports, etc etc

I don't really need someone to tell me marijuana is bad for me. I'm an adult. Especially not while I sit here in the city inhaling car exhaust and watching drunk people fight. You're point of view is very shallow and doesn't seem to consider the larger picture. I'm not even a pot user. Get your head out of the clouds.

Posted by Cade on Oct. 14, 2011 @ 9:52 pm

If you are responsible about what you put into your body, thats all fine and well. I hope you drink raw milk and eat almonds and broccoli every day or whatever. I hope you read books and get good exercise. And live in the woods in nature with all the kind critters of the forest. Good for you. Good for your brain. However, not everyone is privy to that sort of living. In fact, not everyone can afford that sort of living. So instead of making laws to restrict others' freedom, how about you go out there, go to college, open a health facility or some ish, educate people in a positive way, and contribute to our society in a way that counts. Making more laws is a lazy and cowardly way of getting things done.
If marijuana is illegal to protect us and our brains, then why the heck isn't anything being done about MSG in food and pollutant fuels and fast-time childrens' television? And what about the thousands of deaths cause by alcohol in vehicular accidents? It doesnt make a lick of sense, son. It simply doesn't. You are probably somewhat sheltered; Not having had to endure very real and very persistent pain. Marijuana saves lives. And hemp as an industrial fiber has the potential to save lives as well, and millions of tax payers' dollars. Educate yourself soon. What are you, in your 20s?

Really, anything can be a gate-way drug. The idea of a gate-way drug is not the drug its-self, but the people with which one begins to associate once introduced to that drug. Cigarettes are arguably the greatest of gate-way drugs, as it is most readily available, and is the nearly effortless beginning of teenage rebellion. These are matters of personal responsibility, and self-control. Matters of parenting. It should bot be dictated by a public policy.
My community is ravaged by addiction. Addiction to pain pills and muscle relaxers such as oxycotton, oxycodine, vicodin. Behavioral pills such as aderol are traded among children like candy. Snorted through dollar bills, lending to a lifetime of powdered drug use. These are all legal medical drugs. Kids are finding their gateway in the doctors office and at school. I would, on any day, rather my children accidentally get addicted to pot in a drum circle than to become any sort of pill popper/porn addict/alcoholic/television junkie. But luckily for me, my kids are smart cookies. I didnt need mommy government to step in and teach or dictate them.

Posted by Roger and Ruth Mclean on Oct. 14, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

In this modern age we live it's quite astounding to hear such ill-informed nonsense.

Posted by Tim Daw on Oct. 17, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

@ Here's a thought: Maybe: Do you have any prof that cannabis is addicting? or that it has permanent damage to the brain? or are you just stating what has been stated for years but again...without any proof?! I am a Neurologist, I dont use cannabis, nor do I Drink alcohol. I do however advocate the use for medical as well as recreational. I have seen the effects on the brain first hand from alcohol use and as well as cannabis and the difference is astonishing. people who only use cannabis show much more NORMAL brain activity and those who Drink Alcohol (on a regular basis) there is much less brain activity. and just for the SIMPLE SCIETIFIC FACT.....that CANABIS KILLS CANCER cells of the brain and many others is reason enough for me to be PRO CANNABIS! and this is coming from a non user of cannabis. I just know how to read and use common sense.....

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 8:40 am

I sorta like 'insane' as your handle. Responsible addiction therapists know that marijuana is addictive, much more addictive than that used in the 60s and 70s. I'm also going with police who think that it is a 'gateway' drug; the user will move on to other addictive substances. Maybe not. But Mom and Pop don't know where little Johnie's or Susie's recreational use of marijuana is going to end; they cannot be certain,that this is it. While medical marijuana may have medicinal value for many people, there is a sense that these dispensaries are granting medical marijuana cards way too easy and that the dispensaries are being abused by those not debilitated by illness. I just finished reading about the Petit family murders in Connecticut. Two psychos killed a family in a gruesome fashion--drug usage was part of the psychos' life-style. I gotta wonder whether they started their drug usage with marijuana. Just asking. Any one who has a child, should be concerned if their children were recreational users; children who do not understand the long rang health impact of marijuana. It's not as innocuous as people want to believe. The ability to concentrate, the ability to sit still for long periods of time is a value society holds; to lose that capacity is a detriment to society.

Posted by StevenTorrey on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

Your posts are completely irresponsible. The issue here is cannabis for medical use while you're posting drivel suggesting that cannabis caused psychosis leading to a murderous rampage. The fact that you state dispensaries issue recommendation in itself destroys any chance of your posts being credible. If you condone the denial access for people like me (clinically diagnosed autistic) then just say so and spare us from having to read your drivel.

Posted by Rascal on Oct. 14, 2011 @ 12:53 am

I've read your posts and I'm calling troll. Your ideas are so off the mark they've never been popular. You are a troll. Everybody stop feeding him.

Posted by Tim Daw on Oct. 17, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

most people are hand fed what they know about cannabis. before making a statement about how wrong evil addicting harmful it is... do some searching for info.

try here - http://boards.cannabis.com/medicinal-cannabis-health/161539-granny-storm...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 9:20 am

Or maybe there is other reasons....... I know that the 'Notice' of which SUNKE Temple Trust has put them and the entire establishment world system of things on, has them all quite a bit on edge....... if you dare to look from another point of view check out the website... there sure is a wealth of knowledge there. www.sunketempletrust.com enjoy I sure do ;0)

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 11:32 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) issued the following statement after federal officials announced they will begin shutting down medical marijuana dispensaries and prosecuting newspapers that run advertisements from such businesses:

“Medical marijuana dispensaries are helping our economy, creating jobs, and most importantly, providing a necessary service for suffering patients. There are real issues and real problems that the US Attorney’s Office should be focused on rather than using their limited resources to prosecute legitimate businesses or newspapers. Like S-Comm, our law enforcement agencies – both state and local – should not assist in this unnecessary action. Shutting down state-authorized dispensaries will cost California billions of dollars and unfairly harm thousands of lives.”

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Posted by AK on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

Because they know that the fed is well within it's "rights" to do these things?

Bay Guardian/American leftist opportunism.

Barry Goldwater was right as it turns out, much to the dismay of the left, the more power you hand over to the state, the more power they have to harass you.

Posted by meatsack on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

From overbearing bureaucrats while receiving services you pay for.
Maybe you should stop by Occupy SF and get a lesson.

Posted by meatsack on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

¡MIRA MIRA!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 8:19 pm

ravings.

Posted by meatsack on Oct. 14, 2011 @ 1:44 am

What's sad is that Harris was voted into that job by medical marijuana patients. I didn't think anyone could forget how close that race was, especially her. I wish I could take back my vote for Obama but you can bet that he won't be getting another one from me in the next election. Why he would sell out and alienate his strongest supporters to prove that he's tough on drugs to a bunch of republicans who will never vote for him anyway is baffling. The best thing he could do right now is end the raids and fire the idiots who gave him the advice in the 1st place. But the damage is done and I think Obama just sealed his fate to one term. California isn't the only MMJ state and I'm willing to bet that the patients in other states are watching. It's not that he's supporting these raids, it's that he's waving a flag that says hypocrite. It's just really sad that people like me are forced to buy our medicine on the streets because of these nonsensical policies. I am an 'older' adult diagnosed with autism and my choices are either cannabis for complete relief of depression and anxiety with ZERO side effects, or pharmaceuticals that turn me into an emotional and cognitive vegetable. Which would you choose? There are many many patients much worse off than me. Dust off your resume Mr. President.

Posted by Rascal on Oct. 14, 2011 @ 12:42 am

JUST FYI.
Interesting article in latest edition of my neighborhood broadsheet, the venerable Noe Valley Voice. Hope link works.
http://www.noevalleyvoice.com/2011/October/Pot.htm

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Oct. 15, 2011 @ 8:38 am

There has been no significant change in policy. The Feds are still doing what they have always done.

All Melinda Haag did, was announce that the Federal government will now be enforcing the zoning regulations, of communities that failed to set appropriate regulations, in the first place.

The dispensaries have been sent letters, telling them to close, in 45 days...this is a far cry, from a "crackdown". They will simply re-locate, or become delivery services.

Leaning on banks & landlords is nothing new...they have been doing this for years.

Banning advertising in publications constitutes a violation of the 1st Amendment, if you ask me.

And the problem with the IRS's approach, is that they are lending the industry credibility, by cashing their revenue checks...this is counter-productive, to everything else they are doing, with respect to eliminating medical marijuana!

Some "crackdown"...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 1:23 pm