I have often marveled how federal law enforcement personnel, lawyers and agents, of nearly all types seem to live their professional lives with a “holier than thou” attitude. It is as if they have lived their lives pure of heart and are incapable of making mistakes that so many others do.
Often that air of superiority is based largely on pure hypocrisy. Let’s look at a case in point.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is being accused of threatening doctors associated with medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts. Apparently, the DEA agents are telling these doctors that they will lose their federal license to dispense medications unless they severe ties with marijuana companies.
Several doctors told The Boston Globe and MassLive.com that DEA agents actually visited their homes or offices with the ultimatums.
Dr. Samuel Mazza, on the board of a medical marijuana dispensary, told the Globe that he found multiple messages on his answering machine and a DEA business card on his home door upon returning from vacation in February.
“You either give up your [DEA] license or give up your position on the board … or you challenge it in court,” Mazza, chief executive of Debilitating Medical Conditions Treatment Centers, said DEA investigator Gregory Kelly told him upon making contact.
Mazza’s Debilitating Medical Conditions Treatment Centers was one of first 20 dispensaries to receive preliminary state approval to open a medical marijuana firm. He relinquished his prescription license since, he said, it wasn’t required for his part-time job conducting surgery at a Veterans Affairs hospital.
Another doctor who asked to stay anonymous told the newspaper that he was given the same ultimatum by a DEA agent. He explained that, “The gist was to get me to either relinquish the DEA license, if I insisted on continuing with the dispensary, or give the license up ‘temporarily’ while involved with the dispensary”.
The doctor said he had no choice but to give up his position at the dispensary in order to guarantee his ongoing ability to prescribe other medication.
DEA head Michele Leonhart has not taken lightly the wave of added acceptance marijuana has received in recent years throughout various states in United States. She told Congress in April that marijuana legalization “makes us fight harder.”
Fortunately, it apparently still takes a little effort in order to thwart the will of the people in this land.
Leonhart opposed the US Justice Department when it said in August that it would work with Washington state and Colorado in their efforts to “implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems” after the states had legalized regular marijuana sale and use.
The alleged strong-arming highlights the tension between federal law, which prohibits the use of marijuana, and various state laws that have allowed the sale and use of medical and non-medicinal marijuana. Massachusetts voters agreed to allow medical use of marijuana in the state in 2012.
Late last month, the United States House approved a measure that aims to bar the DEA from spending money to counter medical-marijuana companies that are legal pursuant to a state law.
I suppose we will find out whether that is a law which, if passed, will be followed.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Treating The People, Following The People And Punishing The People
If the above-described tactics were performed by someone other than law enforcement, there would likely be prosecutions for blackmail, extortion and, potentially, racketeering.
“Wait a second, Sam. Wouldn’t the ‘strong-arming’ have to be for a criminal purpose in order for those statutes to apply?”
One would imagine that, since the current marihuana laws are the laws of the land, that threatening to ruin careers of physicians for following that law would be a criminal act.
As any regular reader of this blog knows, this is not the first time that law enforcement officials are found to have performed actions which are criminal acts if committed by you or me. In such cases, however, these officials blanket themselves with the theory the late former president, Richard Nixon, made famous. It contends that an act cannot be considered criminal if the government does it. In those days, the actions in issues included things like breaking and entering, obstruction of Justice and the like.
“Hey, what’s the big deal, Sam? We know that use of marihuana is not legal under federal law.”
The big deal is that the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, among other states, had their say on this subject. The state politicians actually listened and laws were passed. Courts have endorsed these laws.
Marijuana is neither a deadly weapon nor heroine. This is a land in which alcohol, which studies indicate creates more of a threat than marijuana, flows virtually free. Marijuana has been found to be a legitimate medical solution for the suffering by many at the hands of various diseases. These are the findings of medical science and, again, put into effect by the state politicians, courts and the people.
Is the fact that certain zealots in seats of federal power don’t like what medical experts, state legislatures, state courts and the people find reason enough to take these dangerous, if not illegal, actions?
Let’s look at the results which the DEA is apparently achieving (in our name).
We are talking about medical marijuana here. It is for the use of treating suffering in connection with various diseases. The DEA is threatening the misuse of its power to punish legal entities from dispensing the medical marijuana. The power it uses? The ability of medical personnel to not only operate and treat the related diseases, but to also prevent them from treating other diseases through medications that are unquestionably legal under both state and federal law.
The result, clearly, is the punishment not only to the physicians and pharmacies, but to the patients whom they treat. Us. We who do not even have a voice in the ‘punishment” visited on those medically trained.
Perhaps that does not really matter, given the federal government’s (particularly the DEA) apparent respect for the laws that we do pass.
What we have here is nothing short of the inability of the federal government agencies to respect valid and medically-important state laws and, in effect, its punishment of us for daring to disagree.
Perhaps it would not be so bad if this was not done during a time in which insurance companies and new versus old public medical programs are not falling over themselves already to second-guess and replace their judgment for those of medical professionals.
Not so long ago, in a case that still seems to be continuing, there was a great outcry against the Department of Children and Families for their replacing parental rights with their own choices when dealing with the treatment of a young child.. It would appear that federal agents care as much about the medical well-being of citizens as DCF cares about parental rights.
You may be wondering what this diatribe is doing in a criminal law blog.
First of all, I seek to warn you about the status and dangers involved in exercising one’s legal choices as to things like medical marijuana. More to the point, however, is the example of government abuses of power and the need to open the public’s eyes as to its existence.
Still today, when faced with realities of criminal prosecution, I see many clients outraged and shocked that the authorities can “get away with that” in order to support prosecutions.
The fact is that they can “get away with that” and so much more. Merely relying on your knowledge of the law (often based on television, movies and other surface-oriented media) is likely to help you walk right into problems that can damage your entire life. This is why I keep reminding you that you should engage the services of an experienced defense attorney.
It seems to me that, a number of years ago, we broke away from England for a number of reasons, most of which having to do with wanting the to live their lives, within reason, the way they collectively saw fit. The wanted the people to be in control of the nation and the laws. They began as states and finally formed a great union.
I cannot see how it is going to do any of us any good to throw those ideals away for political expectancy or to appease hard-boiled fanatics.
We have already seen plenty of instances when said fanatics gain too much power and end up controlling the people.
For the original story upon which this blog is based, please go to http://rt.com/usa/164356-dea-medical-marijuana-blackmail/