Calif. U.S. Attorney Defends Feds Medical Marijuana Crackdown

NBC News Los Angeles interviewed Andre Birotte Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California (Los Angeles) this weekend on the recent federal crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries, their landlords and banks that do business with them.

According to Birotte, the crackdowns are on those who are making a profit, which is against California law. He insists they are only going after the profiteers since they are not in compliance with state law. His soundbite: "The compassionate use act has turned into the commercial use act." [More...]

As to landlords, he justified the civil forfeiture lawsuits saying they were warned first that their tenants are violating state law, but were ignored.

One million people in California have medical marijuana licenses. He insists they are only going after those who are in "clear violation" of state and federal law.

You can watch the interview here. (Interesting sidenote: After he answered the first question, the news interviewer asks him to stop and straighten his jacket. He stands and does so, sits down and they start all over with the first question. To miss that part and just view the final interview, start at 3:00 minutes. I'm surprised they didn't cut out the first two minutes. )

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  • Display: Sort:
    US Attorney supports Fed Crackdown on Marijuana (none / 0) (#1)
    by Daniel on Sun Oct 23, 2011 at 05:39:03 PM EST
    The man's a lying toady. I think we need to ask ourselves why the Obama Admin is cracking down on pot growers, pot clubs, landlords who lease to pot clubs etc. In other words, what's in it for them, and why now?
    Frankly, I know it's politics but it doesn't make sense to me as a large majority of americans are in favor of it's legalization. There is NO substantive survey worth anything that can prove ANY negative effects of marijuana ongoingly. But there ARE studies that show how it can help a slew of things,from glaucoma, to anxiety, to pain, neuropathy, and many many more medical issues. I find it interesting that so called conservatives rally to ban these laws and clubs, but so called true conservatives believe in true individual liberty. Does anyone remember the often annoying William F. Buckley jr?

    Big Pharma (none / 0) (#2)
    by sj on Sun Oct 23, 2011 at 07:54:17 PM EST
    It's proving to be too effective and is cutting into profits.

    so called conservatives (none / 0) (#3)
    by Rojas on Sun Oct 23, 2011 at 08:59:47 PM EST
    Birotte was recommended by Feinstein.
    Send her your cash.

    priorities (none / 0) (#4)
    by womanwarrior on Sun Oct 23, 2011 at 11:32:08 PM EST
    There must be worse crimes that the feds should be spending their time and money on in California.  What are they trying to distract from?  H'mm, Wells Fargo and BOA have large presence there, no?

    Fair observation (none / 0) (#5)
    by Rojas on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 06:56:39 AM EST
    Birotte has the resume. Joined the DOJ in 95 and learned to punch hippies. Left for white collar defense. Back with the DOJ and hippie punching. A real renaissance man that knows who butters the bread. I expect he will go far.

    civil forfeiture (none / 0) (#6)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 09:22:59 AM EST

    As to landlords, he justified the civil forfeiture lawsuits saying they were warned first that their tenants are violating state law, but were ignored.

    Civil forfeiture is an abomination and should only ever be used against a party actually convicted of a crime.  Note that in this case mere assertion that the law is being violated is enough to trigger forfeiture.

    I will bet you $1,000 against a bent beer bottle cap that at least tenant of the Empire State building is violating state law in one way or another.

    Interesting that the US Atty would think (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Peter G on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 10:06:30 AM EST
    it appropriate to "warn" a landlord that a tenant is violating state drug law, which the U.S. has no authority to enforce. What his comment confirms is that federal policy in California -- which imho the administration has not communicated well at all -- is to refrain from enforcing the federal law against anyone whom they deem to be complying in good faith with the state MMD law. I wonder if it's the perception of California practitioners that the feds are in fact acting in conformity with that policy.

    Where's the money for all this coming from? (none / 0) (#8)
    by SeeEmDee on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 12:25:19 PM EST
    I thought we were in the throes of a near-universal fiscal meltdown, and Armageddon was pounding on the door with a sledge? What gives? No money for the desperately unemployed, whose benefits have run out, but scads, and oodles and wads of money for this? Does anyone else find this confusing?

    Where is the transparency? (none / 0) (#9)
    by diogenes on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 08:57:37 PM EST
    "One million people in California have medical marijuana licenses"

    I somehow doubt that one million people in California meet stringent medical criteria requiring compassionate use of marijuana because all other medical treatments failed.
    Much better to be honest about it and legalize marijuana if you want to.  The concept of "medical marijuana licenses" breeds contempt for the law.

    please, there's no (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 09:53:54 PM EST
    requirement that all other medical treatment has failed. You really need to stop posting false legal information. From the California Medical Association:

    To be eligible for a medical cannabis card a patient must apply through his or her county of residence and the medical records must contain written documentation by the attending physician that the patient has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition and that the medicinal use of cannabis is appropriate.

    And from the State of California Medical Board:

    These accepted standards are the same as any reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending or approving any other medication, and include the following:

        * History and an appropriate prior examination of the patient.
        * Development of a treatment plan with objectives.
        * Provision of informed consent including discussion of side effects.
        * Periodic review of the treatment's efficacy.
        * Consultation, as necessary.
        * Proper record keeping that supports the decision to recommend the use of medical marijuana.

    In other words, if physicians use the same care in recommending medical marijuana to patients as they would recommending or approving any other medication, they have nothing to fear from the Medical Board.

    There's no heightened requirement for prescribing marijuana let alone a requirement that other treatments have failed.