Fed. gov't sued over marijuana crackdown

Baptist Press
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Posted: Oct 28, 2011 6:22 PM
Fed. gov't sued over marijuana crackdown
SAN FRANCISCO (BP) -- The federal government was sued Oct. 27 for its recent crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in California, described as an "unlawful assault on state sovereignty."

Americans for Safe Access, with 20,000 members in the state, cited the 10th Amendment in their lawsuit, which names U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Melina Haag, the U.S. attorney for Northern California, as defendants and was filed in San Francisco.

The 10th Amendment gives legislative authority to states when such authority is not explicitly reserved for the federal government.

The advocacy group said government officials overstepped their constitutional authority by not respecting the way local officials regulate marijuana, the Associated Press reported.

"By directly interfering with the legislative function of the state, they force the state to criminalize activities they do not want to criminalize," Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access, said, according to AP.

In early October, federal prosecutors announced a crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in California, where medicinal marijuana is legal.

Marijuana is legal in 16 states for people with doctors' recommendations, but it remains illegal under federal law. U.S. prosecutors are focusing their efforts on dispensaries that have large operations or are close to areas with children such as schools and sports fields. Letters were sent to those dispensaries and to landlords, ordering them to shut down or face criminal charges and confiscation of property.

Federal officials have said the California law has impacted the nation, citing a federal study that found 72 percent of marijuana plants confiscated nationwide were grown in California.

A Southern Baptist ethicist was encouraged by the Obama administration's decision to enforce federal law regarding marijuana merchants.

"I sympathize with those who simply want to make sure people have every possible means available to them to alleviate their suffering," Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press. "Despite the good intentions of millions of people, reality has set in. Marijuana cannot be adequately regulated to prevent its widespread abuse."

Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach.

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