The Feds Get Involved

Dominic Holden has the latest on the Lifevine case. Last Friday, the DEA, at the direction of U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan, took the stolen medicine from the Seattle Police Department and now plans to destroy it. There are still no plans to charge anyone because, as everyone already knows, the person who possessed the marijuana wasn’t in violation of any laws. Curiously, the amount the DEA claims SPD turned over to them is over 3 times as much as what Martin claims was stolen. I’ll post up a follow-up if I find out more.

UPDATE: More here. The reason for the discrepancy in the amount that was seized by the DEA comes from the fact that they’re also counting the non-medicinal plant materials that were seized.

UDPATE 2: Via e-mail, Geov pointed me to a Seattle Weekly story from back when they were relevant, where U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan was quoted:

Jeff Sullivan, chief of the criminal division of the Western Washington U.S. attorney’s office, says that not one federal case has been brought against a medical marijuana operation since the law’s passage. “With limited resources, we are looking at large-scale trafficking and not medical marijuana,” Sullivan says.

As Dominic had already pointed out, this was not standard procedure for our local U.S. Attorney’s office. They acted on this in response to the attention it was getting from a public that is increasingly upset about how much the Federal government’s archaic and unfounded views on marijuana interfere with sensible local laws.


  1. 3

    proud leftist spews:

    Let’s legalize and tax it. I can’t believe marijuana is still an issue in this society. Of course, I guess, John McCain is the Republican nominee for president. Do we ever make any progress in this nation?

  2. 4

    Mark1 spews:

    Stoner Lee:

    ….’stolen medicine’…. which even though some States have passed mary-jane laws, still do not apply/coincide with Federal laws. DEA=Drug Enforcement Administration, which is a Federal Agency, last time I checked. So, hence State laws do not apply. Do the world a favor Lee;

    1.)Grow up, college (if you went) and high school were a long time ago-

    2.) Move to an “accepting” country like Amsterdam

    3.) Quit whining, and merry travels. ‘Bye.

  3. 5

    ByeByeGOP spews:

    Remember when the right wing turds said they were for LESS government? Remember when they said people should be able to control their own lives? Remember that? Remember when they said they were for state rights? Maybe not so much eh?

    I guess in this instance (as in so many others) the righties are the ones who believe in big government.

  4. 7


    1.)Grow up, college (if you went)

    I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering.

    2.) Move to an “accepting” country like Amsterdam

    No, I’m an American, and I’m proud to be an American. I’m going to return America to its roots, rather than allow it to be transformed into the Middle Eastern theocracy that you desire.

    3.) Quit whining, and merry travels.

    I believe the whining being done around here is in comment 4.

  5. 8


    That is a whole lot of fuss for a little bit of pot.

    It’s more than a little bit, sadly. 12 ounces, if forced to be acquired on the black market, would cost Martin several thousand dollars. I’m not sure if he’s had to do that, but I do know that he sent an email to an email distribution list that I’m on saying that he’s enduring some financial difficulties right now (but that could be related to the damage to his office and having to move as well). I may actually try to pay him a visit today.

    I’m just stunned that all of this happened right here in Seattle. We should be long past this shit. This ain’t Mississippi.

  6. 9

    Stephen Schwartz spews:


    Can you clarify? Is this correct?

    The SPD turned over about 36 gm marijuana to the Feds. Of this Martin claims he was entitled under the medical marijuana law to hold 12 oz.

  7. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    My understanding is that state laws legalizing medicinal use of marijuana are superseded by federal laws prohibiting the possession or use of marijuana in any quantity for any reason, therefore state attempts to legalize medicinal marijuna are ineffective under the preemption doctrine, and federal authorities are interceding (as they have in California and elsewhere) to enforce federal policy that precludes medicinal use of marijuana — am I wrong about this?

    Whether federal law enforcement should be investing so much time and taxpayer resources in a case like this, while the Bush administration refuses to replace the 1,100 FBI agents moved from domestic crime fighting to anti-terrorism duties, allowing everyone from bank robbers to identity thieves to run amok unmolested by law enforcement or prosecution, is of course another issue … certainly, the Busheviks have their priorities seriously fucked up.

    But, that’s par for the course where Republicans are concerned …

  8. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    It’s probably press coverage that’s getting DEA attention in this case. The Bush administration is extremely oriented to publicity, usually to the exclusion of all substantive considerations. For example, the Pentagon has been quietly discharging deserters (of which there are thousands), prosecuting only soldiers who go public with anti-war views. People like Lt. Watanabe are court-martialed not for refusing to deploy to Iraq, but for calling a press conference and publicly saying (in so many polite words) the commander guy’s war policy is a clusterfuck. This thin-skinned administration can’t face the truth about its mistakes and failures.

  9. 12


    The SPD turned over about 36 gm marijuana to the Feds. Of this Martin claims he was entitled under the medical marijuana law to hold 12 oz.

    See the update. They turned over 12 ounces of medicine and about 2 pounds of extraneous marijuana plant material (leaves, stems, etc).

  10. 13


    That’s correct, although as Dominic points out in his post, the Feds don’t concern themselves with possession cases – as that would overload them to the point of inanity. This was an exception to that rule (albeit an unwritten one).

    I obviously have very big problems with the Supreme Court ruling that allowed for Federal intervention to continue (it should’ve been a sign to the more liberal judges that they were making a mistake when Scalia was agreeing with them), but that’s technically the law right now, even if in the eyes of the state and city, Martin violated no laws.

  11. 15

    SeattleJew spews:



    Please explain to a non afficonado. Does this mean 12 oz buds and 12 oz of other parts of the plant?

    HOw does the law work? Is one allowed to possess 12 pounds of in tota or 12 pounds of buds plus the rest.

    BTW ..

    On a positive note, I have asked before, are there knonw psychiatric benefits of MJ?

  12. 16


    Please explain to a non afficonado. Does this mean 12 oz buds and 12 oz of other parts of the plant?

    Yes. Actually, it was more of “other parts of the plant”.

    HOw does the law work?

    The law, as I understand it, only refers to the medicinal part of the plant (the buds).

    On a positive note, I have asked before, are there knonw psychiatric benefits of MJ?

    You may not have seen my other response, so I’ll respond again here. The psychiatric benefits of marijuana are far less understood from a scientific perspective that their effects on the body when it comes to fighting pain, intestinal ailments, etc.

    From my own personal experience, the way it affects people physically tends not to vary much from person to person. How it affects people mentally can vary greatly. This is arguably a big, big reason why the drug is so misunderstood in the first place.

    Again, from my own personal experience, I find that marijuana has been a great benefit for me from a mental and psychological standpoint, both short-term and long-term. Obviously one cannot draw broad-based conclusions from my experience alone, but considering that I’m far from alone, the common belief that marijuana is always dangerous from a mental health standpoint is clearly not true.

  13. 17

    SeattleJew spews:


    I think we may have common ground in your last point. Drug companies go to great lengths to identify compounds they can prove ameliorate what once must have been viewed as purely :mental” problems. Today we treat awareness, depression, memory, anger disorder, etc.

    Yet, the traditional pharmacopoeia for affect is obviously huge … did your bubbi ever make you a glassel tea or a warm glass of milk?

    I too have known many people who see pot, chocolate or cognac as a positive psychological agent. The same can, and perhaps should be said in defence of tobacco. Would Hemingway have been Hemingway without his cigars?

    So here is a thought, I wonder if there might not be interest among the psychiatrists in that sprt of study?

    BTW ..

    In our repartee, on argument you have never used (but could) is that science itself is NOT without bias. Hans Popper is the famous proponent of this idea. So, in the case of MJ, huge efforts have been made to prove that it is NOT harmful. For the most part that effort has suceeded, BUT, much less effort has been made to test the opposite hypothesis that MJ has a
    psychological benefit.

    Of course any effort of this sort must be fostered by proponents of marijuana.

  14. 18

    ArtFart spews:

    Can’t help but wonder, given the “revelations” in Congressional hearings over the last week, when Jeff Sullivan (or whoever writes his marching orders) joined the Justice Department, and whether he passed the “Monica test”.

  15. 19


    So here is a thought, I wonder if there might not be interest among the psychiatrists in that sprt of study?

    I’m sure there is, and I’m sure it’s been attempted.

  16. 20

    SeattleJew spews:

    I would not be too sure. Drug trials are hard to do, esp. behavioural trials, require a well defined hypothesis, and are almost always very expensive.

    So, to undertake such a trial, a scientist would need to be convinced that the chance of a positive result was very high, to sell it to the NIH would require even more certainty. There is little room for just taking a fliver.

    I would think that such an effort would require:

    a. an investigator well trained in behavioural or physiological psych.

    b. rsources for pilot studies.

    c. some way of winnowing the vast experiential literature to define a hypothesis.

  17. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @13 Federal preemption is a technical and arcane subject that can be quite interesting if you can manage not to get distracted by the substance of the case.

  18. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @18 Sullivan was an elected Republican prosecutor in Yakima County for many years who was chiefly famous for never seeking the death penalty (probably more for fiscal than philosophical reasons). A few years ago, he gave up his elective post to accept a position with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle — as a hireling, albeit a high ranking one (he didn’t exactly come in as an entry-level attorney). When John McKay was fired, Sullivan was appointed as interim U.S. Attorney, which later was made permanent. I’m sure the fact he’s a Republican was material in both his initial hiring and subsequent appointment, but he did bring a lifetime of prosecution experience to the job (unlike some of the wet-behind-the-ears 4th-tier law school grads Bush has appointed to U.S. Attorney jobs elsewhere in the country), and within the legal profession, he’s widely respected and not generally thought of as a partisan prosecutor.