Threats of federal crackdown in New England

May 12th, 2011 by admin Leave a reply »


PROVIDENCE — Peter F. Neronha, the U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island, is not alone among the top federal prosecutors in New England when it comes to threatening raids on large-scale marijuana dispensaries that have opened or plan to open and sell medical marijuana.

There is plenty of talk of similar federal crackdowns in Maine, Vermont and Connecticut. Two of the states, Maine and Vermont, have medical-marijuana programs, and Maine is the first state on the East Coast to open a marijuana dispensary. The legislature in Connecticut is pressing forward with plans to establish a medical-marijuana program.

In recent days, U.S. Attorney Tristram J. Coffin, in Vermont, sent a letter to lawmakers that is similar to one that Neronha delivered to Governor Chafee stating that the proposed dispensaries are drug-trafficking operations that would be violating federal drug laws.

The Justice Department considers marijuana a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, or drug, with no proven medicinal value.

“Individuals who elect to operate marijuana-cultivation facilities will be doing so in violation of federal law,” Coffin wrote. “Others who knowingly facilitate such industrial-cultivation activities, including property owners, landlords, and financiers, should also know that their conduct violates federal law.”

The threatening letter did not sway state legislators. Last week, the Vermont House voted 99 to 44 to approve a bill that would establish four medical-marijuana dispensaries in the state. Gov. Peter Shumlin, who sponsored a similar bill in the Senate last year, is expected to sign the legislation into law.

In Maine, the state’s first dispensary,

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