Richard Lee has been one of the state's most visible activists for liberalized marijuana laws, having spent $1.5 million of his own money supporting an ill-fated ballot initiative in 2010 to decriminalize recreational use. But Lee is also an entrepreneur in the legally cloudy arena of medical marijuana, and on Monday the Internal Revenue Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration raided his home and his hemp-related ventures, including Oaksterdam University, a trade school focused on the marijuana industry.
The feds haven't disclosed what they were looking for, other than to say the raids grew out of a federal criminal investigation. Nevertheless, Lee's supporters complain that the Obama administration isn't honoring its own policy from 2009, when a top Justice Department official advised U.S. attorneys not to go after "individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana."
That policy doesn't seem to have much sway these days, considering the recent crackdowns by federal authorities on medical marijuana dispensaries in California and Colorado. But even if it were still in effect, the vagueness of state law and conflicting judicial interpretations make it well nigh impossible for anyone in California to be in clear and unambiguous compliance. That's because Proposition 215, the 1996 measure that decriminalized the medicinal use of marijuana, and SB 420, the 2003 law to clarify its provisions, left far too many loose ends.