ACLU Sends Warning to US Attorney Duffy: “Stop the Threats” of Del Mar City Workers

By Marcus Boyd/ Americans for Safe Access / August 6, 2012

San Diego, CA – In an ever increasing waste of federal funds to circumvent state medical marijuana laws, last month US Attorney Laura Duffy fired off this threatening letter to City of Del Mar employees. In response late last week the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU) posted an article on their blog titled; “U.S. Attorney Shouldn’t Be Threatening to Prosecute City Employees”  and fired  fired this letter back to the US Attorney.

On their blog, the ACLU writes:

“The San Diego U.S. Attorney is treading dangerous legal ground with a legal opinion that seems to be threatening Del Mar city employees with prosecution if they comply with an ordinance on medical marijuana up for a vote in November.”

Duffy’s intensified war against the civil liberties of sick and dying patients caught the attention of ACLU Legal Director, David Loy, after the director received an email blast and supporting materials from San Diego ASA detailing Duffy’s attempts to threaten lawmakers with federal prosecution for adopting ordinances that regulate dispensaries.

Just last week the Imperial Beach city staff used Duffy’s threatening letter in it’s staff report as a reason for the city council to to vote down it’s own competing ordinance which would have allowed for one (1) county regulated dispensary to operate in the city.

“While the federal government may enforce federal law, it has no business attempting to interfere with local legislative decisions,” said Legal Director Loy.

In further support of her threatening letter, Duffy sent DEA Acting Special Agent Patrick Kelly to politely threaten the Del Mar City Council at the city’s voter initiative public meeting.

“This is just the latest in a series of misleading and inappropriate federal threats to state and local government officials across California and elsewhere,” said Allen Hopper, director of the ACLU of California’s Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Project. “ Local and state officials seeking to responsibly regulate medical marijuana are not violating federal law and should never have to fear prosecution.”

The ACLU letter argues that compliance with the ordinance cannot legitimately expose city employees to liability under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). The courts have expressly rejected the notion that employees are subject to any aiding and abetting or conspiracy theory on which the threatened liability could be based. Because of this legal precedent, the mere act of issuing a permit in compliance with the ordinance would not make Del Mar city employees vulnerable to prosecution.

Representatives of the ACLU are seeking to meet with the U.S. Attorney to discuss the serious issues raised by this case.

Medical marijuana patients and laws have benefited greatly from the ACLU’s efforts locally to protect civil liberties from the prohibitionists. From the 2005 San Diego County lawsuit against the State’s Medical Marijuana ID Card Program, to the County’s 2010 attempt to ban dispensaries, to the current threats by the US Attorney, the local ACLU continues to work to protect the rights of patients and providers.

At the federal level, the ACLU is poised to reengage the US Government’s scientifically untenable position that cannabis has no medicinal value. In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, the ACLU calls on Holder to make clear that the DOJ will not prosecute people complying with state medical marijuana laws.

“In light of the recent series of threatening letters issued by U.S. Attorneys to various state officials in medical marijuana states around the country, we are concerned that DOJ is now asserting an interpretation of the Ogden Memorandum at odds with the government’s representations to the U.S. district court in the Santa Cruz litigation. If, contrary to the assurances its attorneys provided the court in the Santa Cruz case, the federal government’s enforcement policies now include “vigorously enforcing” federal drug laws against individuals and entities who manufacture and distribute marijuana on a completely non-profit basis and in full compliance with state medical marijuana laws, it marks a significant departure from the federal government’s position in the Santa Cruz litigation and could lead to that case being reinstated in its October 2009 posture with discovery proceeding as originally planned.”

San Diego Americans for Safe Access sincerely appreciates the efforts of the local ACLU and we applaud their diligence in protecting our rights.

Editor: For links to more background material, please go to the original here.

Marcus Boyd is the Vice Chairperson of the San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access. He can be reached at Phone: 619-303-1918 x13; Email:


  1. avatarJillian Galloway says

    It’s about time our government recognized that a lot of Americans like to get high on something other than alcohol. If our legislators really cared about keeping people safe then they would legalize every recreational drug that’s safer than booze.

    That would retain alcohol as the most harmful recreational drug legally available while at the same time give people the right to legally choose safer alternatives to alcohol.

    If the government really cared about keeping children safe then why is it bending over backwards to make them unsafe?