Tension between the federal government and state or local governments is as old as the American republic itself. The tension is heightened when there is a local perception that federal agents are overreaching their authority.
California marijuana charges are a case in point. Two years ago, California seriously considered legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Though that measure was defeated, interest remains in legalization remains strong.
California law already allows marijuana to be used for medical purposes.
Federal law enforcement officials, however, continue to crack down on the California marijuana community. Last week, federal agents raided Oaksterdam University, a Bay Area school whose founder, Richard Lee, was a key supporter of the 2010 ballot measure seeking to legalize marijuana.
That measure received nearly half of the vote: 46 percent.
The agents blocked off the doors to the school in downtown Oakland and proceeded to remove numerous trash bags. A spokeswoman for the Internal Revenue Service declined to specify the contents of the bas. She said only that the agents were executing a search warrant.
A dozen or so protesters watched it happen. For them and for many others, the concern is that federal authorities will try to close medical marijuana dispensaries - forcing marijuana transactions increasingly underground.
Under current state law, the city of Oakland and other local governments regulate marijuana dispensaries with zoning ordinances and permits. But in recent months, federal prosecutors have been trying to shut many of these dispensaries down.
Meanwhile, supporters of legalizing marijuana for recreational use are trying to get a legalization initiative on the ballot for this fall's election.
Source: "Federal Officials Raid Medical Marijuana School in Oakland," New York Times, 4-2-12