More Federal Shenanigans Mean Californians Lose Again

U.S. President Barack Obama accepted $200,000 in donations from the family of Mexican casino owner Juan Jose "Pepe" Rojas Cardona, who has ties to the Beltrán-Leyva drug cartel.U.S. President Barack Obama accepted $200,000 in donations from the family of Mexican casino owner Juan Jose “Pepe” Rojas Cardona, who has ties to the Beltrán-Leyva drug cartel.CANNABIS CULTURE – Last October, when the Obama Administration moved so fiercely against medical marijuana collectives in California, everyone wanted to know why.

It’s mostly been attributed to the usual election-cycle politics, where candidates try to appear strongly against drugs, mainly to pick up lucrative endorsements from police groups.

But the curious news hit Monday in a New York Times article that the Obama campaign had accepted $200,000 from two brothers of a Mexican casino owner connected with a drug cartel and an assassination.

Juan Jose Rojas “Pepe” Cardona, who fled the US after he was charged with fraud and marijuana smuggling, owns a large casino in Mexico with close ties to the Beltran-Leyva drug cartel, according to a 2009 diplomatic cable released on Wikileaks.

Cardona’s brothers, Carlos Cardona and Alberto Rojas, both of Chicago, began donating money to the Obama campaign last fall, which is when Obama’s henchmen came out swinging against medical marijuana in California. One wonders, were Obama-friendly Mexican suppliers threatened by competition from California home-grown suppliers? The Obama campaign has said it had no knowledge of the connection to Pepe Cardona, and it will return the money.

Meanwhile, Chris Roberts of San Francisco Weekly’s The Snitch column reports that Paul Chabot, a former Navy man, campus cop, and National Drug Control Policy staffer who fronts the Coalition for a Drug Free California, has encouraged his fellow citizens to become “IRS Pot Store Whistle-blowers,” in an e-mail sent out on Monday.

The IRS is suing collectives in California for millions in back taxes under the absurd 280E provision of the tax code, which disallows deductions such as rent and payroll for so-called illicit drug operations (as though true cartels pay any tax). Chabot’s email pointed out that whistleblowers are entitled to 30% of the booty, and he enjoined his readers to take early retirement by narcing out their neighbors. (Experts point out that records such as ledgers and receipt books would be required to earn such a windfall.)

Chabot’s group is part of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), a federally funded organization with disturbing ties to military intelligence that’s had some interesting corporate partners, including Purdue Pharma, distributors of OxyContin.

CADCA was part of the law enforcement/government group that attempted to bury California’s medical marijuana law weeks after it passed in 1996, starting with a meeting uncovered by journalist Pat McCartney. Present at that meeting were then-drug “czar” General Barry McCaffrey and DEA chief Thomas Constantine, along with some 40 federal and state officials, plus CADCA founder Alvah Chapman.

One $50,000 private donor to CADCA is corporate partner Phamatech Inc., a San Diego-based company that manufactures the first FDA-approved home-screening drug test on the market, as well as providing laboratory testing for students and workers in California and beyond.

The At HomeTM drug test is “CLIA Wavered,” meaning it can skirt federal laboratory standards. On September 11, 2001 George W. Bush announced that the At Home test would be distributed by the Partnership for a Drug Free America under its Adolescence Substance Abuse Program (ASAP).

According to their website, in 2010 Phamatech signed contracts to drug test for the San Diego County Child Protective Services Department, the County of Santa Clara Department of Corrections, and the County of Fresno Health and Human Services, Probation and Parole Departments, as well as winning a multi-year contract with the California Department of Consumer Affairs to provide drug testing services to California State Health and Human Services, and Probation and Parole Departments. The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) logo is on Phamatech’s homepage, and listed on the DCA Restricted Items List at the Phamatech site is Medicinal Marijuana.

Once more this year a bill that would have granted employment rights to medical marijuana users failed to win enough support to pass in the California legislature. Business-friendly Democrats caved in to pressure from the Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated groups, who love to know what’s in their employees’ urine so that they can fire them, and deny them health benefits and workers’ compensation, whenever they see fit.

CalNORML just took down all of the now-closed San Diego medical marijuana collectives from its website, meaning patients who need access won’t be able to find it there. Other parts of the state are looking similarly bleak.

Obama is coming to San Francisco on September 16, and a protest is being planned. Perhaps the signs should say “Obama: Support California Farmers” or “Taxpayers and Workers, Not the Cardona Cartel”.

Ellen Komp is Deputy Director of California NORML and a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture. She manages the website and blogs at Tokin Woman.