Will Obama end medical marijuana raids as promised?

February 5, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Medical use of marijuana is legal under the law in California and a dozen other states. However the federal government under President Bush, bolstered by a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, argued that federal interests trumped state law and maintained a policy of harassing medical marijuana shops.

During the election campaign, President Obama repeatedly said he was opposed to using the federal government to raid medical marijuana shops, particularly because it was an infringement on states’ decisions.

Obama told the Mail Tribune newspaper in Oregon in March: “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue. The basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that’s entirely appropriate.”

For now, though the DEA is still run by acting Administrator Michele Leonhart, a Bush appointee, until a replacement is appointed, so it’s business as usual for now.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents this week raided four medical marijuana shops in California, contrary to President Obama’s campaign promises to stop the raids.

Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group in California, called the raids an attempt to undermine state law and said they were apparently conducted without the knowledge of Los Angeles city or police officials.  He told the Washington Times:

“President Obama needs to keep a promise he made, not just in one campaign stop, but in multiple speeches that he would not be spending Justice Department funds on these kinds of raids,” Mr. Hermes said. “We do want to give him a little bit of leeway, but at the same time we’re expecting him to stop this egregious enforcement policy that is continuing into his presidency.”

He said he is aware that Mr. Obama has not installed his own DEA chief but that new Attorney General “Eric Holder can still suspend these types of operations.”

The White House said it expects those kinds of raids to end once Mr. Obama nominates someone to take charge of DEA, which is still run by Bush administration holdovers.


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