TIME Magazine: What Is President Obama’s Problem With Medical Marijuana? – Democratic Underground

Posted on: May 3rd, 2012 by admin No Comments

From TIME Magazine:

What Is President Obamas Problem With Medical Marijuana?

For a brief moment in 2009, medical marijuana advocates exhaled. A new President had taken office promising to call off the federal prosecutors in states that had legalized weed for the sick. What Im not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue, Barack Obama had said during his presidential campaign. In his first year in office, the Justice Department told prosecutors not to focus on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. Medical marijuana patients and the growing industry that supported them thought they were in the clear.

But they werent. Two years later, the Obama Administration is cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries and growers just as harshly as the Administration of George W. Bush did.

In 2011, the Department of Justice revised its guidance to U.S. Attorneys, allowing them to target any medical marijuana activity except for ill patients and their immediate caregivers. The Drug Enforcement Administration has made it clear that medical marijuana is not medicine, and even called it a mortal danger. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms has banned the sale of guns to medical marijuana patients. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has told public housing authorities that they cant rent to medical marijuana patients. And the Internal Revenue Service has reiterated its position that medical pot businesses cannot deduct expenses related to an illegal drug. Fearing federal intervention, many banks are now dropping medical marijuana dispensaries as customers.

In many states, U.S. Attorneys have advised state and local officials to back away from plans to create rules and regulations that would codify the medical pot industry, in some cases raising the possibility that lawmakers could be prosecuted for promoting drug use that is legal under state law. As a result, dispensary openings in states like Delaware, Arizona and Washington have been delayed. Colorado has abandoned a plan to provide legal financing for medical marijuana operations, and a northern California sheriff has been ordered to stop tagging plants as legitimately grown for medical use. In Oakland, the city council was forced to abandon a plan for creating warehouse-sized medical marijuana growing facilities. At the same time, U.S. Attorneys have been seeking the closure of dispensaries in California and Colorado without any demonstration that there are violations of state law. There are no public government statistics about the scale of these efforts, but an medical marijuana advocates say publicly announced Obama Administration raids on ostensibly medical marijuana operations are happening at a greater clip than in the second term of George W. Bush.

This has created a clear disconnect between the policy on the ground, and the public statements of officials in Washington. Back in December, Attorney General Eric Holder reiterated his claim that only medical marijuana operators that are behaving outside state law would be targeted by federal officials. (His statement was brilliantly hard to parse: If in fact people are not using the policy decision that we have made to use marijuana in a way thats not consistent with the state statute, we will not use our limited resources in that way, he testified before Congress.) More recently, Obama told Rolling Stone, The only tension thats come upand this gets hyped up a lotis a murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may also be supplying medical marijuana users.

This isnt the whole story…


More at the link- very interesting article. Apparently there’s a bigger piece in this week’s Time Magazine as well.

Read more: TIME Magazine: What Is President Obama’s Problem With Medical Marijuana? – Democratic Underground


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