February 27, 2009

An End Near To Medical Marijuana Raids?

US medical marijuana policy may be soon changing, according to a recent statement by Attorney General Eric Holder.

During a Wednesday news conference about raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in California since the start of President Barack Obama's administration, Holder said the administration's policy has changed.

Earlier this month U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided four Westside California medical marijuana dispensaries, angering supporters of pot for medicinal purposes who cited a comment made by Obama during his bid for the presidency last year.

On the campaign trail, Obama was quoted as saying: "If it's an issue of doctors prescribing medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma or as a cancer treatment, I think that should be appropriate because there really is no difference between that and a doctor prescribing morphine or anything else."

"I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue," Obama told the Mail Tribune newspaper in Oregon in March 2008.

During the conference, one reporter asked Holder if those raids following Obama's inauguration were a reflection of Obama's new policy.

"No," Holder said in response. "What the president said during the campaign, you'll be surprised to know, will be consistent with what we'll be doing here in law enforcement. He was my boss during the campaign. He is formally and technically and by law my boss now. What he said during the campaign is now American policy."

"We certainly hope it means that there will be no further raids on medical marijuana providers in California and other states," said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access.

Earlier this month, the White House said it expected raids of dispensaries to end once Obama selects a new head of the DEA.

"The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind," said White House spokesman Nick Shapiro.

Additionally, Obama on the campaign referred to his mother who had cancer saying he saw no difference between doctor-prescribed morphine and marijuana as pain relievers.

Thirteen states currently allow the cultivation, sale and use of medical marijuana, however federal law does not recognize this due to a 2005 Supreme Court ruling that state that the federal government may still continue to enforce barring the cultivation, possession and use of cannabis for any purpose.

"Anytime you have something new -- and you're formulating as you go -- things change constantly and the platform will shift," said Dennis Turner, CEO of The Humboldt Cooperative. "You need to be flexible and adaptive. ... That's all you can do."


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