Repeating a promise made during the presidential campaign, the Obama administration yesterday vowed to stop the federal government from interfering in states with medical marijuana laws as soon as they can appoint 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," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro told reporters.
Obama promised a hands-off policy on medical marijuana during his campaign, but since he took office the DEA, led by Bush appointed Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart, has nonetheless raided at least three medical marijuana dispensaries in California, each time seizing money and medicine, but making no arrests.
The administration’s renewed commitment to respecting states with medical marijuana laws follows thousands of phone calls to the White House, plus a flood of comments on change.gov, all calling for the President to make good on his campaign promise. Americans for Safe Access, the nation’s largest medical cannabis advocacy organization, greeted the statement with strong approval.
"Americans for Safe Access acknowledges President Obama's continued pledge to end federal interference with state medical marijuana laws," commented Caren Woodson, Director of Government Affairs. “We look forward to working with the President and his Administration to enact long-term policies that support safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research."
Meanwhile, Sarah Pullen, a DEA spokeswoman refused to offer any explanation for the raids. “I can’t get into details as to the probable cause behind the warrants,” she said. “Except for the fact that they’re dealing with marijuana, which is illegal under federal law.”
Perhaps the DEA dead enders were trying to throw down a challenge to the incoming President, lest he get any ideas about actually reforming our disastrous war on drugs. Or perhaps it was just an easy payday.
An employee of Beach Center Collective in Playa del Rey told the Los Angeles Times that DEA officers confiscated so much property that the dispensary would not be able to reopen.
“They took everything,” said the 32-year-old employee, who asked not to be named. “You name it, they took it – right down to the television. The computer, patient files, medicine, cash in the register – that’s it, we’re done. It’s just too bad. [Our patients] have epilepsy, cancer, MS, diabetes – two of our patients have one leg. They’re gonna have to travel a lot farther and go to places that aren’t as safe for them.”