Lest anyone forget their undying hatred of and scorn for medical marijuana patients, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), currently still staffed by officials from the Bush Administration, has acted quickly and cynically to undermine and disregard statements made by President Barack Obama.
On January 22, the DEA raided a medical marijuana dispensary in California for the first time since President Obama took office. During Obama's campaign, he pledged to put an end to this cruel and capricious practice, saying, "I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It's not a good use of our resources." Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996. Since then, a dozen other states have passed similar laws.
"We are hopeful that these are the last remnants of the Bush regime, and that President Obama will quickly develop a more compassionate policy toward our most vulnerable citizens," said Caren Woodson of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a medical marijuana advocacy group.
National media outlets including the San Francisco Examiner have called on the President to end the raids. "Admittedly, he's been on the job just a few days, but now-President Obama's administration has just overseen its first medical marijuana raid. It's time for him to live up to his promise and call off the dogs," wrote J.D. Tuccille of the Examiner.
The DEA conducted this raid knowing full well that President Obama has repeatedly pledged to end federal threats, arrests, and prosecutions of patients and their providers in medical cannabis states. "For DEA to act with such brazen arrogance and in direct conflict with the new President’s pledge to end federal raids is deeply concerning," ASA said in a statement. "With only weeks left in office, it is clear that top DEA officials are using this transitional period to exploit the differences in policy between the old and new administration."
To their eternal shame, state and local cops, in direct contravention of California law, aided federal agents in the raid. How must Californians feel about voting to allow sick people to use marijuana free from police harassment, only to have their state, county, and city law enforcement helping to serve a federal warrant? Don’t you just love the idea that your California tax dollars paid for this raid?
This shameful raid is only the most recent in a string of nearly 100 raids on medical marijuana dispensaries operating legally under California state law. The medical marijuana community and others must move swiftly to bring an end to these senseless, harmful and outdated medical marijuana raids, as Obama vowed in the campaign.
Obama could get off to an excellent start by appointing new leadership in the DEA and making it unmistakably clear to the Department of Justice that under the Obama administration, this practice is no longer acceptable.
Last year, the American College of Physicians endorsed the use of medical marijuana, which, along with pointing out strong scientific support for marijuana's medical efficacy, noted that "a clear discord exists between the scientific community and federal legal and regulatory agencies over the medicinal value of marijuana."
It is time to bring our government back in line with the scientific community by ending these medical marijuana raids. No one should suffer criminal penalties simply for using the medicine that works best for them. The harmful and outdated policy of pursuing, persecuting and prosecuting medical marijuana patients must end.
The sick and dying have enough to worry about with their medical issues, without having the additional worry of gung-ho federal agents kicking in their doors, stealing their medicine, and seizing their homes, children, and bank accounts.
What You Can Do
• Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has an online action form to contact President Obama and ask him to quickly appoint new leadership to the DEA, so they get the message loud and clear.
• The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has published suggested verbiage online for a call to the White House at (202) 456-1111. http://stash.norml.org/president-obama-stop-funding-dea-raids-on-medical-marijuana/
• Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) also has an excellent online form through which you can send a message to the President: http://www.ssdp.org/stoptheraids
• Americans for Safe Access is asking everyone to call President Obama and urge that he issue an immediate suspension to all federal funds used to investigate, intimidate, arrest, and prosecute individuals who use or provide medical cannabis in accordance with their state laws.
Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 and say:
"Hi, my name is _____________. On Jan. 22, the Drug Enforcement Agency has raided a medical cannabis dispensary in Tahoe, California. The dispensary was raided by DEA despite numerous statements by President Obama saying he would end federal interference with state medical cannabis laws. I'm very concerned about outgoing DEA officials undermining these state laws and aggressively threatening innocent Americans. I'm also concerned about DEA taking action that is an affront to President Obama's position. I am pleading with President Obama to issue an immediate suspension of all federal efforts to investigate, intimidate, arrest, or prosecute individuals who use or provide medical cannabis in accordance with their state laws. Medical marijuana patients are ready for change, too! Please help us."
"This is the single most important action you have been asked to take this year," ASA says on its site. "We need President Obama's support. Once you’ve made this phone call, please forward this message to friends and family. Then visit WhiteHouse.gov to copy and paste the above message."