Pot Groups See Obama 2012 Flip-Flop On MMJ

Apr 12, 2012

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama touted a pro­gres­sive atti­tude on med­ical mar­i­juana on the cam­paign trail, but since tak­ing office, Obama’s admin­is­tra­tion has hard­ened its stance and sup­port­ers of the drug are cry­ing foul on the flip-flop. In a March 2008 inter­view, Obama told the Ore­gon Mail Tri­bune that med­ical mar­i­juana ranked low on his list of pri­or­i­ties. “I think 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,” Obama said. “I’m not going to be using Jus­tice Depart­ment resources to try to cir­cum­vent state laws on this issue.” But the num­bers tell another story. Since Octo­ber 2009, Amer­i­cans for Safe Access, a group com­mit­ted to legal­iz­ing med­ical mar­i­juana, esti­mates the Jus­tice Depart­ment has car­ried out 170 raids on dis­pen­saries and cul­ti­va­tion facil­i­ties in nine states. “Every time a dis­pen­sary is shut down, there are lit­er­ally hun­dreds of peo­ple wak­ing up that day won­der­ing where they will get their med­ica­tion,” saysKris Her­mes, the spokesper­son for the Amer­i­cans for Safe Access. Her­mes says he’s con­fi­dent that the num­ber of raids since the pres­i­dent took office is actu­ally around 200. “He’s broad­ened his attack,” Her­mes says. “Until Obama was elected, George W. Bush had the most aggres­sive pos­ture toward med­ical marijuana…he’s been even more aggres­sive than his pre­de­ces­sor.” Amer­i­cans for Safe Access esti­mates that dur­ing the entire eight years of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, roughly 200 raids were car­ried out, some­thing Her­mes says the Obama admin­is­tra­tion has accom­plished in less than four years. Asked why the Obama admin­is­tra­tion had been so aggres­sive in pur­su­ing fed­eral drug law vio­la­tions involv­ing med­ical mar­i­juana, the DOJ told Whis­pers, “Sorry, we do not have sta­tis­tics to sup­port [that accu­sa­tion].” Pro-marijuana groups say Obama has expanded the attack on med­ical mar­i­juana from DOJ to a wide array of other fed­eral agen­cies, includ­ing the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice, which has lead dozens of audits of med­ical mar­i­juana busi­nesses. The IRS has also aggres­sively penal­ized med­ical mar­i­juana busi­nesses for sell­ing an ille­gal drug by requir­ing the busi­nesses to pay fed­eral taxes on gross income, not net income, elim­i­nat­ing the tax break most busi­nesses receive from deduct­ing pay­roll costs. The Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment released a memo in 2011that allows pub­lic hous­ing agen­cies to evict ten­ants who use med­ical mar­i­juana. The Bureau of Alco­hol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explo­sives also issued a memo in Sep­tem­ber ban­ning the com­mer­cial sale of firearms to med­ical mar­i­juana patients. There are 16 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia that have their own med­ical mar­i­juana laws. And experts say U.S. attor­neys’ threats against local and state offi­cials who enact med­ical mar­i­juana laws in their states have even slowed down the imple­men­ta­tion of new laws in Ari­zona, Mon­tana, Rhode Island, and Wash­ing­ton. “It’s a weaselly threat, but it has scared a few gov­er­nors,” says Bill Piper, the direc­tor of national affairs for the Drug Pol­icy Alliance, a group com­mit­ted to find­ing alter­na­tives to cur­rent drug laws. “The inten­sity and multi-agency assault is far worse than the Bush admin­is­tra­tion and the Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion.” Allen St. Pierre, exec­u­tive direc­tor for NORML, which seeks to reform mar­i­juana laws, says the pres­i­dent might have polit­i­cal as well as legal moti­va­tions for revers­ing his ini­tial posi­tion on med­ical mar­i­juana. St. Pierre argues that cur­rent laws pro­hibit the Obama admin­is­tra­tion from turn­ing a blind eye to state’s med­ical mar­i­juana legal­iza­tion. “In essence, the admin­is­tra­tion is sort of ham­strung,” St. Pierre says. St. Pierre says let­ting states reg­u­late mar­i­juana as they please would burn up a lot of the president’s polit­i­cal cap­i­tal, adding that Obama has to take action or he risks earn­ing a rep­u­ta­tion in 2012 elec­tion as soft on drugs. Source: Chicago Tri­bune (IL) Author: Lau­ren Fox, U.S. News & World Report Pub­lished: April 12, 2012 Copy­right: 2012 Chicago Tri­bune Com­pany Web­site: http://​www​.chicagotri​bune​.com/

 Pot Groups See Obama 2012 Flip Flop On MMJ

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Pot Groups See Obama 2012 Flip-Flop On MMJ

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