Medical Pot Clubs Get a Reprieve From Raids Under Obama

By Rachel Cernansky | March 19, 2009 5:57 pm

pot.jpgU.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced yesterday that the federal government will not prosecute all sales of medical marijuana, marking another stark change in policy from the days of the Bush administration, which conducted frequent raids under a zero tolerance policy.

Medical marijuana distributors were targeted by federal officials under Bush even in states that had passed laws allowing use of the drug for medical purposes by cancer patients, those dealing with chronic pain or other serious ailments. Holder said the priority of the new administration is to go after egregious offenders operating in violation of both federal and state law, such as those being used as fronts for drug dealers [Los Angeles Times]. Under the new policy, medical marijuana dispensaries that abide by state laws will be left alone.

The announcement, Holder said, is consistent with the position President Obama took on the issue during his campaign, and is supported by many who feel it clarifies the line between federal and state law. Graham Boyd, of the American Civil Liberties Union drug law project, said Holder’s statement seems “to finally end the policy war over medical marijuana.” He said officials in California and the 12 other states that have authorized the use of medical marijuana had hesitated to adopt regulations to carry out their laws because of uncertainty created by the Bush administration [The New York Times].

Opponents of the move, who say that the use of marijuana leads to harder drugs, include Republicans like Sen. Chuck Grassley, who criticized the Obama administration Thursday for moving to loosen restrictions on medical marijuana…. “The first rule of medicine, first do no harm, is being violated by the attorney general by his decision,” said Grassley [AP]. But other commentators applauded the move. The Marijuana Policy Project’s Bruce Mirken said, “The Obama administration deserves credit for basing policy on facts and science, not the myths perpetuated by Sen. Grassley” [AP].

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Image: Flickr / r0bz

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • John Doe

    I find it ironic that Sen. Chuck Grassley had the nerve to say “The first rule of medicine, first do no harm, is being violated by the attorney general by his decision.” Does he not realize that around a thousand americans die every year from overdosing on aspirin? My as well ban that well we are at it.

  • MandaFace

    i agree, republicans just need to loosen up and roll a jay!

  • Patrick

    They don’t care if we die, they just don’t want us to be individualistic while we do it.

  • QBass

    Grassley is da man! He is caring and decent and knows better what God wants! Doesn’t Obama realize that these people are sick and don’t need to become junkies, too?!?!

    Seriously, though… civil liberties… they aren’t ‘given’ or ‘protected’ or even ‘real’ until we are threatened. This is simply a convenient description for something that can be taken away by the man with the bigger stick. Period. Think about it. Are you ‘allowed’ to (insert civil liberty here)?

  • bill

    Run From The Cure film by Rick Simpson publicises medical use of hemp oil in curing cancer and a number of other medical conditions. The film is compelling and convincing. Will UK and USA governments make hemp oil available to stage 4 cancer sufferers for whom all else has failed? If not then why not?

  • shaking head

    In responce to Qbass: I can’t belive that people still want to take other peoples medicine away. Tell you what. Next time you get a migraine or hurt yourself in any way, I’ll be there to tell you, you can’t have any advil. Or maybe I won’t let you go to the hospital. And as far as the junkie thing, marijuwana is the least addicting substance there is. It even falls below alcohal, which we all know is legal. You think god would put marijuwana here if it wasn’t good for something? I think he put it here to help people ease their pain. And all you conservatives need too wake up and realize that. (not saying I belive in god either, just making a point :)

  • John

    Hmmmm, I wonder if the pot smoking has anthing to do with the illiteracy demonstrated in responding to articles, blogs and the like. Hey, that’s just crazy talk, right dude? It’s funny how shaking head points out that it’s “the least addicting substance there is” which I suppose that makes all the difference. It’s too bad some ‘friends’ from school days didn’t realize that before they got hooked, turned into stoners, dropped out of high school and have accomplished/contributed little to their communities and socienty in general, although I guess we’re always going to need cashiers and waitstaff (way to go at age 35 +/-…mom must be so proud). Better yet, I get to help pay their bills through taxes for welfare/social services and Osama Biden Ladens “stimulus” and bank bailouts (which gave those slobs mortages that they could never afford).

    As far as John Doe’s comment about aspirin…two words… Darwin Awards.

    Poor Patrick thinks he needs ‘less addictive’ mind altering, illegal substances to be individualistic…because he’s the only one who gets the munchies after burning???

    All that being said, my sympathies and heart goes out to those suffering from cancer. It has affected several people around me through the years and I wouldn’t wish it upon most (few dictators/mass murderers around the world would be an obvious exception). If this were all it would take to affordably treat the symptoms of pain they experience, then so be it. However, it unfortunately doesn’t always stop with them as the end user. Whether they grow a little extra for a friend, or to sell to pay some bills, or continue using once in remission. That’s what I have a problem with.

    On the positive side of this, allowing states to make the decision to allow its use, should open it to regualtion, quality assurance and inspection. Should users run into a ‘bad batch,’ there will(should) be some legal recourse.

  • Cliff

    John, I have a problem with your statement. What is so wrong with smoking pot? You give an example of “stoners” who drop out of high school and leech off the system, but that doesn’t represent everyone who smokes pot.

    Also, what is wrong with someone continuing after remission? It shouldn’t be wrong for a person to smoke pot as long as that person can function in society.

  • smithicus

    Dear John,

    There is no such thing as a “bad batch” of marijuana.

  • Larry Van Pelt

    I am a chronic pain sufferer. It is nerve pain which has very little remedy. Decades ago I was able to quit smoking tobacco because of what was happening to my respiratory system. In these discussions generally, there is never any mention of being able to use THC (the active ingredient) without having to smoke Mary Jane. Why is that?

  • shaking head

    Wow John…. You have some f***ed up reasoning…

    [Moderator note: edited for profanity]

  • shaking head

    little bit stereotypical perhaps?

  • shaking head

    Doctors, lawyers, judges, police, politics, firefighters.. I know at least one person from each of those careers who smoke pot, hold their jobs, and pay their mortgages like any other normal individual. You are grouping far too many people under “drop-outs” when really only a small percentage of people follow that path

  • Larry Van Pelt

    I saw the news about conflicts with the new electronic cigarettes. People were taking them into bars and gatherings to the consternation of anti-smokers who presumably do not know they are not carcinogenic. They just deliver nicotine to the user, but they have been made to look like cigarettes and they even use stage smoke for effect. I wonder how they would be received if they looked like asthma inhalers. I also wonder if they could be a safe (non-carcinogenic) way for the THC in Marijuana to be taken by pain sufferers.

  • Satish Bindra

    It’s amazing how yet another plant used by a non-European culture for thousands of years (ala coffee or tobacco) has now been usurped by Westerners who are having a grandiose debate about it. Indian scriptures from thousands of years ago extol the virtues of ganja and there are many proven remedies from it which people have been using in South Asia for millenia. This goes out to the people on both sides of this issue: most of you know NOTHING about this plant. The debate regarding “marijuana” (another case of renaming in Western terms something that already had a name) is largely one which only elucidates why Westerners are so clueless on so many levels. Ganja is non-toxic and non-addicting. Anyone who thinks otherwise should consider the new student loan program Obama is creating because ignorant Americans are THE REASON the economy is a wreck.

  • Satish Bindra

    John: In reference to illiteracy, “socienty” is not a word in the English language I’m familiar with. Perhaps you should work on your own spelling before trying to play the illiteracy card. Your views on this plant, its pharmacology, and your sweeping assessments of society only reveal that you are an example of someone who does not “burn” but is still “stoned” in all the wrong ways.
    Take a trip to the Netherlands and you will find a society which has a higher standard of living than America and not only is literacy slightly higher, but people there speak multiple languages. By the way John, millions there legally smoke ganja including the literati, intelligentsia, and other people of the ilk perhaps you believe yourself to be.

  • Satish Bindra

    Larry: GW Pharmaceuticals has made an inhaler.

    Check out

    Best wishes on finding natural medicine to help you.



  • Ganja Man

    Very nice. Thanks for this.

  • Gordon Endsley

    I started cigarette smoking while I was 14 years old. It was the worst mistake I’ve made. Right now 30 years down the road and I have coronary artery disease. Whilst attempting to giving up smoking, I came across the electric cigarettes and i intend to give it a try. With some luck, it is going to assist me with this annoying habit.


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