Politico Reports On Obama’s Medical Cannabis Conundrum

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director April 23, 2012

    The most widely read political website, Politico.com, covers the now clear controversy the Obama Administration has found itself in regarding its semi-articulated medical cannabis policy position post hundreds of law enforcement closures of medical cannabis dispensaries since the fall of 2011.

    Beyond bringing this political quandary regarding medical cannabis to a well informed readership, what is notable about the reportage is that buried in the piece is an apparent recent confrontation between cannabis law reform proponent Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and President Obama at a swank fundraiser directly across the street from NORML’s offices at the St. Regis Hotel where Frank confronted the President about the disparity between his rhetoric in favor of medical cannabis and the recent law enforcement actions of his Justice Department.

    Frustratingly, the President claims that he does not know what is going on in states like California, Washington, Montana and Colorado regarding DOJ’s efforts to seriously retard patient access to medical cannabis.

    Obama sees his history on medical marijuana enforcement differently. The president was again asked about the Justice Department medical marijuana policy at a high-dollar fundraiser at Washington’s St. Regis Hotel filled with liberal mega-donors who paid $35,800 a plate to attend. According to a source with knowledge of the event, which was closed to reporters, Obama reportedly said that the DOJ was raiding purely on a case-by-case basis.

    Frank says he got a frustrating response when he buttonholed Obama to complain that this wasn’t true: Obama told the Massachusetts Democrat that, to the best of his knowledge, the 2009 hands-off policy remained in place.

    Frank told POLITICO that he’s preparing to send the president press clippings to demonstrate that raids continue across the country.

    The tide has turned on the issue — beyond medical marijuana, there’s growing support for full legalization — Frank said, and there’s no reason the president should be lagging behind.

    “Obama now lags Pat Robertson in a sensible approach to marijuana,” said Frank, referring to the conservative evangelical leader’s recent criticism of the drug war.


    Obama’s pot promise a pipe dream?
    By: Byron Tau
    April 21, 2012

    President Barack Obama has turned out to be a real buzzkill.

    Back when he was running in 2008, Obama said he supported the “basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs” and that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws.” He didn’t go farther. But he also didn’t do anything to dissuade speculation among medical marijuana proponents who took this as a sign that the man headed to the Oval Office was on their side.

    Four years later, the raids on drug dispensaries have kept up — despite a Justice Department memo formalizing low-enforcement priority instructions from Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced in a March 2009 press conference that the raids would stop on distributors who were in compliance with state and local law. Obama never said anything about supporting legalization or decriminalization, but his medical marijuana statements were enough to get him heralded by some in the larger pro-pot community as the best hope for chipping away at the decades-long drug war.

    But the hopes that Obama would be a kinder, gentler, more tolerant drug warrior have gone up in smoke.

    “I’m very disappointed,” Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a longtime supporter of marijuana legalization and medical marijuana, told POLITICO. “They look more like the Bush administration than the Clinton administration.”

    The dejected medical marijuana supporters are hardly alone. For many in 2008, candidate Obama was like a political Rorschach test: They projected strong progressive positions about everything from legalizing gay marriage to ending all military involvement onto a candidate who never said he agreed with them — but also never explicitly said he didn’t.

    Now they’re looking at four years into the Obama administration and wondering where they went wrong.

    Read the rest at Politico

    47 responses to “Politico Reports On Obama’s Medical Cannabis Conundrum”

    1. Jason says:

      Thank God for Rep. Barney Frank for consistently calling “Bullshit” on all politicians that don’t live up to their word and for standing up to and speaking plainly and honestly on the real issues that matter most to regular people. Misleading talking points=propaganda! He will be sorely missed when he retires!

    2. Bradson says:

      Our nation is rapidly waking up to the absurdity of outlawing a non-toxic herb and those who use it. There’s something about being a politician that repels an “ah ha!” moment of clarity on this issue. Barney Frank is one of the few who recognizes this reality.

    3. I would not be all that surprised if much of the DOJ’s work against the medical cannabis industry is in fact going under the Presidents radar. I am not sure he realizes just how seriously some of his voters are about this topic. I think that as a community, we also have to consider that politically, it would be a poor move for the president to begin approaching this subject right now. It seems that our media also forgets that the astronomical, and exponential growth of legitimized canna-industry in the US is greatly thanks to Obama’s policy. Are dispensaries still getting shut down? A few sure, but I assure you MANY more opened up then were shut down in the last 12 months. Personally, I think we should focus on getting him into his second term. At that time, I think the stars may just be ready to align…

    4. Mrs. Ratsrectum says:

      Long live Barney Frank! Now, he’s a lobbyist to hire on for full legalization. I’m thinking the timeline is full legalization by the time of the U.S. troop pullout from Afghanistan, with cannabis being traded in U.S. dollars and as a commodity priced on a U.S. commodities stock market. Afghan is some of the very best in the world, and there’s no good reason the U.S. shouldn’t take the profits from trading in it to pay for the reconstitution and modernization of Afghanistan, and the Middle East in general.

    5. Bryan says:

      Uh B Obama isn’t trying to raid the dispensery
      system if it allows “a more general approach”:
      to cannabis as legally smoked . M word is with
      basic wording at Justice Department , illegal.
      Cannabis can be legal if not the Prohibit Dolr
      associated with “ma ri jua na” which is M Word
      the keyword of Drug Enforcement prohibition .,
      Wanting a free supply of money to get cannabem
      is noble I suppose as most of us will want the
      sense of Free Will to begin smoking pot freely
      tho{ugh} getting “m word money” for prohibited
      “last ditch effort to smoke pot legally” dolrs
      as why milara assoc. can say they get payments
      or disability to spend the state’s economy on:
      free ~pot attitude isn’t good money and it thn
      goes to a “compassion provider” who isn’t with
      ways , medical usage , helping the state’s eco
      nomy at all . . it’s taking state’s funding en
      ways it gives all higher cost payment to the :
      private and imposing foundation known to begin
      “siphoning state money to pay prohibited then”
      private providers who are asked by actual DOJ:
      to pay the taxes on consumption product . . .,
      and if private taxes aren’t fulfilling State’s
      coffers ., the depletion of economy asks the :
      affected economy provider [who’s taking money]
      to not deal state {free} money to compassion .
      The falsified DOJ ruling is known to shut down
      compassion centers who don’t comply with money
      tended to help renew finance .,. so B Obama *$
      said what he said . . , to ease up on prohibit
      regulation , and when someone wants free money
      to pay for expensive bud and can’t afford wage
      to work for the money to get the bud .,. it’s:
      Wage Less Economy Depleting Role of Prohibited
      Keyword to Show Finance Basis isn’t Procured :
      as the monetary failure to support State’s New
      Rights to Begin Cannabis Consumption . So what
      is the way to not allow “evasion” in sense the
      States Cannot Review Money Loss if Provided by
      Free “last ditch” Funding and not returned to:
      State Coffers in Case the Money is Unwarranted
      to begin the ruling known to be cannabis tax .
      My thought without supporting DHS will be :@:#
      did DOJ Supreme Court make the ruling to begin
      taking compassion centers who won’t give up on
      “free” prohibition funding or are they working
      on a new set of laws to minimize taxes for the
      cannabis consumers to make it legally smoked ,
      not regulation dollar evasion moderated . . .#
      Thanks , again , Obama’s doing his best to uhm
      free cannabis consumers from evasion and badly
      acquired laws on prohibited Money and Keywords
      so hooray to proper cannabis futures and Happy
      Earth Day to those respecting Manna Legal 🙂 .

    6. Anonymous says:

      I find it hard to believe that Obama lives in a bubble. How is it presidents lose touch with reality?

    7. fishcreekbob says:

      Guess whom I’m voting adainst.

    8. Ray E says:

      Barney Frank for President

    9. Ben says:

      No mention of how the Obama DOJ has been threatening state legislatures considering medical marijuana laws, something George W Bush would never have dared.

    10. Jbkorn02 says:

      He will be missed but hopefully he can do as much good as possible in calling Obama out on his lies in his last few months. Maybe we’ll even see him giving a speech or two next 4/20 helping even after he leaves his job.