Time: What Is President Obama’s Problem With Medical Marijuana?

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 3, 2012

    Michael Sherer at Time Magazine has posted online today a particularly astute examination of the Obama administration’s flip-flop on marijuana policy. Below are some key excerpts. Michael’s full article appears in the newsstand edition of Time.

    What Is President Obama’s Problem With Medical Marijuana?
    via Time.com

    [T]he Obama Administration is cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries and growers just as harshly as the Administration of George W. Bush did. In 2011, the Department of Justice revised its guidance to U.S. Attorneys, allowing them to target any medical marijuana activity except for ill patients and their immediate caregivers. The Drug Enforcement Administration has made it clear that “medical marijuana is not medicine,” and even called it a “mortal danger.” … In many states, U.S. Attorneys have advised state and local officials to back away from plans to create rules and regulations that would codify the medical pot industry, in some cases raising the possibility that lawmakers could be prosecuted for promoting drug use that is legal under state law.

    Over the last few weeks, I have talked with nearly a dozen people in the medical marijuana business, three U.S. Attorneys, White House officials and local officials who oppose the federal crackdown for a story that will appear in this week’s newsstand issue of TIME. The answer on the ground is, predictably, far more complicated than either medical marijuana advocates or the Obama Administration is willing to describe. And it all comes down to this: Despite Obama’s promises during the 2008 campaign, federal prosecutors have lost faith in the ability of state and local officials to control a booming commercial industry for a drug that is still illegal to grow, possess or sell under federal law. As a result, a once broad exemption from prosecution for medical marijuana providers in state where it’s legal has been narrowed to a tiny one. … [T]he nation is left with an uneasy status quo: The federal government is not trying to eliminate medical marijuana altogether, but it has decided that it cannot stand for the commercialization or large scale production of marijuana for the stated purpose of helping the sick, even when that production is technically within the bounds of state law.

    [I]n a different world, the federal government might work with state and local officials to more tightly regulate the growing of marijuana for medical purposes. But since pot is illegal under all circumstances under federal law, the opposite has been happening. Attempts, particularly in California, to more tightly regulate and thereby provide greater legal protection for the drug, have been shut down by the federal government.

    And so, medical marijuana is left in a no man’s land. Individual sick users are safe from prosecution, but they are likely to find it harder in the coming months to get the drug. Growers and dispensers are not protected by state law from federal prosecution, especially if they become large enough to get noticed by federal investigators. And the likely result is that more of the medical marijuana industry will be pushed underground in the coming years, making it more difficult for local officials to track the business. This arguably will only increase some criminal activity, as large amounts of money and a very profitable commodity move through the system by way of small-time dealers working without sophisticated security systems.

    …“What this really screams for a cohesive national policy.”

    But there is no such policy on the horizon. Obama has shown little interest in elevating the issue. Some in federal law enforcement–and at the Office of National Drug Control Policy–hope that the advent of new pharmaceutical replacements for grown medical marijuana, like the Canadian drug Sativex, [Editor’s note: Sativex is a British drug, not a Canadian manufactured product — though it is legal by prescription in Canada.] will make the entire issue moot in the coming decade. But that looks unlikely in the short term, given the lack of concern among the general public with medical marijuana. A 2010 poll by the Pew Center for the People and the Press found that 73% say they favor “their state allowing the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes if it is prescribed by a doctor.”

    In other words, don’t hold your breath for clarity anytime soon. The haze is here to stay.

    56 responses to “Time: What Is President Obama’s Problem With Medical Marijuana?”

    1. Buster Jones says:

      This really pisses me off. It’s the same thing by all past presidents. And this president is still a first class Ass-Hole on this one issue. Peace, Buster Jones Albany,GA.

    2. atlanta toker says:

      It is not the buzz thats the issue, it never has been the buzz, and it never will be the buzz. Thats just what they use as the problem. The real problem they have with this is the plant itself.
      Its the plant. It can put the people on a different plain in this country if they grow enough of it. It would kill the cotton industry. It would kill the pulp wood industry. It would kill the man made fiber industry. This is why they don’t want this available to the masses. It helps us as a nation instead of only the elite. Its that simple. Its the plant, not the buzz.

    3. Riddle me this Potman
      Once sativex is established and accepted
      How can any laws against the green
      plant be reasonable

      And this Obame guy sure turned out to
      be a crumb.

    4. skunkyfingers says:

      Guess NORML (idiots) would prefer Mitt Romney. http://www.theweedblog.com/mitt-romneys-marijuana-policy-report-card/

    5. Ken Sherman says:

      Sativex is nothing but a tincture of the whole Cannabis plant. Ground up flowers dissolved in ethanol. The same thing Bayer and others sold one hundred years ago. If I make the tincture from a natural plant I go to jail.

    6. wbs 101 says:

      Hopefully Time Magazine getting this story out there will raise awareness and gain support for this issue.

    7. Galileo Galilei says:

      Simply put, the Federal Governments views on marijuana are based on an hysteria debunked time and time again by science.

    8. James Tasoulas says:

      It’s time.There is a medical benefit.Legalize it now!

    9. TheOracle says:

      The excuse about the medical marijuana providers getting out of hand is complete and utter bullshit. They have strict standards for the cannabis they buy. It showed it on television, specifically the shows about Harbor Side. They won’t buy it if there is mold on it or there was an insect infestation and on and on. The stuff that gets rejected winds up on the streets is what I’m getting as the feds main gripe. Well, maybe if the feds would have come up with guidelines for it’s legal retail sale to adults for both recreational and medical purposes to make it the least priority and non-prosecutable with an American tolerance policy like the Dutch gedoogbeleid we wouldn’t be in this mess!

      You know the feds don’t give a shit out the state and local government needing the revenues from it because they’re not hurting. They’re getting paid from outside and get transferred so they aren’t vested in the community, don’t give a shit about the locals. You know, the people.

      The feds should be glad U.S. citizens are running their own cannabis markets and trying to keep the peace, you know, instead of the Mexican cartels. The Mexican mafia has weapons sent south from the U.S. because of they are fighting the Mexican army, and they can get go back to Mexico permanently to escape the feds. U.S. citizens can’t go to Mexico permanently because then they would be growing in Mexico. Duh. Or,they’d get deported. The Mexican mafia can rotate its personnel in and out just like the feds can rotate their personnel in and out. It’s just turnover of outsiders fucking up the state and local regulation of cannabis that makes order out of the chaos.

      Mr. Obama, do not pass the buck to Congress, and wait for them to change the law.

      Ordo ab chaos.

      Obama must have a national gedoogbeleid for the U.S.