By Kira Zalan |
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama stated, "The basic concept of using medical marijuana ... [is] entirely appropriate," and pledged, "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws on this issue."
As president, Obama promised, "Science and the scientific process must inform and guide [the] decisions of my administration."
Yet recent actions of the administration belie these assurances. These actions include:
Most recently, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, along with the four U.S. attorneys from California, announced plans for a coordinated effort against operations in California that provide above-ground access to cannabis for those patients qualified to use the substance in accordance with state law.
If the federal government is truly concerned about the diversion of medical marijuana or its potential abuse in California then it would be better served to encourage--rather than to discourage--local and statewide efforts to regulate this industry accordingly. The Obama administration's proposed actions in California will only result in limiting patients' regulated, safe access to medicine. It will also cost California jobs and needed tax revenue.
Legislating medical marijuana operations and prosecuting those who act in a manner that is inconsistent with California law and voters' sentiment should be a responsibility left to the state, not the federal government. It is time for this administration to fulfill the assurances it gave to the medical cannabis community and to respect the decisions of voters and lawmakers in states that recognize its therapeutic efficacy.
About Paul Armentano Deputy Director of NORML