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Debra J. Saunders
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Obama Should Act on Medical Marijuana


During the campaign, President Obama said he would stop federal raids of medical marijuana clubs in states (like California) that had passed medical marijuana laws. Yet federal agents raided medical marijuana dispensaries, including the Patient to Patient Collective in South Lake Tahoe, two days after his inauguration. The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported that agents seized between 5 and 10 pounds of marijuana.

The Marijuana Policy Project, which wants to legalize marijuana, accused the Drug Enforcement Administration of "defying" Obama's position on medical marijuana and "called on the president to immediately replace Bush administration holdovers at DEA.

"During the presidential campaign," the press release continued, "Obama repeatedly promised not to waste federal resources interfering in states with laws protecting medical-marijuana patients from arrest, and he told Southern Oregon's Mail Tribune editorial board on March 28, 2008, 'I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.'"

So will Obama keep his word by directing federal drug agents to concentrate on going after drug kingpins instead of sick people?

I understand that Obama has bigger issues on his plate, which probably is why the White House has yet to respond to my Tuesday query. That said, this issue is vital to many Californians with health problems.

Item No. 2 for the Marijuana Policy Project: In the closing week of Bushdom, the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected Administrative Law Judge Ellen Bittner's decision to allow the University of Massachusetts to grow marijuana for medical research. Until now, only the University of Mississippi has filled that role — and not well, according to critics.

Again, the Bush-DEA's action undermined the position of the incoming administration. Obama also told the Mail Tribune, "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 is right.

Some doctors believe that marijuana has properties — it can ease pain, is an anti-inflammatory and stimulates appetite — beneficial to patients with AIDS, glaucoma and muscular dystrophy and other chronic diseases, as well as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Aaron Houston, the Marijuana Policy Project's director of government relations, said U. Mass. agronomy professor Lyle E. Craker has until Friday to file a motion to reconsider the DEA's last-minute gambit, which Craker plans to do. "We want (White House Chief of Staff) Rahm Emanuel and the White House to do the same thing that the White House did for the other actions" — that is, direct federal agencies to hold off on rule-making on medical marijuana until the Obama folks take a look at it.

Judge Bittner was highly skeptical of some of the claims made by marijuana advocates who complained about the quality of medical marijuana supplied by the University of Mississippi. But Bittner also found that the National Institute of Drug Abuse has failed to make marijuana "available to all researchers who have a legitimate need for it in their research."

You could understand the institute's opposition to these projects if marijuana were a rare and lethal drug. But it is impossible to take a lethal dose, and marijuana is so prevalent that a 2005 National Drug Threat Assessment reported that, in some areas, marijuana seems "easier for youths to obtain than alcohol or cigarettes."

To the extent that federal officials have been slow to approve medical marijuana research, you have to believe that their biggest fear was that the research would be successful. That's right, it might help people in pain.

Obama has made much of his commitment to "restore science to its rightful place." Here's his chance.

E-mail Debra J. Saunders at To find out more about Debra J. Saunders, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



1 Comments | Post Comment
Ma'am;...It may have escaped your attention, but Mr. Obama is a Negro, and for a Negro to get anywhere in life they must be white...For an example, I offer Colin Powell, or Clarance Thomas...Except for the color of their skin they are white, and think like white people...You know that for Mr. Obama to do anything favorable to the use of Marijuana would be just to steriortypical of a Negro, so I would not ever expect it, no matter how much the country needs it, or demands it...The country will just have to wait for a white man to act cool, because until further notice the Black man is acting white... Enjoy your dope if you can find it...Don't expect no help from your government...He has chosen sides...He cannot help himself now... And that is fine, and perhaps even necessary...Black people will vote for him, and they will look in vain for some sign that he is one of them...They are like the farmers to the republicans...No matter how fully the republicans use and abuse the farmers, the farmers are like a mouse to cheese, even when it is bait in a republican trap...They cannot vote democratic, and when they cannot vote republican, they stay home... Same with the Negroes, even while Mr. Obama accepts the forms of white people that have always led to the ruin of Blacks, still, they cannot resist him...If the farmers could ask: What have the republicans done for me, then perhaps the blacks could ask what have the democrats done for me...The fact is that people too often vote for the party they do not hate as bad as the party they do...It is not a happy situation, and is one that may well go critical...For his part, Mr. Obama will not give the whites any reason to hate him that they do not already have...He is not stupid enough to act stupid...If something goes wrong with his presidency, it will not be self induced as with Mr. Bush...Yet; if he will not dare much, he will not gain much...Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed May 6, 2009 8:11 PM
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