Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’
by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive DirectorApril 23, 2012
The most widely read political website, Politico.com, covers the now clear controversy the Obama Administration has found itself in regarding it’s 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.
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in five states where marijuana is legal for medicinal use sent a scathing open letter to President Obama demanding that he uphold his campaign promise to end the federal government’s war on patients. Shortly thereafter, an alliance of non-profit drug law-reform groups sent a similar letter.
Sixteen states and Washington D.C. have nullified unconstitutional federal drug statutes and currently allow sick people to lawfully purchase medical marijuana for a range of conditions including cancer, severe pain, and more. The U.S. government, however, still considers cannabis use to be illegal for any purpose, sparking frequent clashes between state and federal authorities over the years.
On the campaign trail, Obama claimed repeatedly that, if elected, he would stop federal interference in jurisdictions where voters and legislators had chosen to legalize cannabis as medicine. In 2007, he said persecuting infirm people for using medicine that is legal at the state level “makes no sense” and is “not a good use of our resources.”
“What I’m not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” Obama promised. After winning the presidency, however, Obama has waged the war on medical marijuana with more ferocity than even former President George W. Bush.
Early this week, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) raided “Oaksterdam University,” a California-based educational institution training students to work in the state’s booming medicinal cannabis industry. Several pharmacies selling legal medical marijuana were also targeted.
It was not immediately clear why the institutions were attacked by the administration. Officials declined to comment, saying only that they had a warrant.
Outraged state lawmakers and activist organizations responded after the federal raids by calling for Obama to uphold his campaign pledge to end the war on medical marijuana in states that have legalized it. Citing a variety of arguments, critics of the heavy-handed policies publicly blasted the President and his administration.
The coalition of legislators — two Republicans and four Democrats from California, Washington, New Mexico, Maine, and Colorado — attacked what they called Obama’s “zealous and misguided war on medical marijuana.” Under America’s federal system, the lawmakers observed, states are allowed to chart their own course. Indeed, the Tenth Amendment makes that crystal clear.
The legislators also slammed the federal government’s peddling of false information related to marijuana’s broad range medicinal uses — the feds claim there are none. And the apparent federal effort to ensure that the market is controlled by criminals came under fire in the letter as well.
“States with medical marijuana laws have chosen to embrace an approach that is based on science, reason, and compassion,” the lawmakers wrote in the open letter to Obama. “The laws were drafted with considered thoughtfulness and care, and are thoroughly consistent with the American tradition of using the states as laboratories for public policy innovation and experimentation.”
While each of the states has different laws and regulations governing the use and distribution of medical cannabis, the policies are all motivated by a desire to protect seriously ill patients and provide safe sources of medicine, the letter stated. Plus, all of the state governments decided it was time to stop wasting scarce law enforcement resources on punishing severely ill people.
“Unfortunately, these laws face a mounting level of federal hostility and confusing mixed messages from the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice, and the various United States Attorneys,” the lawmakers complained. And it is getting worse.
Despite some initial relief from federal persecution when Obama took power, they wrote, more than a few federal prosecutors have recently been attempting to improperly influence states’ legislative processes. In several instances, state officials including Governors have even backed down under pressure from the administration.
Incredibly, the U.S. government has even threatened state officials with criminal prosecution. “It defies logic and precedent that the federal government would start prosecuting state employees now,” the lawmakers explained. “Nonetheless, the suggestion that state employees are at risk is having a destructive and chilling impact.”
But the people’s state representatives are getting fed up, according to the letter. “We, the undersigned state legislators, call on state and local officials to not be intimidated by these empty federal threats,” the lawmakers declared. “Our state medical marijuana programs should be implemented and move forward. Our work, and the will of our voters, should see the light of day.”
The letter called on the federal government to stop interfering with state decisions concerning medicinal cannabis regulation. It also asked Obama to stand by his campaign promises, respect state laws, and stop issuing threats.
“Let us seek clarity rather than chaos,” the lawmakers pleaded, asking Obama not to use state employees as “pawns” in his “misguided” war. “Don’t force patients underground, to fuel the illegal drug market.”
After the April 2 raids in California, a coalition of six prominent activist organizations — including a group of current and former law enforcement officers — also blasted the administration for terrorizing people involved in the lawful medical industry. The open letter to Obama was signed by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).
“Our coalition represents the views of tens of millions of Americans who believe the war on medical marijuana patients and providers you are fighting is misguided and counterproductive,” the letter stated. “As your administration prepares to release its annual National Drug Control Strategy, we want to speak with one voice and convey our deep sense of anger and disappointment in your lack of leadership on this issue.”
The groups pointed out that state laws legalizing the production and distribution of medical marijuana “shift control of marijuana sales from the criminal underground to state-licensed, taxed, and regulated producers and distributors.” But instead of celebrating or even just tolerating the state schemes — which starve cartels of profits while offering benefits to patients — Obama has allowed authorities to trample all over medical providers, they wrote.
“The National Drug Control Strategy you are about to release will no doubt call for a continuation of policies that have as a primary goal the ongoing and permanent control of the marijuana trade by drug cartels and organized crime,” the letter charged, noting that 50,000 people have died in Mexico over the last five years due to the drug war. “We cannot and do not endorse the continued embrace of this utterly failed policy.”
Instead, the organizations said, they stand with Latin American leaders, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and the vast majority of people who voted Obama into office in recognizing that the time has come for a new approach to marijuana policy. “[W]e hope that you will immediately reconsider your drug control strategy,” the letter concluded.
As Obama continues to demand a more vigorous global drug war, policy makers around the world are increasingly searching for alternatives. Portugal and the Czech Republic, for example, legalized all drugs. And the results have been encouraging: less drug abuse, less crime, and less government.
Meanwhile, Latin American leaders, despite fierce pressure from the Obama administration, are openly contemplating legalization of narcotics as well. The U.S. government, on the other hand, is now seeking to step up its unconstitutional federal war and even deepen the involvement of the American military.
Voters in two states, Colorado and Washington, will be asked this November if they want legalization of marijuana. Similar ballot measures are being pursued in a few other states. If approved, these initiatives would mark a dramatic first for America.
So what does President Obama have to say about these state challenges to federal antidrug policy?
Silence, so far.
Yet two of his closest officials have lately been quite eager to speak out against the mere talk of pot legalization in other countries.
Last month, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told Central American leaders that legalization “is not the way” to stop drug trafficking. And on a visit to Mexico on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden repeated the message, saying legalization in the region would create more problems than it solves, such as an increase in drug addiction.
MONITOR’S VIEW: Smokescreen of reclassifying pot
These warnings by Obama officials may be aimed at a drive by Guatemala’s president, Otto Pérez, to rally Latin American leaders around the idea of legalizing drugs as a way to undercut the profits of powerful drugs cartels. The conservative ex-general has already gained some support in the region after he first floated the idea in January.
The Obama administration seems to want to dampen the effort quickly. The issue could come up at next month’s Summit of the Americas in Colombia. If so, Mr. Obama may be forced to take a very public stand on legalization just as the 2012 campaign is heating up. During his first presidential campaign, he deflected questions about legalizing cannabis.
Once in office, Obama did eventually launch a crackdown on many dispensaries of “medical” marijuana in the 16 states that allow such use. The main reason? A lot of the pot, especially in California, was being diverted around the country for resale to recreational users. Meanwhile, the administration only quietly released an official stance against legalization.
During his visit to Central America, Mr. Biden seemed sympathetic to the region’s frustration with drug cartels and their violence. He said a debate over legalization is understandable “in societies that don’t have the institutional framework and the structure to deal with organized, illicit operations.”
Did the vice president mean to imply that the United States does have the “institutional framework” to deal with illicit drug sales? If so, why does marijuana use only rise?
MONITOR’S VIEW: Fed crackdown on California pot: Does Obama mean it?
The administration needs to step up and make a strong case against legalization in the US in order to counter a well-financed, well-organized pro-marijuana effort. One argument is that the cartels would actually welcome legalization, in the same way that US casino owners have welcomed state gambling lotteries. To drug dealers, the more addicts the better.
Biden did say a debate in Latin America about legalization would help “lay to rest some of the myths that are associated with the notion of legalization.”
How about he and Obama start to challenge those myths in states like Colorado and Washington?
Thursday Feb 16, 2012 Barack Obama will be visiting Corona Del Mar, CA for a campaign fundraiser breakfast. Join us in a rally to protest the Obama administration’s broken promise to respect state laws regarding Medical Marijuana and to refrain from using the Department of Justice to circumvent those laws. 6:00am until 9:00am. 219 Evening Canyon Road, Corona del Mar, CA
Please arrive by 6:00 AM
Bring your pro Medical Marijuana signs.
Free Coffee & Donuts.
National Media Press Conference at 8:00 AM featuring the following speakers.
Orange County GOP
Orange County Women’s GOP
Orange County Tea Party
Steele Smith, GOCCA Director
Chadd McKeen, GOCCA Board Member
Jeff Byrne, GOCCA Board Member
Please see http://www.facebook.com/events/381864801828653/ for more details.
by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach CoordinatorJanuary 24, 2012
NOTE: If you feel marijuana legalization was an entirely “appropriate” topic for debate, tweet your dissatisfaction of the White House’s censoring of NORML’s YouTube question by tweeting them using #WHchat and @WhiteHouse.
“Pres. Obama, what is inappropriate about saving billions and not arresting nonviolent american citizens for marijuana? #WHChat @WhiteHouse”
– E. Altieri, Comm. Coordinator
As of 7pm Pacific, I checked the YouTube.com/WhiteHouse page to see how many votes our question received in President Obama’s latest YouTube Forum. The good news? Our question, “With over 850,000 Americans arrested in 2010, for marijuana charges alone, and tens of billions of tax dollars being spent locking up non-violent marijuana users, isn’t it time we regulate and tax marijuana?” received 4,023 votes, making it one of the most popular submissions to the forum.
The bad news? See for yourself:
“The submission has been removed because people believe it is inappropriate.” Hmm, well, who are these people? The question got 241 “thumbs down” votes from viewers, was that it? I notice that of the615 questions submitted that asked about “With over 850,000 Americans arrested in 2010″ in the text, some still remain with 28 “thumbs down” and others are removed with as few as three, so it doesn’t seem like “people” refers to viewers or the public, does it?
Who are these people, President Obama? They’re not the people out here who keep making marijuana legalization the number one topic of these online forums. They’re not the millions whose lives are impacted by a marijuana arrest; the tokers and their families who lose jobs, houses, kids, freedom, assets, respect, security, and peace of mind because of marijuana prohibition.
Sadly, I think these people are actually just one person… a guy who smoked weed (and snorted coke) back in the day as a teenager in Hawaii and was damn lucky he didn’t get caught or today he’d be Barry the Drug Criminal.
(YouTube.com/WhiteHouse) On Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 9:00 p.m. ET, President Obama will speak to the nation in his annual State of the Union address.Starting today, you can ask President Obama the questions that are on your mind about the direction of the country and vote on others that you think should be asked. He’ll answer several of your top-voted questions during a special interview, which will take place on January 30, live from the White House. A selection of people who submit questions will also be invited to join a Google+ Hangout live with the President during the interview.
The deadline to submit is January 28 at midnight ET so submit your question now.
Here we go again. How many times will President Obama ask the American people for their questions on national policy, how many times will we resoundingly call for marijuana legalization, and how will he diminish, mock, or ignore our concerns this time?
- We petitioned him to legalize marijuana in September 2011, the number one petition;
- We Twittered him to legalize marijuanain July 2011, making up one out of eight questions asked;
- We asked him via YouTube videoin January 2011, with LEAP’s question the number one video;
- We asked him via Ideas for Changein March 2010, with legalization again the number one question;
- We lobbied him via Citizen’s Briefing Bookin May 2009, with the number one idea being legalization;
- We asked him via Open for Questions IIin March 2009, where he mocked the number one idea of legalization helping the economy;
- We asked him via Open for Questions Iin January 2009, where legalization topped most categories of questions;
- We asked him via Change.govin December 2008, where legalization was again number one and a dozen of the top fifty questions.
Maybe the ninth time is the charm? Once again in this “ask the people” exercise the most popular questions deal with legalization of marijuana*.
Here’s the official National NORML question:
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Here’s my entry:
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* Though this time, we may get beaten by SOPA, PIPA, and NDAA questions… which wouldn’t bother me a bit. A free and open internet, threatened by SOPA and PIPA, is crucial to spreading the message of marijuana law reform. NDAA is an abomination that allows the president to declare citizens “enemy combatants” and lock them up indefinitely without charge, without trial, and without rights. We’re big fans of the First and Fourth Amendments here and these acts are counter to the spirit and Constitution of America
Thursday, 03 November 2011
“No longer should the federal government’s laws supersede the wishes of local citizens who have decided that their fellow neighbors ought … to legitimately use medical marijuana”
Washington, DC: Members of Congress are urging President Obama to halt the Justice Department’s crackdown on California’s medical cannabis providers and are calling on the Administration to reschedule the plant in recognition of its therapeutic utility.
On Friday, nine members of Congress — Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Sam Farr (D-CA) Bob Filner (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) — sent a letter to the President “to express [their] concerns with the recent activity by the Department of Justice against legitimate medical cannabis dispensaries in California. …. [These] actions … directly interfere with California’s 15-year-old medical cannabis law by eliminating safe access to medication for the state’s thousands of medical cannabis patients.”
Earlier this month, United States Deputy Attorney General James Cole, along with the four US Attorneys from California, announced plans to escalate federal prosecutorial efforts targeting the state’s medical cannabis dispensaries and providers. Since their announcement, US Attorneys have sent eviction notices to the landlords and the financial institutions of several cannabis providers throughout the state.
The Representatives’ letter to Obama states: “During your presidential campaign you repeatedly pledged to end federal raids against the individuals and collectives authorized by state law to use or provide medical cannabis. … By pursuing the same harsh policies that have been in place for years, we fear that the federal government will push legitimate patients back into the uncertainty and danger of the illicit market. For these reasons, it is more important now than ever to reschedule marijuana as a legitimate controlled substance for medicinal purposes. … No longer should the federal government’s laws supersede the wishes of local citizens who have decided that their fellow neighbors ought to have the right to legitimately use medical marijuana.”
The letter concludes, “We respectfully request that your administration reschedule marijuana … administratively, or publicly support the adoption of legislation that would change the federal statute to achieve this goal.”
In July, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration formally denied a nine-year-old petitioncalling on the agency to initiate hearings to reassess the present classification of marijuana as aschedule I controlled substance without any ‘accepted medical use in treatment.’
For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at: (202) 483-5500. The full text of the US House members letter to President Obama is available online at:http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/letter.pdf.