Obama: Marijuana Dispensary Busts by Feds Aren't About to Stop
If you think President Obama is a liar for promising to hold back on federal prosecution of medical marijuana and then seeing his feds bust more pot shops than they did under George W. Bush, maybe you're not listening to him carefully enough.
Obama says that, perhaps, you misinterpreted his words when he said he wouldn't "use Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws about medical marijuana."
Here's how he wiggles out of that one:
What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana ...
That's what he told Rolling Stone this week when the magazine asked him "what's up" with his administration's heavy prosecution of marijuana businesses in medical-legal states like California, where Oaksterdam University was raided by agents earlier this month.
The mag noted that there have been more federal dispensary busts under Obama than under Bush although, to be fair, the medical marijuana trade exploded right about the time Obama took office.
"Here's what's up," the president said.
Marijuana doctors in Venice.
Sounding a bit like L.A.'s own District Attorney, Steve Cooley, Obama argues that, medical or not, "commercial operations" that sell illicit drugs are not kosher, and he can't just ignore them.
Cooley, along with City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, has argued that for-profit marijuana retailers aren't really even allowed under state law, which they say was intended only to legalize the sharing of collectively grown pot on a nonprofit basis.
(The guy who co-wrote California's pot shop law, John Vasconcellos, told us this interpretation is incorrect and that the legislation was purposely vague so as to appease factions and allow for-profit marijuana trade).
Anyway, Obama follows the prosecutors' line of thinking, saying that, while everyday potheads probably don't need to worry about feds busting down their doors, big cannabis businesses are another story:
... You have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users. In that situation, we put the Justice Department in a very difficult place if we're telling them, "This is supposed to be against the law, but we want you to turn the other way." That's not something we're going to do.
Sounds like pot retailers would be safer selling their weed on the street.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.
- Kabbalah Centre and Its Former Rabbi to the Stars to Pay $177,500 in Sexual Battery Suit
- Bicycle Is Returned to Child, but Alleged Bully Bike Thief Is Still On the Loose
- Thanksgiving Travelers Will Enjoy Lowest Gas Prices Since Early 2009