One would think that President Obama, an admitted onetime pot smoker who is about as liberal a leader one could get in the White House, would be somewhat of a hero for the medical marijuana movement.

His administration even told feds to stand down on pot enforcement in states (16 and counting) where medical cannabis is legal. Sort of.

So weed supporters are about as happy with Obama as Dodger fans are with owner Frank McCourt:

This week Bill Piper, director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance issued a statement lambasting the administration for continuing to send mixed messages about enforcement in medical states.

The medical marijuana economy in Venice.; Credit: Jake Slagle

The medical marijuana economy in Venice.; Credit: Jake Slagle

While the Department of Justice's 2009 “Ogden memorandum” essentially told federal agents to step off when it comes to pot providers in places like California, feds continued to raid them.

And last week a memo from Deputy U.S. Attorney General James M. Cole seeking to clarify the situation actually “raises more questions than it answers,” Piper argues.

Piper rants:

The Cole memorandum reiterates much of the guidance provided in the Ogden memo, including that all medical marijuana offenses are illegal under federal law but that the Justice Department will prioritize enforcement so as not to waste resources. It clearly states that large-scale, commercial medical marijuana providers are proper targets for federal enforcement, even if they are in compliance with the state law … The new memo, however, does not provide guidance on what the federal government considers to be the line between small and large-scale production.

So, yeah, more gray area. More confusion. More leeway for feds to bust your ass. “The Obama Administration missed a huge opportunity to ease the state/federal conflict over medical marijuana,” Piper says.

Be careful out there.


LA Weekly