Obama Presidency

DEA Defies Obama Pledge, Fights Medical Marijuana & FDA Study

| by Marijuana Policy Project

WASHINGTON — The Marijuana Policy Project accuses the Drug Enforcement Administration of defying President Barack Obama's stated position by raiding a California medical marijuana dispensary and calls on the president to immediately replace Bush administration holdovers at the DEA.

The DEA raided a medical marijuana dispensary in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Jan. 22 – only two days after President Obama's inauguration. During the presidential campaign, 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," Obama said. MPP also urges President Obama to instruct the Bush-appointed current administrator of the DEA to delay a final ruling on a Motion to Reconsider its Jan. 12 decision to deny an application by a University of Massachusetts-Amherst researcher to grow FDA-approved, research-grade marijuana in a secure facility, arguing that Obama's own administrator should get to make that decision once in place.

The DEA's Jan. 12 denial was one among a series of unrelated 11th-hour regulatory actions the Bush administration attempted to finalize before leaving office. The DEA could rule on the motion as early as Monday unless the White House stops Bush holdover, Michele Leonhart, the DEA administrator. The DEA's Jan. 12 decision came nearly two years after the its own administrative law judge, Mary Ellen Bittner, ruled that approving the application would "be in the public's interest" and after years of delay on the part of the Bush administration.

"On the first day of the new administration, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel issued a memo to departments and agencies directing them to hold off on issuing final regulations until President Obama's appointees have a chance to review them," said Aaron Houston, MPP director of government relations. "We're just asking for the same thing here. We'd like a fair hearing from new leadership at the DEA"

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