Drug Law

First Medical Marijuana Raid by DEA Under Obama Administration

| by ASA

OAKLAND, Calif. -- According to marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, the Drug Enforcement Administration raided a medical marijuana dispensary Thursday in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. It was only the second full day of Barack Obama's term in office.

"Even though President Barack Obama had made repeated promises during his election campaign to end federal raids in medical marijuana states, many high-ranking Bush Administration officials have yet to leave office," ASA said in a statement.

For example, still at the helm of the DEA is acting Administrator Michele Leonhart. Neither Eric Holder, President Obama's pick for U.S. Attorney General, nor a new DEA Administrator, have taken office yet.

"Whether or not this unconscionable raid on a medical marijuana provider is the fault of federal officials from the previous administration, President Obama has an opportunity to change this harmful and outdated policy," said Caren Woodson, Director of Government Affairs for ASA. "We are hopeful that these are the last remnants of the Bush regime and that President Obama will quickly develop a more compassionate policy toward our most vulnerable citizens."

ASA says medical marijuana and an unknown amount of cash was seized during the raid from Holistic Solutions, but no arrests were made. According to ASA, this first DEA raid under the new Obama Administration is another example of more than 100 raids on medical marijuana providers that have occurred in California over the past two years.

While the greatest federal enforcement has occurred in California, the advocacy group says the DEA has been active in other states as well. Federal agents raided the Washington State offices of a medical marijuana advocacy group that was supplying starter plants to hundreds of authorized patients.

In Oregon, a federal grand jury was used by the DEA to obtain the medical records of several patients, an effort that was later rejected by a federal court. The DEA also went as far as to threaten New Mexico officials for planning to implement that states medical marijuana distribution program.

"I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users," Senator Obama said in an August 2007 statement. "It's not a good use of our resources," he continued. This statement was followed up by Obama in other public events in the run up to the election.

"President Obama must rise to the occasion by quickly correcting this problem and by keeping the promise he made to the voters of this country," said Woodson.

ASA has been working with the new Administration on changing federal law around medical marijuana, which has included providing a comprehensive set of policy recommendations.