Obama Presidency

Obama's Shift on Medical Marijuana Policy 'Disastrous'

| by Baptist Press

WASHINGTON (BP) --- The Obama administration's "surrender to bad state
policies on so-called medicinal marijuana will have disastrous
effects," a Southern Baptist ethics leader said in response to a shift
in marijuana policy indicated by Attorney General Eric Holder.

"Medicinal
marijuana is the Trojan horse of the marijuana decriminalization
movement," said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy of the
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

The
federal government no longer will raid medical marijuana distributors
if they are in violation only of federal law and not of state law,
Holder told reporters March 18 during a question-and-answer session at
the Department of Justice, according to the Associated Press.

The
new policy under President Obama marks a switch from that of the
previous administration. During the Bush administration, federal agents
raided medical marijuana distributors in California, even though that
state's law allowed its distribution and use for such a purpose.

"The
policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state
law," Holder said. Federal law prohibits the sale of marijuana for
medical purposes, but California and 12 other states have legalized the
use of medical marijuana. The other dozen states are Alaska, Colorado,
Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode
Island, Vermont and Washington, according to the Drug Policy Alliance
Network.

"Given the limited resources that we have, our focus
will be on people, organizations that are growing, cultivating
substantial amounts of marijuana and doing so in a way that's
inconsistent with federal and state law," Holder said, AP reported.

Duke,
of the ERLC, said the Obama administration's decision "is not the kind
of change America needs." Medicinal marijuana, he said, is "a threat to
our nation's well-being and health, not a prescription for a better
life."

The failure to enforce federal, anti-drug laws will not
help the sick or society, Duke said. Marijuana has not been shown to be
especially helpful in relieving pain, he said. Its greater medicinal
use likely will lead to increased usage by young people, potential
legalization for recreational purposes and widespread drug-related
problems, Duke said.

Advocates for medical marijuana use had a
different response to the policy change. "It signals a new direction
and a more reasonable and sensible direction on medical marijuana
policy," said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access.

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