Drug Law

White House Vows to End DEA Raids on Medical Marijuana

| by ASA

WASHINGTON --- White House Spokesman Nick Shapiro reacted to new Drug Enforcement Administration raids at medical cannabis collectives in California, saying he expects President Obama to end that policy when a new DEA Administrator is seated.

“The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind," Shapiro said.

The statement puts the Department of Justice and the DEA on notice of a change in federal policy, and indicates that continued raids may not be tolerated. "Americans for Safe Access acknowledges President Obama's continued pledge to end federal interference with state medical marijuana laws," said Caren Woodson, Director of Government Affairs. “We look forward to working with the President and his Administration to enact long-term policies that support safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research."

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s largest medical cannabis advocacy organization, sent policy recommendations aimed at harmonizing federal and state law and encouraging research to President Obama and Congress earlier this year.

Shapiro’s statement followed a groundswell of public opposition and critical media following a DEA raid in South Lake Tahoe on January 22 and four simultaneous raids in the Los Angeles area on Tuesday. ASA members and other medical cannabis advocates responded with thousands of phone calls to the White House and an Internet campaign on the President’s web site, Change.gov, asking the President to fulfill his repeated campaign pledges to not use federal resources to interfere with state medical marijuana laws.

Medical cannabis raids intensified under former President George W. Bush, with more than one hundred paramilitary style raids, new indictments, and letters threatening property owners who rent to medical cannabis facilities with prosecution and civil asset forfeiture.

"More than 72 million people live in a state that has enacted laws that authorize the limited use and distribution of cannabis for therapeutic use," Woodson said. "The White House's comments have provided patients and their loved ones a sense of relief, and we hope the President and our Attorney General will keep this pledge in mind when considering appointments to the DEA and Office of National Drug Control Policy."