Pelosi calls on Obama to respect states’ rights, end medical marijuana raids

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wants President Barack Obama to lay off the weed.

Reacting to an ongoing crackdown on medical marijuana facilities in California, Pelosi said in a Wednesday statement, “I have strong concerns about the recent actions by the federal government that threaten the safe access of medicinal marijuana to alleviate the suffering of patients in California.”

The California Democrat said that medical marijuana is “both a medical and a states’ rights issue.”

California legalized the use of medical marijuana in a 1996 initiative vote. It’s comically easy for many residents to acquire the necessary medical diagnosis to legally purchase the drug.

In 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration would “effectively end the Bush administration’s frequent raids on distributors of medical marijuana.”

In April, however, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service raided Oaksterdam University — a school that taught marijuana enthusiasts how to successfully cultivate plants.

The Oaksterdam raid brought to public attention the increasing anger and frustration of marijuana activists, who point to a string of promises Obama made during the 2008 campaign, during which he often said he would relax enforcement of federal marijuana prohibition.

In February, advocacy group Americans for Safe Access said: “After little more than 3 years in office, Obama is not only on track to surpass two terms worth of Bush raids in just half the time, his Department of Justice has initiated a vicious attack on state sovereignty, designed to destroy the means of safe access patients have come to rely on.”

Also in February, Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Rob Kampia told Rolling Stone, “There’s no question that Obama is the worst president on medical marijuana.”

“Medicinal marijuana alleviates some of the most debilitating symptoms of AIDS, including pain, wasting, and nausea,” said Pelosi in her statement. “The opportunity to ease the suffering of people who are seriously ill or enduring difficult and painful therapies is an opportunity we must not ignore.”

“I have long supported efforts in Congress to advocate federal policies that recognize the scientific evidence and clinical research demonstrating the medical benefits of medicinal marijuana, that respects the wishes of the states in providing relief to ill individuals, and that prevents the federal government from acting to harm the safe access of medicinal marijuana provided under state law,” she added. (SEE ALSO: DEA apologizes for forgetting about shackled student for five days)

Pelosi’s call for the federal government to respect the policy decisions of individual states contrasts with a brief filed with the Supreme Court in opposition to Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law known as SB 1070. In the brief, Pelosi and other House Democrats argued that “Arizona impermissibly seeks to substitute its judgment and its priorities for those of Congress.”

“[E]ach of the disputed provisions of S.B. 1070 directly conflicts with the enactments and intent of Congress on vital issues of national interest,” the Democratic congressmen added. “As such, these provisions are preempted by federal law and therefore invalid.”

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