Obama Administration Adopts Bush Anti-Medical Marijuana Stance

In yet another merging of Barack Obama with George W. Bush, the Obama Justice Department has declared that it believes that it can (and may) prosecute licensed growers and dispensaries in medical marijuana states for violating federal drug and money-laundering laws. The position came from U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole who rejected claims that a 2009 memo by then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden gave states some protection from prosecution.

The 2009 memo signaled a new policy when it asked prosecutors not to focus investigative resources on patients and caregivers complying with state medical marijuana laws.

Cole however said that, as more states legalize medical marijuana and allow for legal production, the Justice Department may crackdown on these facilities. Cole wrote that “[s]ome of these planned facilities have revenue projections of millions of dollars based on the planned cultivation of tens of thousands of cannabis plants.” So what? Either states are allowed to legalize medical marijuana or they are not. The Justice Department appears to have adopted yet another incoherent Obama policy: it is allowed, but not if it is too big. I believe states should have a right to legalize medical marijuana. Perhaps Obama does not. However, he should have the integrity to say it.

While the Obama Administration is not signalling a change in targeting individual users, the new policy statement signals a hostility to the use of medical marijuana and a belief that it remains a violation of federal law.

Once again, Ron Paul is bucking his party on the issue. Paul has introduced legislation to make marijuana legal and allow it to be taxed and regulated. He introduced the bill with Barney Frank.

Source: Chronicle

Jonathan Turley

45 thoughts on “Obama Administration Adopts Bush Anti-Medical Marijuana Stance

  1. This is a tough one for me. I am in favor of legalization, not just because the entire war on drugs has been a complete and utter disaster but because marijuana is not nearly as harmful as legal booze or the enforcement effort.

    But, that said, the Federal government has to be able to take a nation-wide view. Just because one state does something does not mean it doesn’t impact other states. There are cases where the Fed should step in to protect the national interest. I don’t think this is a good example of this principle but a bad choice of exercising it.

  2. As for medical marijuana … I’m not familiar with all the details of the initiative that was passed, but I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that’s entirely appropriate. …

    I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.

    Barack Obama March 23, 2008

  3. “While the Obama Administration is not signalling a change in targeting individual users, the new policy statement signals a hostility to the use of medical marijuana and a belief that it remains a violation of federal law”

    Says it all.

  4. SwM.

    “Paul along with Bachmann signs extreme anti-abortion pledge”
    Now if abortion is stopped right in its tracks what is the end game?
    I know you’d like to know also.

  5. The pledge itself consists of four parts.

    First is a promise to nominate judges who “are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, not legislating from the bench.”

    Second is a vow to appoint only anti-abortion personnel to “relevant” administration posts.

    Third is a promise to “advance pro-life legislation” and end taxpayer funding of abortion and de-fund Planned Parenthood “and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions.”

    Finally, candidates must pledge that they will “advance and sign” legislation to protect “unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.”

    Bearing in mind that the current interpretation of the Constitution pretty much mandates the unfettered right to abortion, where’s the extreme part come in?

  6. Kdreadful – “are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, not legislating from the bench.”

    I’d like to introduce you to 5 justices of the USSC who have made more new laws in the last dozen years than previous courts have made in the proceeding 20 years. Of particular note was a singular decision from 2000 that was such a great law the majority ruled that it could never be used as a precedent ever.

    As for original intent should they also rule that blacks only count as 3/5 of a person? Should the second amendment only apply to muzzle-loading muskets? Should the first only apply to actual printing presses? What an infantile definition; here in the real world we understand that times change, needs, wants and dangers change and the Constitution has to be viewed as a framework to deal with these issue not a straightjacket and blindfold.

  7. I think this shit should be legalized….oh…. pharmacology wouldn’t make near as much money….but, I bet the US could balance the hell out of its budget…and states too…lets see…

    Present Burden:

    Prison costs, prosecution costs, investigative costs, defense costs, military costs…..

    Future Benefits:

    Not controlled, Gang activity down, taxes, cia won’t have to compete, LEO could focus on actual crime the list goes on and on…

    Besides, Obama….keep your word…

  8. “First is a promise to nominate judges who “are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, not legislating from the bench.”
    Like some on our current Supreme Court?

  9. @Frank, You’re confusing the Supreme Court Justices (part of the jusicial branch) with the U.S. Justice Department (part of the executive brancht. Dude, that’s just too funny. Stop before you hurt yourself.

  10. This guy has been seeking cover ever since it was passed here:

    Christie says he’ll delay medical marijuana law until feds give OK

    TRENTON — Governor Christie won’t implement the state’s medical marijuana law until the federal government assures him they won’t prosecute anyone for working in the program.

    The federal government has not given similar assurances to other states running medical marijuana programs. Under President Obama, the Department of Justice has not sought to prosecute anyone working in a state-approved medical marijuana program.


  11. Kderosa:

    ” (part of the jusicial branch) -Judicial

    ” executive brancht.” branch

    “Stop before you hurt yourself.

  12. Swarthmore mom –

    Why do you insist on posting something negative about Ron Paul every time Dr. Turley posts something narrowly supportive of him? By now any reader of these comments is well aware of Dr. Paul’s failings. Can’t we still recognize his successes?

    Any civil libertarian should have at least a few good things, as well as a few bad things, to say about Dr. Paul.

  13. Log, Romney didn’t sign the pledge. Only the anti-abortion extremists did. Sometime I think Paul’s views about women fly under the radar so I want to make it known that he is no friend to women and we should beware.

  14. Call me crazy, but I’d like to see marijuana regulated the way every other medicinal herb is: not at all. I don’t use it myself, but, if it were legal, I might give it a try. If it were effective in easing my bad back, growing a few plants in my back yard would save my insurance company about $700/month.

  15. AY has it right…, as does Swarthmore mom about Paul…

    Bette Noir wrote:

    “If it were effective in easing my bad back, growing a few plants in my back yard would save my insurance company about $700/month.”

    Sensible, reasonable… What a lovely dream…, for all, but especially for those without insurance…

  16. I wonder if Mr. Cole is a holdover from the Bush administration. Failing that I
    wonder if the President is aware of this policy? My question isn’t based on whether or not he bears the ultimate responsibility, clearly he does. It just seems so politically stupid that I’d think from that point alone he’d object to the implications.

    Whatever one thinks of their individual politics, the fact that Paul and Sanders can agree on the issue of marijuana legalization should be a clear indicator that the country is ready for it and the issue is non-political. Marijuana should be legalized and taxed. The “Gateway” drug issue is but
    nonsensical propaganda put forth by those who benefit from the “War On Drugs” and is therefore self-serving. Better pot than booze, which is openly, expensively and detrimentally advertised. Besides how long will it ever take for the lessons of “Prohibition” to finally take hold in the consciousness of
    politicians and propagandists of false piety..

  17. kderosa:

    I am just relaying the words of one of my daughters,seeing that your avatar is that of a woman.

  18. Don’t worry- Obama is just doing this stuff to get re-elected. As soon as he is re-elected, he will show us the true progressive he really is.

  19. In Colorado our MMJ law is a joke. If the permissiveness that goes on with the scrips happened with prescription pain killers, there’d be a lot of pharmacists and doctors facing charges and loosing their licenses.

    Most people I know think we should either just regulate it either like we do booze or like we do prescription drugs. Personally I’m all about the first.

  20. I’ve argued the point for years, this is strictly about money. The big pharma companies do not want the medicinal benefits to become accepted as it will cut into their profits from selling us “their” medicines. Why do you think that the largest contributors to the campaign to demonize marijuana comes from big pharma and the liquor companies. Check out who the the contributors were in the fight to defeat prop 19 in California if you don’t believe me.

  21. As the Government has a vested interest in the taxes and kick backs it will not be an issue that will change in the foreseeable future, anywhere in North America. Not with the tax breaks for the rich that are happening on the continent. Keep screwin the poor. Always love that line from the movie Platoon. Poor always been gettin fucked over by the rich, always have, always will.

  22. Dick Cheney owns a sizely chunk of stock (85 million or so) in the GEO Group which runs private prisons. Many prominent former elected Republicans have entered this lucrative industry. Private prison corporations donated to Republican campaigns very generously in 2010. Although I agree that legalizing marijuana would save a lot of taxpayer money, that the “war” has been an expensive and futile farce…as well as the proven medicinal value and the fact that alcohol is much more physically damaging…I just don’t see a political party with such a growing financial stake in keeping it illegal ever voting to legalize it. Politics and money are everything to them, not facts or the will of the People or even state’s rights.

  23. it is fun watching republicans talk about the tenth amendment and states rights then fall all over themselves when it’s put into the context of gay marriage or legalizing marijuana.

  24. This is nonsense! The Federal government has no Constitutional authority to do 90% of what it does. Supreme Court decisions are based on “precedent” which is a lot like the old saw about whispering a joke at a party to one person and then having that person pass it on, etc. By the time it gets to the last person the joke doesn’t resemble its original form. That’s how we’ve gotten the out-of-control, BS government we have that creeps its way into every area of our lives with outrageous penalties for “misbehavior”. The Constitution is now all but meaningless. Wake up people!! Read “1984” or “Atlas Shrugged.” It’s all a game for control – and I’m afraid it’s gone way past the “tipping point.”

  25. I’m with you Dezza, There’s no profit in a drug you can grow on a windowsill or next to the tomatoes and that isn’t illegal. There’s too much money in keeping it illegal, or just illegal enough to not eat into the profits of big pharma.

  26. In Arizona, our state is suing the Feds in order to clarify the dispensaries. (we dont have extra money to do so, but it may be a good thing considering the Obama stance here)

    Which is fine because the law also states if there is not a medical marijuana dispensary within 25 miles of your house, you can grow your own.

    People will find the plant that helps them the most and grow that economically.

  27. “I guess the subtitle to this post is Will Future Presidents All Become Part Of The Same Meme Complex which has a philosophy contrary to traditional constitutional values.”


    Quite a possibility to ponder. Will the US go the way of the Roman Empire. There are certainly a vocal, yet powerful, minority who believe it should. I sometimes wonder if the Bushes, who claim British Royal Lineage, have some master plan for a future coronation? Having read Gibbons “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” admittedly the abridged 3 book edition, I suspect it can happen here.

Comments are closed.