Justice Department will stop medical marijuana raids, Attorney General says
In a little-noticed remark Wednesday, Obama Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Justice Department will no longer raid medical marijuana dispensaries established under state laws but technically prohibited by the federal government.
The decision marks a shift from the Bush Administration, which was more draconian in its approach to hunting those who sought to dispense marijuana for medical purposes.
Numerous states have decriminalized marijuana in recent years, and new fiscal pressures are turning more states toward being more lenient toward first-time drug offenders as the cost of keeping drug users in jail becomes untenable for state budgets.
The remark was caught by The Huffington Post's Ryan Grimm.
The Drug Enforcement Administration continued to carry out such raids after Obama's inauguration, Grimm says, despite an Obama campaign promise to cease the practice. But asked at a press conference Wednesday, Holder said it wouldn't be the Administration's policy going forward.
"No" it won't be Obama policy, Holder said. "What the president said during the campaign, you'll be surprised to know, will be consistent with what we'll be doing in law enforcement. He was my boss during the campaign. He is formally and technically and by law my boss now. What he said during the campaign is now American policy."
During the campaign, Obama told an Oregon newspaper that he agreed with the idea of medical marijuana. "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," said Obama
At a campaign stop 2007 campaign stop in New Hampshire, Obama was specific about medical marijuana raids. "I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users."
This video is from C-SPAN, broadcast Feb. 26, 2009.
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The following states have medical marijuana laws (click to enlarge -- South Dakota does not):
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