DEA Pot Raids Go On; Obama Opposes

DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart.DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart.Drug Enforcement Administration agents this week raided four medical marijuana shops in California, contrary to President Obama’s campaign promises to stop the raids. The White House said it expects those kinds of raids to end once Mr. Obama nominates someone to take charge of DEA, which is still run by Bush administration holdovers.

“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,” White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said.

Medical use of marijuana is legal under the law in California and a dozen other states, but the federal government under President Bush, bolstered by a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, argued that federal interests trumped state law.

Dogged by marijuana advocates throughout the campaign, Mr. Obama repeatedly said he was opposed to using the federal government to raid medical marijuana shops, particularly because it was an infringement on states’ decisions.

“I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” Mr. Obama told the Mail Tribune newspaper in Oregon in March, during the Democratic primary campaign.

He told the newspaper 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.”

Mr. Obama is still filling key law enforcement posts. For now, DEA is run by acting Administrator Michele Leonhart, a Bush appointee.

Special Agent Sarah Pullen of the DEA’s Los Angeles office said agents raided four marijuana dispensaries about noon Tuesday. Two were in Venice and one each was in Marina Del Rey and Playa Del Ray — all in the Los Angeles area.

A man who answered the phone at Marina Caregivers in Marina Del Rey said his shop was the target of a raid but declined to elaborate, saying the shop was just trying to get back to operating.

Agent Pullen said the four raids seized $10,000 in cash and 224 kilograms of marijuana and marijuana-laced food, such as cookies. No one was arrested, she said, but the raid is part of an ongoing investigation seeking to trace the marijuana back to its suppliers or source.

She said agents have conducted 30 or 40 similar raids in the past several years, many of which resulted in prosecutions.

“It’s clear that the DEA is showing no respect for President Obama’s campaign promises,” said Dan Bernath, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, which advocates for medical marijuana and for decriminalizing the drug.

California allows patients whose doctors prescribe marijuana to use the drug. The state has set up a registry to allow patients to obtain cards allowing them to possess, grow, transport and use marijuana.

Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group in California, called the raids an attempt to undermine state law and said they were apparently conducted without the knowledge of Los Angeles city or police officials.

He said the DEA has raided five medical marijuana dispensaries in the state since Mr. Obama was inaugurated and that the first took place on Jan. 22 in South Lake Tahoe.

“President Obama needs to keep a promise he made, not just in one campaign stop, but in multiple speeches that he would not be spending Justice Department funds on these kinds of raids,” Mr. Hermes said. “We do want to give him a little bit of leeway, but at the same time we’re expecting him to stop this egregious enforcement policy that is continuing into his presidency.”

He said he is aware that Mr. Obama has not installed his own DEA chief but that new Attorney General “Eric Holder can still suspend these types of operations.”

The Justice Department referred questions to the White House.

– Article from the Washington Times.

Comments

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous on

    For us to think that Obama will offer any real change towards the war on drug is a bit naive. He has said he is not for legalization but thinks its a waste of money to circumvent state laws! But this is coming from a man who is getting ready to sign the biggest spending bill in history! The DEA has justified their budget for years and will continue to do so. They have even been doing operations with government of Afghanistan to blow up hashish bunkers! That hashish was ostensibly bound for the European market. President Obama feels it is the governments responsibility to take care of its citizens. We can’t ask the government to provide us with “free” healthcare and then expect them to stay out of our lives when it comes to drugs! They see prohibition as risk reduction! Above all else, the Supreme Court of the US has said that federal agents have the constitutional right to enforce federal laws in any jurisdiction of the US.

  2. Anonymous on

    Unfortunately it seams marijuana reform seams to be way down on obama’s to do list,if at all.

  3. smitty on

    The recent affirmation that the Omama administration intends to leash and restrain the federal pit bulls that have continued to ignore state laws regarding medicinal cannabis is hopeful, though that “talk” must be followed by the “walk”…

    Justice. Drug War. Incarceration Nation.

    These three interrelated items can serve as a sort of litmus test as to what kind of “change” can be expected from President Obama.

    Criminal “justice” retains the form but lacks the substance of meaningful just results. At least 97% of criminal indictments result in plea bargains, rather than a trial by jury, often obtained through unethical prosecutorial bullying, torture through prolonged incarceration, and threats of draconian prison sentences should one opt for a trial. Plea bargaining can be said to be a means of forceful self-incrimination, and as such, a clear violation of the 5th Amendment. And, it is increasingly coming to light that many more than a few entirely innocent people are railroaded through corrupt judicial proceedings.

    The experiment in legislated morality known as Alcohol Prohibition was recognized as an utter failure that made alcohol-related problems worse, increased violence and organized crime, and after 13 years was repealed. Though the war on drugs is obviously at least an equal misadventure, after some 80 years it continues on…ruining lives in an often even worse fashion than the drugs themselves. Many, though they committed no violent act, have a felony hung around their neck, making it nearly impossible to obtain a decent job. Asset forfeiture has provided a great profit incentive to police and prosecutors to engage in corrupt practices in order to seize private property.

    The “justice” system and the drug war have been the primary reasons that America has become the world leader in imprisonment of its own citizens, measured in numbers and per-capita rates. America imprisons people in numbers even larger than China, though the Chinese population is much greater, and the Chinese government is generally regarded as more oppressive than the United States government. The building, staffing, and supply of prisons is one of the few growth industries remaining. There is a prison privatization trend that is eager for ever-increasing numbers of “customers” (that means prisoners). The private prison industry spends huge sums lobbying for increased criminal penalties, mandatory minimum sentences, in order to fatten their profits.

    These three issues, being interrelated, reinforce and feed off each other thereby allowing constant expansion of the underlying bureaucracies.

    All three of these issues are a severe disgrace to this country, as well as the people in general. Since these matters cannot be presented as compatible with traditional notions of American Liberty, they are supported with the usual “fear factor” tactics that history has well demonstrated as successful means to accepted governmental tyranny.

    All three of these issues should be of primary interest to our new president…

    Barack Obama has admitted to dabbling with controlled substances when he was younger. While there are several notable examples of successful politicians that similarly admitted to such behavior-Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, G.W. Bush-I can not think of even one that was actually run through the judicial meat grinder as a result of those admittedly illegal activities.

    Such confessions, more often than not, result in winks, nods and snickers, rather than condemnation, and do not serve as a disqualification…

    Had Barack Obama-or the others-been arrested and/or convicted and/or imprisoned, there is little, and likely no chance he-or they-would have achieved any political office, and a very good chance that the criminal record would have negatively effected the rest of their lives.

    So we have the sorry spectacle that, by twist of fate-or mere luck-one can wind up in either high political office or the unemployment line, imprisoned, maybe even homeless, the only differential being having been caught and apprehended, the underlying behavior(s) being identical.

    Now, a political office seeker that, say, admitted to having committed a murder, a rape, an armed robbery, even though having not been caught, having “gotten away” with it, would most likely not be considered seriously by voters.

    How can this be?

    Well, murder, rape, armed robbery…unquestionably these really are crimes, disturbing the sensibilities of any sane person, while the choosing of a mind-altering substance other than the condoned and socially and legally accepted alcohol merely generates the knowing winks and snickers.

    Yet, we-through governments-continue to childishly and foolishly treat certain particular personal choices as crimes to be punished, but only if unlucky enough to be caught by the authorities…

    By luck, chance or fate, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, G.W. Bush, and Barack Obama weren’t caught and ensnared in the criminal “justice” system.
    None of them attempted to correct injustice; indeed, they all supported increasingly draconian measures…to be applied to others…

    In President Obama’s case, we are of course at the beginning of his presidency, but each day that goes by sees increasing numbers of Americans still being caught up in this Drug War nonsense-we can not afford the financial or human cost any longer…

    President Obama has taken steps to correct the abuse of justice in regard to those-mostly foreigners-labeled as “enemy combatants; what about the American people? Shouldn’t true justice for us be an immediate priority too?

    President Barack Obama now has his chance to work real positive “change”, and reverse the oppressive and corrupt tendencies of these three issues that directly impact justice, all three of which just happen to be disproportionately applied to black Americans.
    Being a black man, Obama was very lucky.

    All three issues amount to…justice, something that is supposed to be an absolute right as Americans. It is long overdue that near-extinguished justice be recognized and addressed by those tasked with operating our government, according to, and within the limitations enumerated in the Constitution.
    After all, these guys freely took an oath to do so.

    To be left alone, to pursue happiness…

    To obtain justice, and not be wrongfully imprisoned…

    …shouldn’t be dependent upon luck …