Politico Reports On Obama’s Medical Cannabis Conundrum

The most widely read political website, Politico.com, covers the now clear controversy the Obama Administration has found itself in regarding its semi-articulated medical cannabis policy position post hundreds of law enforcement closures of medical cannabis dispensaries since the fall of 2011.

Beyond bringing this political quandary regarding medical cannabis to a well informed readership, what is notable about the reportage is that buried in the piece is an apparent recent confrontation between cannabis law reform proponent Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and President Obama at a swank fundraiser directly across the street from NORML’s offices at the St. Regis Hotel where Frank confronted the President about the disparity between his rhetoric in favor of medical cannabis and the recent law enforcement actions of his Justice Department.

Frustratingly, the President claims that he does not know what is going on in states like California, Washington, Montana and Colorado regarding DOJ’s efforts to seriously retard patient access to medical cannabis.

Obama sees his history on medical marijuana enforcement differently. The president was again asked about the Justice Department medical marijuana policy at a high-dollar fundraiser at Washington’s St. Regis Hotel filled with liberal mega-donors who paid $35,800 a plate to attend. According to a source with knowledge of the event, which was closed to reporters, Obama reportedly said that the DOJ was raiding purely on a case-by-case basis.

Frank says he got a frustrating response when he buttonholed Obama to complain that this wasn’t true: Obama told the Massachusetts Democrat that, to the best of his knowledge, the 2009 hands-off policy remained in place.

Frank told POLITICO that he’s preparing to send the president press clippings to demonstrate that raids continue across the country.

The tide has turned on the issue — beyond medical marijuana, there’s growing support for full legalization — Frank said, and there’s no reason the president should be lagging behind.

“Obama now lags Pat Robertson in a sensible approach to marijuana,” said Frank, referring to the conservative evangelical leader’s recent criticism of the drug war.


Obama’s pot promise a pipe dream?
By: Byron Tau
April 21, 2012

President Barack Obama has turned out to be a real buzzkill.

Back when he was running in 2008, Obama said he supported the “basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs” and that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws.” He didn’t go farther. But he also didn’t do anything to dissuade speculation among medical marijuana proponents who took this as a sign that the man headed to the Oval Office was on their side.

Four years later, the raids on drug dispensaries have kept up — despite a Justice Department memo formalizing low-enforcement priority instructions from Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced in a March 2009 press conference that the raids would stop on distributors who were in compliance with state and local law. Obama never said anything about supporting legalization or decriminalization, but his medical marijuana statements were enough to get him heralded by some in the larger pro-pot community as the best hope for chipping away at the decades-long drug war.

But the hopes that Obama would be a kinder, gentler, more tolerant drug warrior have gone up in smoke.

“I’m very disappointed,” Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a longtime supporter of marijuana legalization and medical marijuana, told POLITICO. “They look more like the Bush administration than the Clinton administration.”

The dejected medical marijuana supporters are hardly alone. For many in 2008, candidate Obama was like a political Rorschach test: They projected strong progressive positions about everything from legalizing gay marriage to ending all military involvement onto a candidate who never said he agreed with them — but also never explicitly said he didn’t.

Now they’re looking at four years into the Obama administration and wondering where they went wrong.

Read the rest at Politico

47 thoughts

  1. Thank God for Rep. Barney Frank for consistently calling “Bullshit” on all politicians that don’t live up to their word and for standing up to and speaking plainly and honestly on the real issues that matter most to regular people. Misleading talking points=propaganda! He will be sorely missed when he retires!

  2. Our nation is rapidly waking up to the absurdity of outlawing a non-toxic herb and those who use it. There’s something about being a politician that repels an “ah ha!” moment of clarity on this issue. Barney Frank is one of the few who recognizes this reality.

  3. I would not be all that surprised if much of the DOJ’s work against the medical cannabis industry is in fact going under the Presidents radar. I am not sure he realizes just how seriously some of his voters are about this topic. I think that as a community, we also have to consider that politically, it would be a poor move for the president to begin approaching this subject right now. It seems that our media also forgets that the astronomical, and exponential growth of legitimized canna-industry in the US is greatly thanks to Obama’s policy. Are dispensaries still getting shut down? A few sure, but I assure you MANY more opened up then were shut down in the last 12 months. Personally, I think we should focus on getting him into his second term. At that time, I think the stars may just be ready to align…

  4. Long live Barney Frank! Now, he’s a lobbyist to hire on for full legalization. I’m thinking the timeline is full legalization by the time of the U.S. troop pullout from Afghanistan, with cannabis being traded in U.S. dollars and as a commodity priced on a U.S. commodities stock market. Afghan is some of the very best in the world, and there’s no good reason the U.S. shouldn’t take the profits from trading in it to pay for the reconstitution and modernization of Afghanistan, and the Middle East in general.

  5. Uh B Obama isn’t trying to raid the dispensery
    system if it allows “a more general approach”:
    to cannabis as legally smoked . M word is with
    basic wording at Justice Department , illegal.
    Cannabis can be legal if not the Prohibit Dolr
    associated with “ma ri jua na” which is M Word
    the keyword of Drug Enforcement prohibition .,
    Wanting a free supply of money to get cannabem
    is noble I suppose as most of us will want the
    sense of Free Will to begin smoking pot freely
    tho{ugh} getting “m word money” for prohibited
    “last ditch effort to smoke pot legally” dolrs
    as why milara assoc. can say they get payments
    or disability to spend the state’s economy on:
    free ~pot attitude isn’t good money and it thn
    goes to a “compassion provider” who isn’t with
    ways , medical usage , helping the state’s eco
    nomy at all . . it’s taking state’s funding en
    ways it gives all higher cost payment to the :
    private and imposing foundation known to begin
    “siphoning state money to pay prohibited then”
    private providers who are asked by actual DOJ:
    to pay the taxes on consumption product . . .,
    and if private taxes aren’t fulfilling State’s
    coffers ., the depletion of economy asks the :
    affected economy provider [who’s taking money]
    to not deal state {free} money to compassion .
    The falsified DOJ ruling is known to shut down
    compassion centers who don’t comply with money
    tended to help renew finance .,. so B Obama *$
    said what he said . . , to ease up on prohibit
    regulation , and when someone wants free money
    to pay for expensive bud and can’t afford wage
    to work for the money to get the bud .,. it’s:
    Wage Less Economy Depleting Role of Prohibited
    Keyword to Show Finance Basis isn’t Procured :
    as the monetary failure to support State’s New
    Rights to Begin Cannabis Consumption . So what
    is the way to not allow “evasion” in sense the
    States Cannot Review Money Loss if Provided by
    Free “last ditch” Funding and not returned to:
    State Coffers in Case the Money is Unwarranted
    to begin the ruling known to be cannabis tax .
    My thought without supporting DHS will be :@:#
    did DOJ Supreme Court make the ruling to begin
    taking compassion centers who won’t give up on
    “free” prohibition funding or are they working
    on a new set of laws to minimize taxes for the
    cannabis consumers to make it legally smoked ,
    not regulation dollar evasion moderated . . .#
    Thanks , again , Obama’s doing his best to uhm
    free cannabis consumers from evasion and badly
    acquired laws on prohibited Money and Keywords
    so hooray to proper cannabis futures and Happy
    Earth Day to those respecting Manna Legal 🙂 .

  6. I find it hard to believe that Obama lives in a bubble. How is it presidents lose touch with reality?

  7. No mention of how the Obama DOJ has been threatening state legislatures considering medical marijuana laws, something George W Bush would never have dared.

  8. He will be missed but hopefully he can do as much good as possible in calling Obama out on his lies in his last few months. Maybe we’ll even see him giving a speech or two next 4/20 helping even after he leaves his job.

  9. Do you think he would’ve been re-elected easily for this 2012 election if he would have solved this marijuana legalization problem?

  10. Frank is only calling “bullshit” because he’s retiring and not afraid of any fallout. What we as a community need to do is make sure our representatives don’t fear fallout from being outspoken on pro-cannabis policies. We can do this by constantly and consistently voicing our support for those candidates that are pro-pot and say so. We can do it with correspondence, dollar votes, and real votes. Obama played politician and tried to have it both ways: “I’m not for, nor am I against…” We need to back only people like Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, Bill Richardson, Mike Gravel, Gary Johnson, etc… who have explicitly stated they are in favor of marijuana law reform. Those are the people who represent us. As well, would should make our local and state reps feel like we have their backs (because we do) if they have pro-cannabis positions. Of course, they need to be explicit about their stance unlike Obama and we should award them all the support we can muster when they are.

  11. If Obama has “executive authority” to bypass congress,

    Why is he acting so vague at these fundraisers,or is this a bluff?
    He is like superman now, with these “executive powers”, yet the same policies are being continued from the Bush administration.

    Is it still legal to ask questions or is it now a “security threat” i don’t know…scary times were living in.

    And by the way, cannabis proponent and evangelist Pat Robertson
    has leg-pressed 2,000 pounds in the gym, a few years back at the young age of 74! so Obama better listen.:)

  12. Even if President Obama didn’t know about the problem, he sure does now. We saw Attorney General Holder assure a congressman Colorado’s medical cannabis laws would be respected only to see the exact opposite within a few days. Holder doesn’t know what’s going on either? Just who’s in charge here?

    You can damn well be assured that the drug war zealot they put in place as the drug czar knows what’s going on. Bring her into to the White House and demand an explanation and a change. Better yet, get rid of her. Nominating such a person for drug czar and expecting anything other than what we’re seeing is a act of incompetence.

    Incompetence is not something we can tolerate in the White House, as George H.W. Bush so convincingly demonstrated.

  13. Medical Marijauna patients with a valid doctors prescription should be afforded under Federal law mandated protection against arrest and prosecution

  14. It’s a plant , it should be legal! Has everyone forgotten the housing debacle? Even though I agree with him here don’t forget that Barney Frank is a true politician and I don’t trust any of them. Politicians should be fighting this hard for the people the entire time their in office.

  15. @Paul Pot:

    I was surprised when Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize, too. I thought that he hadn’t even done anything yet! Actually though, he’s a black man who got himself elected to the presidency, a stunning achievement.

    This is all the more reason we should expect better from the man than pleading ignorance.

  16. Hello the issue is how can the government say there with god when they take away his plant. The simple matter of the fact is alcohol , cigarette’s, pills and toxic fumes top every death out there if that’s legal and an amazing beautiful plant marijuana/hemp which has no death tolls is not, how is that even logical. Furthermore the gateway drug is prohibition so by not legalizing it, those who go against legalizing are creating the drug problem. If it was legal then people would not have to go to dealers where they would be introduced to new drugs creating the “gateway affect” look at all the benefits of the plant if you think the government will lose control you are wrong we must stop toxic fuels and we must reap the fruits of nature on these natural herbs, we must make the change before we do enough damage where we destroy our beautiful land and earth. Why are non toxic fuels not allowed? How can the government and certain others not see the natural non toxic way to live is the best way to use resources, you are simple going against nature and god by not saving our planet as long as possible your destroying it with your pollution and prohibition on plants!!!!!!

  17. the government is afraid of people growing their own that’s why they won’t make it legal there afraid they would lose money and not all the pot is taxable this is not entirely true if they made it illegal to grow but legal to buy they could tax it there you go you greedy mother nature suckers that’s how you do it pay for advanced equipment on tracking non government grow opps and make it legal to buy for fuel, medicines, and all of the amazing uses such as the nutrients from the seeds themselves and the amazing other benefits that have already been proved and used but PLEASE CREATE A NON TOXIC LEGAL USE OF FUEL AND HEMP/MARIJUANA MEDICINES!!!!

  18. Obama’s not worried about losing the pro-pot vote because there is no pro-pot vote. Non partisan, non political, remember. Good luck with that. Demonstrate that you can deliver 5% of the vote and watch the politicos pander. Or we could all keep doing what we’ve done for 40 years now. We can keep smoking weed, just don’t get caught. Congressmen can keep deleating your e-mails. SWAT teams can keep breaking in your doors and killing your dogs. Reformers always quote that line about ” insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result”. It goes both ways. This is America, no money, no votes, no difference.

  19. “Frank says he got a frustrating response when he buttonholed Obama to complain that this wasn’t true: Obama told the Massachusetts Democrat that, to the best of his knowledge, the 2009 hands-off policy remained in place.”

    Obama would have to be a moron to not know what is going on. Obama has had to deal with marijuana legalization questions being at the top on all his major internet question polls? And he just got back from Latin America where he got hammered by leaders to start a discussion on legalization. Obama knows this is a super hot topic. My guess is that he figured out that he has upset a large portion of his voting base and he is trying to ovoid any more damage by playing stupid.

    Anybody who thinks Barney Frank just came alive for cannabis law reform has not been paying attention either. This man has consistently stood up for marijuana legalization over the years and has been a hero to the movement. Thank you Barney Frank for standing up for the truth.

  20. I’m very glad to see just in the last few weeks since the raid on Oaksterdam and then the protests at CU being blocked. It has casued so many people who would have otherwise kept quiet to add they’re opinions to the mix. People are getting less afraid to admit they smoke pot because they all now realize more than half of the country supports they’re right to. And now it has finally made the mainstream media in an election year. It’s still only the begining but debates will be forced this year and there is no way they can continue to lie like they have previously. By the end of the year we will most likely have 2 states with complete legalization, over 30 with medical, a growing support, and a big change coming very soon after. Some of the older people are just going to have to get used to people smoking pot in the open while they enjoy they’re own beer and ciggarettes.

  21. Commercial production is limited to licensed producers (though non-retail, home production is also allowed)
    Quality control and potency is regulated by the state, and the potency of the product is made publicly available to the consumer
    Retail sale of the product is limited to state licensed distributors (liquor stores, restaurants, bars, package stores, etc.)
    The state imposes strict controls on who may obtain the product (no minors), where they may legally purchase it (package store, liquor store, etc.), when they may legally purchase it (sales limited to certain hours of the day), and how much they may purchase at one time (bars/restaurants may not legally service patrons who are visibly intoxicated, states like Pennsylvania limit how much alcohol a patron may purchase at a licensed store, etc.).
    The state imposes strict regulations prohibiting use in public (no open container in public parks, or beaches, or in an automobile) and/or furnishing the product to minors
    The state imposes strict regulations limiting the commercial advertising of the product (limits have been imposed on the type of marketing and where such marketing may appear)
    States and counties retain the right to revoke the retail sale of the product, or certain types of alcohol (grain alcohol, malt liquor, etc), altogether (dry counties)

  22. Conclusions

    Strict government legalization/regulation of marijuana is unlikely to increase the public’s use of marijuana or significantly influence attitudes.
    Decriminalization is unlikely to increase the public’s use of marijuana or significantly influence attitudes.
    Free market legalization of marijuana without strict government restrictions on commercialization and marketing is likely to increase marijuana use among the public; however, given that the United States already has the highest per capita marijuana use rates in the world, this increase is likely to be marginal relative to other nation’s experiences.

  23. There’s nothing “semi” articulated in Obama’s medical cannabis policy position. He’s against it as he’s said on every occasion he’s ever spoken on the matter.

  24. I doubt that Obama spends much if any time thinking about this issue or keeping up with what his DOJ is doing, but that isn’t the point. He set this all in motion when he appointed Leohnart to head the DEA and chose another cop for “Drug Czar,” whose first official words were that marijuana has no medical purposes. I, personally, don’t believe anything he says anymore, which is too bad because I supported him in the last election. Now I can’t help seeing as a craven poitician who lied to get my money and my vote. I never expected him to come out for legalization, but I did believe him when he said that he wouldn’t use federal funds to subvert state medical marijuana laws. Republicans would never have the guts to do so, but if they embraced this as a state’s rights issue, they could peel some of Obama’s base away from him. Afterall, “liberals” support full legalization more than any other group in the last Gallup poll.

  25. Don’t get punked, they know exactly what’s going on and so do we! If they don’t , why are they so without a sense of morals and without a soul?

  26. all use is medicinal

    Having PTSD does not make you “damaged goods”. Does having cancer make someone damaged? What about depression, or bipolar disorder, or any number of other diseases? Telling someone who has PTSD that they are a monster and therefore need to get help makes about as much sense as telling a woman who has breast cancer that she’s damaged goods and therefore needs chemotherapy. It’s not going to encourage anyone to actually seek help. What it will surely do for vets, though, is reinforce the idea that they are somehow broken, that they’ll be judged and punished for having PTSD, and make them think that they are right to not tell anyone and to not get help. None of our troops who are afflicted with PTSD are monsters, they are not damaged, and 99% of them are not violent, homicidal maniacs about to snap at any moment.

    Read more at YouServed: http://www.vamortgagecenter.com/blog/2012/04/20/dr-phil-vets-with-ptsd-are-damaged-goods-monsters/#ixzz1t2z88n6P

  27. Bradson said:

    Our nation is rapidly waking up to the absurdity of outlawing a non-toxic herb and those who use it.

    rapidly????????????????????? 75 years is NOT rapid, my friend!!!!!!

  28. “some guy” is clearly wrong about Obama’s statements on medical cannabis. He said in 2008 that it should be seen like any other medicine if prescribed “appropriately” by a doctor. He even said there may have to be some changes in federal laws. And he famously said that he wouldn’t “use justice department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” which is exactly what his justice department is doing now.

  29. I also don’t agree Obama is responsible for #$
    the way Powers Being Justice are told to begin
    shutdown of the medical cannabis system as the
    President [Obama] told us he will try to begin
    less harsh tactics on Federal Law affecting !!
    medical cannabis on the West Coast . He’s not:
    Being Dishonest About His Role as Leader . . .
    and Republic[en] sway on DOJ sees the prohibit
    dollar scheme as more money or free will . . .
    and actual Republic problem with the US Policy
    doesn’t seem to care about state’s rights and:
    Rights of Clients of Medical Cannabis . So who
    is giving Justice orders to circumvent State’s
    Law if not the President . The former G W Bush
    administration was a complete failure of older
    policy in the way Tea PArty sees it . . and on
    promise The Obama Administration had alot to :
    Deal With As Regarding Former Bad Policy With:
    Regard to Republic[en] Appeal to American Rite
    to Free Will and Celebration .,. what did the:
    US Policy on Health want with cannabis if the:
    US Populace want to enjoy it and Republic Thot
    doesn’t want to allow it for reason of money .
    My thought , and Tea Party will agree , BObama
    is doing his best to take back Draconian Laws.
    Did the US Policy on cannabis health agree .|.
    It’s a thought to consider who’s complaining ,
    and who’s responsible . Thanks and Hooray . 🙂

  30. If marijuana legalization is the prime focus for you, then you all need to vote in legislators who are going to support this position.

    Also, you all need to register Republican and vote for Ron Paul in your GOP primaries, because he is the only guy running for President who agrees with legalization.

    Here is NORML very own article on where the remaining candidates stand:


  31. Thanks for the reminder, Adam, and the reality check. Looking at that link again, I realize that I’m going to have to vote for Obama again, as much as I hate to vote for someone who lied to me to get my donations and vote last time around. It seems like another president couldn’t possibly be worse than Obama on this issue, but Romney is so backwards and, most likely so rooted in his religious views, that the DEA under him could actually be worse. We shouldn’t forget that this guy believes in magic underwear, gods on other planets, and the evils of caffeine consumption. Holy shit!

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