President Obama should call off the medical marijuana raids

By J.D. Tuccille

Asked about medical marijuana on the campaign trail in New Hampshire just a year and a half ago, then-Senator Barack Obama said, “I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It’s not a good use of our resources.” Admittedly, he’s been on the job just a few days, but now-President Obama’s administration has just overseen its first medical marijuana raid. It’s time for him to live up to his promise and call off the dogs.


It’s not right to blame the new White House team for the raid in South Lake Tahoe, California. Drug Enforcement Administration officials are still hold-overs from the old administration, with the priorities of the Bush White House. So when the DEA stormed into Holistic Solutions and stole money and marijuana, they were following an old game plan — not necessarily the new one.

So consider this a test. Did Barack Obama mean what he said about pulling the federal government out of the business of kicking in doors and hauling people to jail for using marijuana to treat medical problems? The ball is in your court, Mr. President.

Asking the new president to live up to his promises on medical marijuana is hardly radical. No, radical would be to ask him to respect people’s right to consume whatever substances they please, to produce those substances, to buy them from willing sellers, and to sell them to eager customers. Radical would be to demand that he recognize that people should be free to do whatever they want so long as they don’t violate the equal rights of others.

In other words, whatever is peaceful.

Asking the president to live up to his own promise on medical marijuana isn’t radical at all. It’s just a matter of pointing out that we want to see him walk the walk after talking the talk.

President Obama will be off to a great start if he quickly reins in the DEA and offers credible assurances that this raid will be the last such raid on his watch. If he doesn’t … Well, that will say an awful lot about what we can expect from this administration.

As for whether what we get is enough … Well, some of us think it’s long past time to make a few radical demands.