Obama's pot promise a pipe dream

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Obama's pot promise a pipe dream?

Hopes that Obama would be a more tolerant drug warrior have gone up in smoke. | Reuters
By BYRON TAU | 4/21/12 7:02 AM EDT
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.”
(Also on POLITICO: 4/20: Nine pols who talked pot.)
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.
“I believed in him,” Montana-based activist and medical cannabis user Sarah Combs said about the president. “I don’t believe a word he says now.”
Combs, a native South Carolinian who uses medical marijuana to treat her epilepsy, packed up her life and moved to Montana, where medical marijuana has been legal since 2004.
According to Combs, a sizable Montana community of patients and growers felt empowered by the DOJ memo and the administration’s supportive statements to open up shop, register patients and begin paying taxes on what they thought was now a legitimate business. Then in 2011, federal forces from several agencies raided 26 dispensaries across 13 Montana cities. Other dispensaries have been raided in states like California, Washington, Michigan, and Colorado.
All told, the federal government has raided more than 100 dispensaries — with the most recent busts of a San Francisco Bay area marijuana training center. Obama has vowed more money to hunt down Latin American drug traffickers, promising an extra $200 million in a 2011 press conference with El Salvador President Mauricio Funes. He’s kept in place Bush administration anti-medical marijuana administrators in key administration positions.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0412/75421.html#ixzz1t9YvVLfO

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