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White House Says Medical Marijuana Raids Will End

Friends, this is a moment we’ve been anticipating for a long time:

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. [Washington Times]

It looks like we’re on the verge of a major victory for state medical marijuana laws. For over a decade, this battle has raged from the hills of California to the Nation’s Capital. It has been a defining cause, not only for the medical marijuana community, but for drug policy reform as a whole.

There is no question that a great many challenges remain in our path, but let’s all take a moment to reflect on the fact that our president is poised to order the DEA to stand down. That is not something that happens easily or often. Today’s news suggests the pending culmination of a substantial effort by a broad coalition that is frequently perceived to lack meaningful political leverage. The political landscape is changing before our eyes and I believe we have much to look forward to.

(Please participate in our online action alert and our Facebook petition on this issue.)

Protest Rally Against DEA Raids

While the DEA continues to stage medical marijuana raids in California, nearly three-quarters (72%) of voters think President Obama should honor his campaign pledge to end the raids, according to a poll of 1,053 likely voters by Zogby International. Please join us for this rally/protest! For more information, contact Dale Gieringer at dale@canorml.org or (415) 563- 5858.
Thu, 02/05/2009 - 12:00pm
255 E. Temple St.
Los Angeles, CA
United States

Press Release: Poll -- 72% Want Obama to End DEA Medical MJ Raids

For Immediate Release: February 4, 2009 Contact: Dale Gieringer, Coordinator, California NORML (415) 563-5858 Zogby Poll: 72% of Voters Want Obama to End DEA Medical Marijuana Raids Los Angeles Protest Rally - Thurs. Feb 5th, Noon, Federal Courthouse While the DEA continues to stage medical marijuana raids in California, nearly three-quarters of voters think President Obama should honor his campaign pledge to end the raids, according to a poll of 1,053 likely voters by Zogby International. In a question sponsored by NORML, voters were asked: During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama said he would stop federal raids against medical marijuana providers in the 13 states where medical marijuana has become legal. Should President Obama keep his word to end such raids? Response: Yes - 72%, No - 21%, Not sure - 7%. Yes votes outnumbered No by over 2 to 1 in all geographic, political, and demographic groups. The poll, conducted January 29-31, had a margin error of +/-3.1%. In view of Obama's pledge to end federal medical marijuana raids, advocates have been disappointed by the fact that they have continued since Jan. 20th. Yesterday, the DEA raided four LA-area medical marijuana dispensaries: Venice Alternative Healing, Marina Caregivers, Alternative Caregivers Discount Dispensary, and the Beach Center Collective (contrary to initial reports, a fifth dispensary wasn't raided). The raids were all "smash and grab" operations, in which agents took medicine and cash, destroyed surveillance cameras, and grabbed computers, but did not arrest anyone. California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer denounced the DEA for "unprofessional and piratical conduct" and is calling on supporters to urge President Obama to end the raids. A rally to protest the DEA raids will be held on Thursday, Feb 5th at noon at the LA federal building, 255 E. Temple St. -- Dale Gieringer - dale@canorml.org California NORML, 2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114 -(415) 563- 5858 - www.canorml.org

DEA Raids Again! Call Obama Now!

What Part of ‘Change’ Does DEA not Understand?
For the Second Time, DEA Ignores Obama's Statements, Raids Four L.A. Dispensaries

Dear ASA Supporter,

They must think we’re just going to sit back and take it.

Yesterday, the DEA simultaneously raided four medical cannabis dispensing collectives in Los Angeles. This is the second time, in as many weeks, that the DEA has defied President Obama’s campaign pledges to not use federal resources to undermine state medical cannabis laws.

Our community is in an uproar and we are not going to take this lying down! We need you to ACT!.

The L.A. Times even published an article suggesting that maybe DEA hadn’t gotten the memo that Bush is out?

The U.S. Senate just confirmed Attorney General Eric Holder to lead the Department of Justice under the Obama Administration. We expect this to be the FIRST and LAST of the DEA raids under Eric Holder’s leadership. President Obama said he would stop the raids, and we aim to hold him to his word.

Enough is enough! Please make two short phone calls so that both the President and the Attorney General know that people are sick and tired of DEA interference and intimidation in medical cannabis states. Tell your federal government that you will not tolerate wasteful spending by having DEA harass innocent civilians with smash and grab tactics.

First call President Obama at (202) 456-1111, and then call Attorney General Eric Holder at (202) 353-1555. Be sure to call during office hours, Monday – Friday, 9am -5pm.

Use this script for both:

"Hi, my name is ___________. For the second time under President Obama, the DEA conducted raids on multiple medical marijuana dispensaries in California, despite the President’s pledge to end federal threats, intimidation, and interference in states that have medical marijuana laws. Patients and providers should not have to live in fear of the DEA. Please help us and stop these raids now!."

This is our chance under President Obama. We have to get his attention, and we need your help.


George Pappas
Field Coordinator
Americans for Safe Access

P.S. For more information, visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/DEARaidObama.

United States

More Medical Marijuana Raids in California

You Can Make a Difference



Dear friends,

Who's really in charge here?

While on the campaign trail, President Obama promised to end medical marijuana raids in places like California where the right to use marijuana on a doctor's recommendation is protected.

And now, the DEA has raided not one, but at least four medical marijuana dispensaries in California. Either those were hollow promises or President Obama's Department of Justice is not respecting his stated positions.

Sick patients who use medical marijuana in states like California are in grave danger from these wasteful abuses of federal power. You can do something to help.

Last week, thousands of DPA Network supporters like you faxed the White House imploring President Obama to end these raids. He has yet to respond -- so now is the time to take the next step.

By taking just a few moments to call the White House now and urge President Obama to honor his campaign promise to end these raids, you can protect sick and dying patients. There are detailed instructions on the website.

DPA Network is already working behind the scenes with our allies in Congress to pressure the new administration to stand up for justice. Together, we can ensure the safety of patients across the country, but only if you take action.

I'll be sure to keep you posted as the situation continues to develop. 


Bill Piper
Director, Office of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance Network

P.S. Did you miss my note last week regarding Obama and Medical Marijuana? It's not too late to join the more then 3,100 people who've faxed the White House on this issue. You can also read the news about the most recent raid, and I've pasted below the phone number for the White House, but it's most helpful for coordination efforts if you use the take action button above and log your call.

Who to Contact: The White House, at (202) 456 - 1414.

What to Say: "I just read that the DEA made several raids recently on medical marijuana patients and providers in California. I’m calling to urge President Obama to put a stop to this."

Additional Talking Points (choose one):

  • "I'm mad that my tax dollars are being used to harass cancer and AIDS patients."


  • "I know that President Obama said last year that if he was president he wouldn’t waste law enforcement resources undermining state medical marijuana laws. I really hope he puts a stop to these wasteful raids."


  • "President Bush spent eight years undermining state medical marijuana laws. I hope President Obama doesn't spend eight years doing the same."


  • “I support medical marijuana and hope Obama does, too."
United States

Joe Biden's Drug Policy Record -- a Review

Blogger Lee Rosenberg has authored a six-part series on Joe Biden's role in the drug war, a pretty important topic. While Biden's views on drug policy have certainly improved in recent years, we don't really know how much they have changed, and the history is a pretty bad one. Rosenberg therefore concludes with the $60,000 question (if $60,000 isn't too quaint a number by now):
Unlike his experience in foreign policy and his knowledge of the Middle East (which I’m often impressed by), Joe Biden’s history as a drug warrior likely wasn’t a factor in him becoming Vice President. But as he sets out to play a very critical role in advising a President who might be scrutinized like no other, will he be a continual stumbling block for the reform we desperately need on this front? Will he be the devil on Barack Obama’s shoulder about the drug war in the same way that Dick Cheney was the devil on George Bush’s shoulder about the war on terror?
Only time will tell...

ONDCP: Obama Appoints Edward Jurith Acting Drug Czar

On his first day in office, President Obama named Edward Jurith, a long-time federal anti-drug bureaucrat, acting head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office). It's not Jurith's first time in the caretaker position; he was appointed acting director by President Clinton in January 2001 and served there until President Bush replaced him with John Walters in December 2001.

Ed Jurith
According to his official biography, Jurith has served as ONDCP general counsel since 1994. That position's duties included acting as legal advisor to the director and ONDCP staff and ensuring the agency complied with all federal laws and regulations. Jurith also advised ONDCP on the operations of the much criticized National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, the Drug-Free Communities program (already more prominently displayed on the ONDCP web site), and the Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center (CTAC).

Jurith served as counsel to the US House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control from 1981 to 1986 and as the committee's staff director from 1987 until he moved to ONDCP as the agency's legislative liaison in 1993. Jurith was "instrumental" in drafting the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988, which provide the current statutory framework for US anti-drug policy.

Jurith's appointment as acting drug czar ends the short-lived tenure of Patrick Ward, who was promoted from acting deputy drug czar to acting drug czar by President Bush earlier this month. While Jurith is no friend of drug reform, he is an attorney, not an interdiction advocate like Ward, an Air Force veteran who worked on "countering the nexus between illegal drugs and terrorism" in places like Mexico, the Andean region, and Afghanistan.

Obama's selection of a veteran drug war bureaucrat and key actor in crafting the laws that got us into drug war without end to be acting head of ONDCP suggests that when it comes to drug policy, for now, at least, it's stay the course, not change we can believe in. But Jurith is only acting director; whether Obama will take a bold step in appointing a permanent new drug czar, or when, remains to be seen.

Afghanistan: US Commander Orders NATO to Kill All Opium Dealers -- NATO Balks

According to the German news magazine Der Spiegel, top NATO commander in Afghanistan, US Gen. John Craddock, has issued a "guidance" allowing NATO troops "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan." But other NATO commanders do not want to follow that order, leading to a rift at the top of the allied war machine over who is a legitimate military target.

the opium trader's wares (photo by Chronicle editor Phil Smith during September 2005 visit to Afghanistan)
NATO has reluctantly embraced an expansion of its mission from fighting the Taliban and related insurgents to going after drug trade participants linked to the insurgents. But Gen. Craddock's directive broadens the mission to include any drug traffickers or drug production facilities.

According to the document, a copy of which Der Spiegel says it has, NATO troops can now use deadly force against drug traffickers even when there is no proof they are engaged in armed resistance to NATO/US troops or their Afghan government allies. But that's not what NATO countries bargained for in October, when they agreed to allow NATO soldiers to attack opium traffickers linked to the Taliban.

It is "no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective," Craddock wrote. The alliance "has decided that [drug traffickers and narcotics facilities] are inextricably linked to the Opposing Military Forces, and thus may be attacked."

Gen. Craddock sent his directive on January 5 to Egon Ramms, the German leader at NATO command in the Netherlands, and David McKiernan, commander of the NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. But both commanders rejected it, arguing that the order is illegitimate and violates the laws of war. McKiernan sent a classified letter from Kabul claiming that Craddock was trying to create "a new category" in the rules of engagement that would "seriously undermine the commitment ISAF has made to the Afghan people and the international community... to restrain our use of force and avoid civilian casualties to the greatest degree predictable."

The topic of civilian deaths at the hands of NATO and US troops in Afghanistan is an increasingly prickly one with the people and government of Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai has complained loudly and frequently about repeated US air strikes killing civilians. NATO was forced this week to defend itself by arguing that it had only killed 97 civilians last year, compared to nearly 10 times that by the Taliban.

It is unclear how the conflict between the NATO allies will be resolved. But if Craddock has his way and NATO declares open season on the drug trade, there will be a true drug war in Afghanistan. In a country where the drug trade accounts for around half the gross national product and where members of the government and independent warlords as well as the Taliban have a hand in the trade, it is difficult to see how that will help win hearts and minds.

Drug Task Forces: House Passes Economic Stimulus Bill with Byrne Grant Funds Intact, Reform Advocates Mobilize

The US House of Representatives Wednesday passed the $819 billion economic stimulus bill endorsed by the Democratic leadership and President Obama. The $4 billion in "public safety" funding in the bill includes $3 billion for the Byrne Justice Action Grant program and $1 billion for the Community Oriented Policing (COPS) program. (For detailed coverage of the Byrne grant program, which funds multi-jurisdictional anti-drug task forces, see our story last week here.) But reform advocates, including 15 national organizations, are calling for the funding to be removed or redirected and hoping the Senate will listen.

In a Thursday press release, the groups warned that "a 'stimulus' directed at law enforcement is misguided and could be counterproductive by increasing costly arrests and imprisonments for lower-level offenses." Instead, the groups called for the $4 billion to be spent on "more comprehensive approaches" that will reduce incarceration rates and decrease spending on jails, prisons, and police. They called for spending to be refocused on education, job training, treatment, and other programs shown to boost communities and local economies.

"Economic security is a crucial element of an effective public safety strategy, but this funding will stimulate neither Main Street nor safe streets," said Tracy Velázquez, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), a research organization that studies alternatives to incarceration. "Instead of placing our limited resources in the most expensive, deep end of the system -- police and prisons -- it's time we move more funding upstream, to the kinds of jobs and programs that are proven to promote safety and support communities."

Under the Bush administration, both the Byrne grants and the COPS program were slashed because they were "not able to demonstrate an impact on reducing crime," and the Byrne grants' "lack of long-term goals and measures inhibited targeting of resources to address crime needs," as the Office of Management and Budget put it.

"A $4 billion mistake now will be magnified in the future; jails and prisons will continue to grow at the expense of states and counties, which will be forced to find funds to imprison people by cutting critical community services," said Velázquez. "Let's seize this opportunity to move in the right direction by investing in a more positive future."

The bill now heads to the Senate.

The groups calling for eliminating the Byrne grant and COPS funding are: the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Humane Association, the American Psychological Association, the Center for Children's Law and Policy, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative, the Justice Policy Institute, the Open Society Policy Center, the National Black Police Association, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, the Sentencing Project, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the United Methodist Church, and Youth Represent.

Press Release: DEA Defies Obama Pledge, Raids Medical Marijuana State, Denies Marijuana FDA Research

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JANUARY 29, 2009 CONTACT: Dan Bernath, MPP assistant director of communications, 202-462-5747, ext. 2030 DEA Defies Obama Pledge, Raids Medical Marijuana State, Denies Marijuana FDA Research Medical Marijuana Advocates Call on New President to Rein in Rogue Drug Enforcement Administration WASHINGTON — Officials at the Marijuana Policy Project today accused the Drug Enforcement Administration of defying President Barack Obama's stated position by raiding a California medical marijuana dispensary and called on the president to immediately replace Bush administration holdovers at the DEA. The DEA raided a medical marijuana dispensary in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Jan. 22 – only two days after President Obama's inauguration. During the presidential campaign, Obama repeatedly promised not to waste federal resources interfering in states with laws protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest, and he told Southern Oregon's Mail Tribune editorial board on March 28, 2008, "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue." MPP also urged President Obama to instruct the Bush-appointed current administrator of the DEA to delay a final ruling on a Motion to Reconsider its Jan. 12 decision to deny an application by a University of Massachusetts-Amherst researcher to grow research-grade marijuana in a secure facility, arguing that Obama's own administrator should get to make that decision once in place. The DEA's Jan. 12 denial was one among a series of unrelated 11th-hour regulatory actions the Bush administration attempted to finalize before leaving office. The DEA could rule on the motion as early as Monday unless the White House stops Bush holdover, Michele Leonhart, the DEA administrator. The DEA's Jan. 12 decision came nearly two years after the its own administrative law judge, Mary Ellen Bittner, ruled that approving the application would "be in the public's interest" and after years of delay on the part of the Bush administration. "On the first day of the new administration, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel issued a memo to departments and agencies directing them to hold off on issuing final regulations until President Obama's appointees have a chance to review them," said Aaron Houston, MPP director of government relations. "We're just asking for the same thing here. We'd like a fair hearing from new leadership at the DEA." With more than 26,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit www.MarijuanaPolicy.org. ####

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