Newsbrief: Lieberman Clueless On California Medical Marijuana Raids 12/5/03

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Democratic presidential contender Sen. Lowell Lieberman (CT) showed himself clueless about the Justice Department's attacks on California medical marijuana patients and providers during an appearance on C-SPAN Tuesday night. Lieberman, who cosponsored a 1998 resolution opposing efforts to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, in part on grounds that it would "create ambiguous cultural messages about marijuana use," had promised during his campaign to bone up on the medical marijuana issue. But it is clear from his remarks Tuesday that he isn't there yet.

During the live C-SPAN broadcast, Aaron Houston of Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (http://www.granitestaters.com), a group formed by the Marijuana Policy Project with the express purpose of giving the issue a high profile in the Democratic presidential nomination campaign, posed the following question to Lieberman: "Will you stop [Attorney General] John Ashcroft's raids on cancer and AIDS patients, and other seriously ill people who happen to use medical marijuana under the sanctions of state law?"

"I've asked my staff to check into... accusations that Aaron and others have made, that our Justice Department is spending too much time carrying out raids on cancer patients, AIDS patients, doctors who are using marijuana as a pain killer. I don't know that -- and I'm waiting for an answer to that... But in fairness, I want to get a full report before I make any accusations or conclusions about what even this Justice Department and this administration is doing."

"We're amazed that Senator Lieberman still doesn't understand the suffering that armed DEA agents have inflicted on California's medical marijuana patients for the simple act of taking their medicine, even though these raids have received extensive press coverage, and we have provided the senator's staff with extensive documentation," said Houston.

On its web site, Granite Staters gives the Democratic candidates letter grades on the medical marijuana issue. The group recently raised Lieberman's grade from a D- to a D+, but it seems the grade should be "incomplete." Lieberman saying he had to investigate "accusations" of Justice Department raids is less believable than saying the dog ate my homework.

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