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Pelosi Condemns Medical Marijuana Crackdown

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #733)
Politics & Advocacy

US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) issued a statement last Wednesday condemning the federal campaign against medical marijuana businesses operating in compliance with state law. The prominent Democrat's statement is a clear shot across the bow for President Obama and his Justice Department, which is leading the charge against dispensaries and associated medical marijuana enterprises.

Nancy Pelosi had Obama's ear after he won the White House in 2008. Will he listen to her now? (
"I have strong concerns about the recent actions by the federal government that threaten the safe access of medicinal marijuana to alleviate the suffering of patients in California, and undermine a policy that has been in place under which the federal government did not pursue individuals whose actions complied with state laws providing for medicinal marijuana," Pelosi said.

The House Minority Leader said access to medical marijuana is "both a medical and a states' rights issue" and that it has "proven medical uses," including alleviating the suffering of AIDS patients.

"I have long supported efforts in Congress to advocate federal policies that recognize the scientific evidence and clinical research demonstrating the medical benefits of medicinal marijuana, that respect the wishes of the states in providing relief to ill individuals, and that prevent the federal government from acting to harm the safe access of medicinal marijuana provided under state law," Pelosi said. "I will continue to strongly support those efforts."

Pelosi's statement came the same day that the Alameda County (Oakland) Democratic Party unanimously adopted a resolution "decrying the federal raids on dispensaries and calling for the US Department of Justice to refrain from future expenditure of public resources on any act that contradicts the will of the California voters regarding medical marijuana" and just days after the San Francisco Democratic Party passed a similar resolution.

The Bay Area Democrats are responding to a coordinated crackdown on the medical marijuana industry by federal prosecutors in the state that began last fall and has led to the forced closing of dozens of California dispensaries and related businesses, including such well-respected institutions as the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana and the Berkeley Patients Group, as well as last month's raid that crippled Oaksterdam University.

The toll includes five dispensaries in San Francisco itself. Another four San Francisco dispensaries or their landlords have received similar threatening letters from US Attorney for Northern California Melinda Haag.

The politicians are being prodded by San Francisco United for Safe Access, an ad hoc group of patients, patient advocates, dispensaries, and other stakeholders led by Americans for Safe Access (ASA). The coalition was formed to mobilize political opposition to the Obama administration's crackdown.

"We applaud Pelosi's leadership in urging President Obama to address medical marijuana as a public health issue," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "Rather than defending a policy of intolerance, President Obama should end his unnecessary and harmful attacks once and for all."

There have been more than 200 SWAT-style raids on dispensaries, growers, and associated businesses since Obama took office in January 2009. Most of them have taken place since the administration unleashed its offensive in March 2011 with a series of DEA raids in Montana that decimated that state's until-then booming medical marijuana industry.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Nate Green (not verified)

     Thousands of people are being murdered by the cartels. Tens of billions of dollars are being spent on the border. Why would politicians care about men, women and children getting killed when there is money to be made? I don't really see very much media coverage of the violence in Mexico. Why is that? It is on Americas doorstep and nobody is willing to do what is right. Drugs should be a public health policy, not something that could cause you to lose your job and be thrown in jail over. We all need to wake up and do what is best for humanity not what is more profitable for politicians, corporations and the cartels. America is not the land of the free.

Fri, 05/04/2012 - 12:21pm Permalink
Shell (not verified)

They make some noise, not soon enough , not loud enough, but at least they are starting too make some noise, But the cartels have already paid their money and more people will go to Jail because of this absolutely  intolerable War 

on people

Sat, 05/05/2012 - 2:14am Permalink
Steve Schumacher (not verified)

Contrary to what he says, Obama could easily effect major change in the War on Drugs by repealing the Controlled Substance Act. Over 40 years ago, another executive of the federal government, Nixon, created the CSA and DEA, giving vast powers to the federal government to schedule substances and control the whole array of their uses, including medicinal. Instead of promoting public health policies, the DEA has created more crime and denied many beneficial, therapeutic medications by its abusive intervention in medicine. Obama could use his  executive power to radically repeal the CSA and re-assess the DEA's role in the War on Drugs. But because the mere mention of drugs is an anathema to getting re-elected and the plight of chronic pain sufferers doesn't merit concern from majority interests, Obama won't use his authority to enact any change in the status quo. Once these powerful federal entities are created, political and social forces make it practically impossible to repeal government institutions that have their basis in fear, criminalization and federal power.  

Sun, 05/06/2012 - 7:18pm Permalink
Anonymous0 (not verified)

In reply to by Steve Schumacher (not verified)

" Obama could use his  executive power to radically repeal the CSA and re-assess the DEA's role in the War on Drugs. But because the mere mention of drugs is an anathema to getting re-elected and the plight of chronic pain sufferers doesn't merit concern from majority interests, Obama won't use his authority to enact any change in the status quo. "

Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans support medical marijuana (and 50 percent support full legalization) yet Obama has raided more dispensaries than any previous President. 

Mon, 05/07/2012 - 12:31am Permalink
Steve Schumacher (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous0 (not verified)

I'm certainly not making excuses for Obama. I'm just holding him to his pledges he'd "change" the status quo and wouldn't use the federal government to raid voter-approved, state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries. Instead, the glaring hypocrisy is illustrated in his statements he didn't actually mean what he said and would allow existing federal law enforcement powers to criminalize any instance of marijuana usage, sale, cultivation or distribution because marijuana is illegal and has "no legitimate medical use" as a Controlled Schedule I substance under federal law.

What Obama doesn't say is he has a lot of power, just as Nixon did in creating the War on Drugs with the Controlled Substance Act and the DEA which enforces its provisions, to enact fundamental drug policy changes at the federal level.

Recently, Attorney General Eric Holder - whose Department of Justice administers the DEA, stated Obama could remove marijuana as a CSI and effectively clear the confusion over the hierarchy of federal law imposing over state sovereignty. Obama won't. It's election year, folks, and the drug issue is a politically unpalatable hot potato.

One of Obama's problems is he believes in the omnipotence of federal power. In Columbia, with other presidents urging the US to adopt a rational policy legalizing drugs, Obama stubbornly clung to Prohibitionist sentiments that would be heartwarming to the Temperance Movement a hundred years ago: "I don't think legalization of drugs is the answer." Interestingly even when  alcohol prohibition was repealed on a federal level, states still had the right to regulate or outlaw alcohol. Now, under Obama, the concept of federalism is a quaint anachronism.

Even if Obama were to de-classify marijuana from a CSI into lower scheduling tiers as a "legitimate" medical substance, it would invariably be treated to the same moral hysteria which fuels the DEA's War against Doctors and already legal, legitimate pain-killers. Marijuana, even if legal, would be subject to the same current witch hunt as prescription opioids. The DEA regulates all controlled substances and makes no distinction between its power to control inter- or intrastate commerce of drugs.

Obama won't address the main problem - the federal Controlled Substance Act and the DEA's power to enforce it. 

I am deeply disturbed by the way the Obama dismisses the long-standing tradition of state sovereignty and uses the federal government to abuse chronic pain patients who need legitimate medications that are criminalized by irrational CSA policies and an abusive DEA.









Tue, 05/08/2012 - 1:16am Permalink
Nemo (not verified)

By letting the Obama campaign HQ there know just how ticked off cannabists are, the word was passed up the line VERY quickly, for Pelosi to say what she has.

(Do you honestly think she gives a damn? She's a professional pol. But she and other Dems want to stay in their cushy jobs, and they must be made to understand that's in jeopardy if enough cannabists get mad enough for more demonstrations.)

Keep up the pressure! If more cannabists did so, the heat will increase, and more Dems will find they might need the help of those whose faces he's urinated in.

Obama has made a serious, serious tactical error. Rub his face in it some more; let the Dems know how you feel.

Tue, 05/08/2012 - 3:40pm Permalink
kickback (not verified)

Obama will relax on the Bud once re-elected . Attorney General Holder said that Obama could sign an executive order to re-schedule cannabis . Pelosi would be House Speaker again if Dems. take the House . Congress can re-schedule . The DEA can re-schedule . The first black President of the U.S.A.  can not talk of any drug legalization during his first term . Imagine the gossip . Romney is reefer madness all over again . Imagine Romney and Congress appointing Rudolph Giuliani as Attorney General . Obama and Pelosi have already acknowledged that cannabis law reform is on the table . Patience grasshoppers .

Tue, 05/08/2012 - 10:15pm Permalink
Steve Schumacher (not verified)

In reply to by kickback (not verified)

I wouldn't hold out hope for for Obama being "flexible" on issues once he's re-elected. Obama's been towing the anti-drugs line as vociferously as militant Drug War fanatics; it just won't be one of his issues since he fundamentally doesn't understand libertarian view of legalization. 


The re-scheduling under the CSA-argument is basically falling into the "lobster-trap" which legal pain-killers are subject to. Because of the DEA's Chilling Effect and its concerted efforts to target doctors who prescribe CSII drugs, very few physicians are willing to treat chronic pain patients with opioids. And because of the severe licensure, criminal and regulatory sanctions, those that do will impose a highly onerous, selective and restrictive process of accepting pain patients. Many legitimate chronic pain patients are under-treated, or lack access to legal opioids altogether, even though opioids are the "gold standard" of pain relief.


If marijuana were re-scheduled, it would be just as tightly restricted as legal opioids, and far fewer "pain" patients would have access to medicinal marijuana as they do now as an illegal substance.


Re-scheduling isn't the answer. The whole CSA has to be abolished.

Wed, 05/09/2012 - 2:12am Permalink
Carl Darby (not verified)

In reply to by kickback (not verified)

This is the same package of lies peddled four years ago. The Democrats will do x,y,z, just wait... you'll see.

They have had ample opportunity to do something. They have chosen not to, but they still want the support.

The best bet to end the Wars (drug war included) is to support Ron Paul in the Republican primaries and Gary Johnson in the general election. Let's show them how we really feel.

Thu, 05/10/2012 - 9:14pm Permalink
HiloBob (not verified)

If you think the Obama is hard on MMJ, Just think how compassionate Romney, a guy that doesn't even drink coffee, will be.  Obama's second term could see a HUGE shift, but it remains to see if he can be elected.  Vote for Obama.

Wed, 05/09/2012 - 3:47pm Permalink
carl r larue (not verified)

In reply to by HiloBob (not verified)

"Vote obama", Are you brain dead!  Wake up America! This empty suit has sold you down the river.

This is Bush's third term!

Thu, 05/10/2012 - 11:21pm Permalink
HiloBob (not verified)

If you think the Obama is hard on MMJ, Just think how compassionate Romney, a guy that doesn't even drink coffee, will be.  Obama's second term could see a HUGE shift, but it remains to see if he can be elected.  Vote for Obama.

Wed, 05/09/2012 - 3:49pm Permalink
Nemo (not verified)

In reply to by HiloBob (not verified)

No matter; a shill's a shill. We're not scared of how bad things could get under Romney because things have been crappy for us cannabists for the past 40 years...and in no small thanks in part to the milquetoasty,  craven Democratic Party. We're used to what has you pee-your-pants-scared of. No difference for us, just that more people will, as your beloved Big Dawg so unctuously, mendaciously put it, 'feel our pain'.

'Vote Obama". Suuuure we will, after all he's done 'for' us. (Mocking laughter) You should take up cannabis and lay off the booze; the latter destroys brain cells, while the former protects proven in the scientific studies we paid for and whose results are regularly ignored by Mr. "Let Science Govern Policy".

Bugger off, shill(s?) Nobody here is buying what you're selling.

Thu, 05/10/2012 - 10:44pm Permalink
marjiemiller (not verified)

Obama and the democrats have already shot themselves in the foot, for no apparent reason at all. There will be no youth vote or anyone else at Obama's rallys, and they will sit there and wonder why. Morons. No Change whatsoever.

Wed, 05/09/2012 - 4:00pm Permalink
11110 (not verified)

Obama has been sworn in to the federal reserve... Ron Paul 2012

Wed, 05/09/2012 - 7:27pm Permalink
kickback (not verified)

I would love to see Ron Paul as our next President . But guess what ? Too many people are easy puppets for establishment  propaganda . Some people vote based on family and friends " recommendations " . How many don`t vote ? I will vote for Paul because he would be a better President for this country than the other options . Obviously . As voters in number , we are not there yet . Obama , as our first black President can not speak of any drug legalization at all . It`s basic common sense . I hope to see Obama get a second term . I also hope to see Ron Paul get more votes than romney . His boy Rand needs to get his Cannabis information right in time for 2016 . Patience grasshoppers .

Thu, 05/10/2012 - 11:31pm Permalink
Bobby B (not verified)

now if diane will get on board and stop chanting that same old "tough on crime" mantra; but then again we need to keep those prisons filled up with more american citizens!

Fri, 05/11/2012 - 5:13pm Permalink

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