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President Obama’s Slippery Double Speak on Medical Marijuana | The NORML Stash Blog

President Obama’s Slippery Double Speak on Medical Marijuana

Who in the world could have changed the guy who said "I think we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws" in 2004 into the most anti-medical marijuana president in 2012? (Credit: OpenSecrets.org)

And now, 2008 Barack Obama vs. 2012 Barack Obama on medical marijuana!

2008 Obama:

My attitude is that if it’s an issue of doctors prescribing medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma or as a cancer treatment, I think that should be appropriate because there really is no difference between that and a doctor prescribing morphine or anything else. … I think the basic concept that using medical marijuana in the same way, with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that’s entirely appropriate. I would not punish doctors if it’s prescribed in a way that is appropriate.

2008 – A doctor who prescribed marijuana as treatment for her own breast cancer and then for others’ is busted by the DEA.  She and her husband, a lawyer who suffers from hemophilia, tended a small medical marijuana garden, completely within compliance of California’s Prop 215 (aka “state law”).  They were open and up-front about what they were doing and drew praise from the local leaders for their compassionate operation.  The sheriffs who had been verifying their compliance with state law turned the data over to DEA, who then used their plant counts over the course of the three year statute of limitations to top 100, the magic number needed to secure a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.

But Obama wants to parse it like Clinton – notice “prescribe” and “same controls as other drugs” that medical marijuana can’t claim.  Plus, I’m sure he’d note that Dr. Mollie Fry was busted for growing and selling, not “prescribing”.

2012 Obama:

What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. … As a consequence, there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.

No, but there have been prosecutions of the people who supply and grow marijuana for users of marijuana for medical purposes.  So, technically, you can’t say he lied.  Sure, there have been 170 raids on medical marijuana providers, threatening letters to landlords of medical marijuana providers, revocation of banking accounts for medical marijuana providers, tax liens using drug kingpin statutes against medical marijuana providers, but true to his word, Obama has not busted a patient who was simply smoking a bowl.  It’s just that the patient has to get his medicine from the Weed Fairy.

But as Obama tries to triangulate a position on medical marijuana that maintains Big Pharma’s wishes without alienating his progressive base too much, he has to get past the other part of his 2008 campaign promises:

2008 Obama:

I think there are legitimate concerns in not wanting to allow people to grow their own or start setting up mom and pop shops because at that point it becomes fairly difficult to regulate…. What I’m not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue…

2012 Obama:

I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana – and the reason is, because it’s against federal law. I can’t nullify congressional law. I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, “Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books.” What I can say is, “Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.”

It’s interesting how President Obama can’t overlook the federal law on cultivation and distribution.  Yet he can overlook the use of medical marijuana by patients and its “appropriate” prescription by doctors, which also flouts federal law.  Also, California, Colorado, and Montana had all sorts of state laws on the issue that were circumvented by his raids, but New Mexico’s state laws haven’t seemed to arouse his attention.  It is also interesting that the president is able to ignore completely other federal laws (the Defense of Marriage Act comes to mind, maybe Congressional Declaration of War, a few of our Bill of Rights…) on the books, but that one about planting and selling cannabis is sacrosanct.

So let’s tackle this “prioritization”.  Apparently, the priority is to attack the supply side of medical marijuana and overlook the demand side.  Somehow, it is the thousands of dispensaries and growers that are “really doing folks damage”, but the millions of people consuming their product aren’t being damaged?  So it’s not really the weed that is doing the damage, but the business of weed, in the president’s estimation.

Now when you attack the supply side, the compassionate and, sure, entrepreneurial folks who want to grow marijuana and supply patients legally, in spite of contradictory and vague statutes in medical marijuana states, when you shut the people who want to follow the rules down, you don’t eliminate the demand side.  In fact, you’ve emboldened the demand side by reassuring them that the medicinal users of marijuana are not “really doing folks damage” and are not “prioritized”.

So somebody steps up to supply them, and since you’re squashing the “people [who] grow their own” and the “mom and pop shops”, that somebody is an unregulated pot slinger of dubious ethics and the profits he generates eventually enrich a murderous drug lord in Mexico.  By not going after the patients, you’ve allowed for 1.25 million potential customers for drug kingpins instead of allowing states to regulate the business and reap the tax revenues.

And you talk of the “things that are really doing folks damage” without the ironic realization that when it comes to medical marijuana, you are that thing.  Unless by “folks” you mean “people” and by “people” you mean “corporations”.  In that case, I can see how natural people building an industry around a cheap medicinal herb is “really doing folks damage”.

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I am the producer of The NORML Network, the host of the NORML SHOW LIVE and The NORML Stash Blog, and NORML's Outreach Coordinator. I'm married, live in Portland, Oregon, and I am a registered medical marijuana caregiver in this state. I've worked days as an IT geek and nights as a professional musician. Previously, I have been the host of my own political talk radio show on satellite radio. I've been the High Times "Freedom Fighter of the Month" and I travel across the country to educate people on marijuana reform. I've dedicated my life to bringing an end to adult marijuana prohibition and re-legalizing cannabis hemp, and I'm honored to be chosen by NORML to give voice to the Marijuana Nation and to speak for those who can't speak up.

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4 responses to “President Obama’s Slippery Double Speak on Medical Marijuana”

  1. Mare Boustead

    It is funny that he picks and chooses the laws he wants to obey- you could argue in court that he doesn’t uphold the immigration laws, the laws on marriage between a man and a woman – these are federal govt laws that are on the books! He is a dictator and the sooner people figure that out the better off this country will be

  2. Mary Miller

    As someone who struggles with severe chronic pain (cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, diverticulitis, vitamin d deficiency, osteoarthritis, Arnold Chiari Malformation (brain stem herniation into neck), with spinal stenosis, at c 5-6, and spina bifida occulta (with sac), I live daily with headaches, chronic body pain, severe fatigue, exhaustion with little relief. I broke down before leaving the state (OH) begging my doctor at the time for Marinol, only to be told “that I probably needed to stop thinking of a way to get pain control, maybe acupuncture might help, I don’t know…”

    I moved to oregon because of not getting any relief (both weather related and medically related). I got a script for medical mj, but for the life of me cannot figure out how one does this, or affords this on SSDI…I have asked for help by the local Meetup, but one group is having issues getting meetings, the other hasn’t had one in over a year (in Eugene).

    My concern: I do not want to dish out $350 for the right to use, without a way to get mj or afford the growing/lights/fertizer costs, since no one is explaining how much this is going to cost…I feel totally defeated. Because we live in a mobile home park (rental property), I cannot self grow, without shelling out thousands of dollars for electricity, growing products, etc. Both husband and I are disabled: he can’t even get medicaid!
    We are walking close to needing the food bank every 3 weeks…any suggestions anyone??? I am really lost on this…thanks.

  3. Matterofliberty

    Flat out. Obama is just a fucking liar. Im voting libertarian……again.Go Gary Johnson!!!

  4. Dad

    Obama’s BS has cost him my vote. I’m checking out this Americans Elect thing that looks promising (though most likely hopeless). I’m registered and thrown my support behind Gary Johnson. Who knows? Maybe people like Obama (and to a lesser extent, prohibition-supporting congressman) will eventually get it through their heads that in a close race maybe they should side with the majority of voters in their demographic.

    Unlikely, but who knows.

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