Everyone is in a tizzy over recent DEA raids on medical cannabis users in California since President Obama took office on January 20, 2009. Americans for Safe Access reported on February 5 that White House Spokesman Nick Shapiro expects President Obama to end that policy. On February 5, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws reported that a new Zogby Poll found that 72% of voters surveyed said President Obama should end the DEA raids. The Drug Policy Alliance is urging people to call the White House. The Marijuana Policy Project has reprinted the text of an article from the Washington Times describing the situation, and the Drug War Chronicle provides more details.
It will be interesting to see how President Obama tries to implement a new policy. Will there be an official policy that we can see in writing? Will it be an executive order? The Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment (introduced in Congress from 2003-2007) would have withheld funding for DEA enforcement, but it still leaves a foggy area that medical use of marijuana would still be technically illegal but simply withholding the money to implement a valid federal law. Since possession of marijuana will still be a federal crime, even a seed, the DEA will obviously still be making busts in medical marijuana states. The DEA will then, somehow, have to determine whether people they are trying to bust are protected by state law and avoid arresting them (or, something like that, right?).
I just can't see how this is going to prevent the DEA from abusing state-authorized medical users. Removing marijuana from schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act would make federal and state law consistent, as they should be. The DEA is simply a regulatory agency. Congress never gave the DEA power to make medical decisions in the states. Removing marijuana from schedule I would make it easier to understand and would not rely on the good will of the Obama Administration when George Bush III takes over in 2013 or 2017. How is Obama going to convince the DEA that marijuana actually has accepted medical use anywhere in the United States? I don't think this is going to be as easy as the drug policy reform organizations make it out to be. I like the part where the reform groups ask us to send them more money because Obama kept his word to do something. That certainly gives the reform groups to reason to portray all of this talk (and that's all it is, so far) as a productive use of resources. Is it?
I mean, think about this. Are we asking Obama not to enforce the law? Isn't that exactly what this says?
Gee, what other laws would we simply like unenforced rather than repealed?
How simple. Just leave the law on the books and don't enforce it. Why didn't I think of that?