Pubdate: Fri, 06 Feb 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Section: B - 6
Author: Michael R. Blood, Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


LOS ANGELES -- The Obama administration should halt federal raids of medical
marijuana dispensaries, a long-sought turnaround from the policy of the Bush
White House, protesters said Thursday.

The Drug Enforcement Administration raided four dispensaries in Los
Angeles this week and seized 500 pounds of marijuana, bringing fresh
attention to the rift between state and federal law on medical
marijuana use. President Obama said during the campaign he would not
use the Justice Department, which oversees the DEA, to circumvent state

Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside a downtown federal office
building to call on the DEA to cease the raids, which also seized
$10,000 in cash. They chanted "Obama stop the raids" and "DEA go away."

"Somebody forgot to tell them all the rules are changing," said Don
Duncan of Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group that promotes
medical marijuana use and research.

California is among the states that allow the sale of marijuana for
medicinal purposes, but the federal government has not recognized
those laws. "Anyone possessing, distributing or cultivating marijuana
for any reason is in violation of federal law," said DEA spokeswoman
Sarah Pullen.

But Obama has said he will change direction.

"I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same
purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by
doctors, I think that's entirely appropriate," Obama told the Mail
Tribune of Medford, Ore., last March. "I'm not going to be using
Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this

Pullen directed questions on medical marijuana policy to the Justice
Department in Washington. On Thursday, White House spokesman Nick
Shapiro said "the president believes that federal resources should not
be used to circumvent state laws. "

This article appeared on page B - 6 of the San Francisco Chronicle.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin