Pubdate: Tue, 17 Feb 2009
Source: Daily Free Press (Boston U, MA Edu)
Copyright: 2009 Back Bay Publishing, Inc.
Author: Lilia Stantcheva
Cited: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Bookmark: (Walters, John)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Although the fight to federally legalize medicinal marijuana is far
from new, supporters hope President Barack Obama's administration
will be more favorable to their cause than previous leaders, they

The Drug Enforcement Administration continues to crack down on
cannabis dispensaries in California, one of thirteen states that has
legalized medicinal marijuana,  according to a Feb. 7 Boston Globe
article. However,  National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana
Laws  Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said the new administration
is reviewing the federal policy toward medical marijuana.

"Obama has said it succinctly during his campaign and has expressed
almost an embarrassment that these field agents did the arrests," he

The federal government historically carries "bizarre reefer madness
when current research shows otherwise," St. Pierre said.

"Currently 70 million people live in a state that lets them use
cannabis as a pain reliever," he said. "Massachusetts will vote for
it in two years, and they will say yes, but it's hard to say when the
tipping point has been reached."

Randy Barnett, a lawyer who has represented Californian medical
marijuana advocates, said this policy change is long overdue but he
is unsure if the administration will follow through.

"I am not optimistic that the Democratic majority will be any better
on this issue than the Republicans," Barnett, a former Boston
University law professor who currently teaches at Georgetown
University, said.

Obama recently chose Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske as the new
head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, an act which St.
Pierre said is a  favorable step for NORML's cause. John Walters, the 
current "drug czar," is a social conservative notorious for his
stringent marijuana policy, St. Pierre said.

"Mr. Walters didn't even want to acknowledge the existence of
medicinal marijuana," St. Pierre said. "Mr. Kerlikowske has had to
regulate the Seattle Hemp  Festival and implement the 'law enforcement
priority' placing marijuana as a low concern behind other drugs."

Groups advocating for strict drug policy view Obama's stance as
hypocrisy, they said.

"The President took an oath and promised to protect the 'laws of the
land,'" President and Co-Founder of Dads and Mad Moms Against Drug
Dealers Steven Steiner said. "Federal law prohibits the use of marijuana.

"Obama is sending the wrong message by showing a more lenient stance
on marijuana," Steiner said.

Those in favor of more lax marijuana laws are exploiting other people
to reach their goal, Steiner  said.

"Advocates are using sick and dying people for their cause," Steiner
said in reference to medicinal marijuana advocates. "In reality,
there are reports  linking the drug to disease, including testicular 

BU American Civil Liberties Union President Ryan Menezes said he

"Medical marijuana use is a victimless crime," Menezes, a College of
Communication senior, said. "Science, not politics, should guide
American medicine."

BU political science professor Christine Rossell said she has seen a
shift in opinions around marijuana, but does not credit Obama.

"Views around marijuana started changing long before he took office,"
she said.

College of Arts and Sciences junior Kerry Molloy said she does not
see anything wrong with legalizing medicinal marijuana.

"If it helps with certain kinds of pain, why not?"  Molloy said.
"However, out of everything going on, if Obama doesn't get to it, so
be it. I'm more concerned about getting a job after graduation."
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin