Drug warriors still on the prowl

While on the campaign trail, Barack Obama expressed refreshing opposition to the Gestapo-like tactics the Bush Justice Department has used to undermine popular will on the issue of medical marijuana.

Despite voters in a dozen states having overwhelmingly approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the Drug Enforcement Administration has conducted a number of heavy-handed raids — particularly in California — to demonstrate that beltway bureaucrats are prepared to ignore the will of the public in these sovereign states.

“I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors (is) entirely appropriate,” Mr. Obama told the Medford (Ore.) Mail Tribune in March. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”

That’s encouraging.

Unfortunately, two days after President Obama was sworn in, DEA agents raided a South Lake Tahoe medical marijuana dispensary, seizing five pounds of pot and a small amount of cash. No arrests were made. According to McClatchy Newspapers, it was the latest of at least five dozen similar DEA operations over the past two years.

And did it accomplish anything, other than to leave a few sick patients without their prescribed medicine? Probably not.

No, President Obama likely had no inkling that the Jan. 22 DEA action was coming — he certainly was preoccupied with other issues. And it’s true that the raid took place before President Obama’s Justice Department team was in place. Attorney General nominee Eric Holder still awaits Senate confirmation, and his proposed deputy has yet to have a confirmation hearing.

But let’s hope the president has been informed of the raid. And let’s hope that after he gets his feet on the ground in the coming weeks, he lets Justice Department officials know that they must finally begin respecting state law on this matter.

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