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Lawmakers In 5 States Tell Feds To Back

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Lawmakers In 5 States Tell Feds To Back Off Medical Marijuana

Posted by Michael Greenfinger on April 4, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Posted: 04/ 2/2012 4:26 pm by Lucia Graves

WASHINGTON — Elected lawmakers in five states have a message for the federal government: Don’t interfere with state medical marijuana laws.

In an open letter to the federal government, lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle called on the government to stop using scarce law enforcement resources on taking pot away from medical marijuana patients.

“States with medical marijuana laws have chosen to embrace an approach that is based on science, reason, and compassion. We are lawmakers from these states,” the lawmakers explained in their letter.

“Our state medical marijuana laws differ from one another in their details, such as which patients qualify for medical use; how much marijuana patients may possess; whether patients and caregivers may grow marijuana; and whether regulated entities may grow and sell marijuana to patients. Each of our laws, however, is motivated by a desire to protect seriously ill patients from criminal penalties under state law.”

The letter — signed by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-Calif.), Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Wash.), Rep. Antonio Maestas (D-N.M.), Sen. Cisco McSorley (D-N.M.), Assemblyman Chris Norby (R-Calif.), Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Maine) and Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Colo.) — comes directly on the heels of a federal raid in the heart of California’s pot legalization movement: medical marijuana training school Oaksterdam University in downtown Oakland, where U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials on Monday blocked off doors with yellow tape and carried off trash bags full of unknown substances to a nearby van. An IRS spokeswoman could not comment on the raid except to say the agents had a federal search warrant.

The lawmakers called on President Obama to live up to his campaign promise to leave the regulation of medical marijuana to the states, adding raids would only “force patients underground” into the illegal drug market.

The president as a candidate promised to maintain a hands-off approach toward pot clinics that adhere to state law. At a 2007 town hall meeting in Manchester, N.H., Obama said raiding patients who use marijuana for medicinal purposes “makes no sense.” At another town hall in Nashua, N.H., he said the Justice Department’s prosecution of medical marijuana users was “not a good use of our resources.” Yet the number of Justice Department raids on marijuana dispensaries has continued to rise.

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