Pelosi statement against dispensary raids in California

Nancy Pelosi issued a statement on May 2 expressing her “strong concerns about the recent actions by the federal government that threaten the safe access of medicinal marijuana to alleviate the suffering of patients in California, and undermine a policy that has been in place under which the federal government did not pursue individuals whose actions complied with state laws providing for medicinal marijuana.”

She further stated – directly contrary to the position of the Executive Branch: “Proven medicinal uses of marijuana include improving the quality of life for patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other severe medical conditions” and “Medicinal marijuana alleviates some of the most debilitating symptoms of AIDS, including pain, wasting, and nausea. The opportunity to ease the suffering of people who are seriously ill or enduring difficult and painful therapies is an opportunity we must not ignore.” She concluded: “For these reasons, I have long supported efforts in Congress to advocate federal policies that recognize the scientific evidence and clinical research demonstrating the medical benefits of medicinal marijuana, that respects the wishes of the states in providing relief to ill individuals, and that prevents the federal government from acting to harm the safe access of medicinal marijuana provided under state law. I will continue to strongly support those efforts.”

A recent article from Santa Cruz suggests that Pelosi’s statement is part of a renewed resistance within Congress to the Department of Justice attack on the legal cannabis industry. Farr, Paul, Hinchey and Rohrbacher are introducing legislation preventing any federal funds from being used to interfere with cannabis supply that is legal under state law.

For those of you who missed it, in my previous epic 12-part post, Madmen Rule You, I discuss and analyze at length the legal trickery which the DEA uses to support the position that there is no medical use of cannabis. Part of the takeway from my article is the conclusion that the DEA constitutes a rogue federal agency operating as a permanent and untouchable government-within-the-government. As was obvious from (a) the DEA’s disregard for the 2009 “Ogden memo” (a vague statement by an Assistant US Attorney which advocates believed meant that Obama had given them a full green light to proceed) and (b) Obama’s appointment of Michele Leonhart (a DEA officer alleged to be key in the DEA’s attacks on dispensaries notwithstanding the Ogden memo) as DEA Administrator, the president cannot control it.

As I read Pelosi’s statement and the Santa Cruz Sentinel article, I wonder if these expressions of Congressional opposition to the federal attack on the legal cannabis industry indicate awareness of the primacy of DEA’s active role in maintaining prohibition. Pelosi and the other Democratic legislators are not condemning the President for the actions taken by the Executive Branch. Perhaps that is because they do not want to push too hard against party lines. Perhaps it is because they recognize that the president is functionally held hostage by the federal drug police and needs backup.

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Author: Noah Potter Law

I'm a commercial litigator based in New York providing provide legal research, writing and strategic analysis as an independent contractor to other attorneys. I have unusually long experience with drug law and policy generally and with cannabis in particular dating back to my time as an undergraduate political science student at Columbia.

4 thoughts on “Pelosi statement against dispensary raids in California”

  1. This is an interesting conjecture. I shudder to think what a sham the presidency is if you're correct. Rogues can be brought to heel when the will is there. I don't see will on Obama's part to do anything but more of the same in the drug war and financail fields. What a thunderous dissappointment he has been.

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  2. Perhaps now is the time to call for strong Public Outcry. A saturation campaign to Congress supporting the lawful commerce of medical cannabis and the defunding of the DEA. I am seeing this in the news and on fb. We need to get the idea of a saturation campaign and strong message in support of MC into the hands of every congressional ally.

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  3. Yes, it is time for strong public outcry. The initial question to ask is why does the DEA refuse even to hear evidence as to whether there is a medical use for cannabis. The next level up is to ask why is there a DEA – i.e. why are the police in charge of psychoactive substances. The followup question is to ask whether putting police in charge of psychoactive substances does anything but create problems.

    As to Obama, I don't see that he has the political capital to do anything on his own – without political cover. If there had been some coordinated focus on the DEA by the reform activist population earlier on in the presidency he would have had the popular support to stand up to the DEA. Instead the reform activist population became inebriated with what it thought was Obama's protection and sailed forward blithely with the belief that they had won the war – without eliminating their enemies when they had the chance.

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