Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Medical Pot Advocates Fear Raid Signals Obama Backslide

Medical marijuana advocates are hoping that a raid on a San Francisco club last week doesn't indicate a return to the Bush days and that President Obama plans to stand by his word to let such clubs operate as long as they are in compliance with state laws. But they've been burned too many times to be overly optimistic.

"This has a deeply suspicious feel to it, as if they're conducting business as usual with new rhetoric," says Kris Hermes, a spokesman for American for Safe Access, medical marijuana industry trade group and advocacy organization.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided a San Francisco cannabis club last week without the cooperation of local authorities, making no arrests but hauling out computers and club products. During the campaign, Obama pledged to end federal raids and Attorney General Eric Holder declared that promise to be law, but with the caveat that if clubs violated state law, the feds might intervene. Advocates note that the club in question, Emmalyn's California Cannabis Clinic, had a provisional permit from the city.

"We're concerned that the policy change that has been stated by the Obama administration has not actually gone into effect, because it appears that raids are continuing," says Hermes. "If there were state law violations - and that's certainly questionable - they should be the purview of local and state officials and not the federal government."

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