An Obama official informed me that the administration has not changed positions. The administration always maintained that federal officials have the authority -- indeed, a duty -- under the Controlled Substances Act to go after traffickers who use medical marijuana as a pretext.
But Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, sees an escalation in federal raids. "Arrests have not been made every time there's been a raid," Hermes observed. "We call them 'smash and grab.' DEA agents come in, guns drawn -- ski masks, even. They destroy the place. They take everything" -- computers, money, plants.
This is what bothers me: The feds can use their ability to raid and to intimidate landlords without having to prove anything in court.
Lee's attorney, Laurence Jeffrey Lichter, told me U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag has not charged his client, and he hopes she will not. To Lichter, raiding without charging beats prosecuting club operators.
Hermes, however, has big issues with Justice's big-footing. He sees an aggressive campaign to drive medical marijuana clubs out of business -- even if that means cutting off sick people's access to the drug.
"What happens if they're successful?" Harborside's DeAngelo asked. "Cannabis doesn't go away. Medical cannabis doesn't go away." Marijuana instead goes to the street, and the money winds up with "the Mexican cartels."
"Why are such resources, at a time of fiscal crisis, being used to go after a community that has such political support?" Hermes asked. One factor, no doubt, is that Attorney General Eric "Holder and Obama have basically been given a free ride by the mainstream media, and no one's really holding them to account."
Rep. Ron Paul -- the GOP presidential candidate who opposes Washington's war on drugs -- spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board Thursday. Asked about the Oakland raids, Paul opined that it's "all political," a calculation of the sort made in election years. But it's bad politics that don't keep up with how the country is changing.
Last month, pollster Scott Rasmussen reported that 47 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana to help alleviate the country's fiscal woes, while 42 percent oppose legalization.
So why is Obama the drug war's new Rambo?
Candidate Paul concluded, "I think they're out of touch."
Email Debra J. Saunders at email@example.com. To find out more about Debra J. Saunders and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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