Medical pot backers say L.A. raids betray Obama vow

Thu Feb 5, 2009 9:58am EST
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Several recent federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in California have betrayed President Barack Obama's campaign pledge to halt such busts if elected, medicinal cannabis advocates said on Wednesday.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents served search warrants on four medical marijuana vendors in the Los Angeles area on Tuesday, seizing more than 200 kg (440 pounds) of cannabis, edible marijuana products and about $10,000 in cash, a DEA spokeswoman said.

There were no arrests, according to the spokeswoman, special agent Sarah Pullen.

The busts, following a spate of similar raids in recent years under the Bush administration, drew fire from such groups as the Drug Policy Alliance and Americans for Safe Access, which have advocated legalization and regulation of marijuana for legitimate medical purposes.

They cited comments Obama made during his White House bid last year that he intended to halt raids of medical marijuana facilities operating under state laws.

"If it's an issue of doctors prescribing medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma or as a cancer treatment, I think that should be appropriate because there really is no difference between that and a doctor prescribing morphine or anything else," he said in a March 2008 interview captured on a YouTube video clip.

He added that expanding access to medical marijuana would not be a priority of his administration, but "what I'm not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue."

Asked about those comments, Pullen said, "There has been no direction as to a change in how we ... enforce federal law." The DEA is a Justice Department agency.   Continued...

<p>Medical marijuana is displayed in Los Angeles August 6, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>