The Obama administration has recently come under fire, even from many former supporters, amidst a season of scandal and unpopular policy — revelations of domestic spying, prosecution of whistle-blowers & journalists, and now, the prospect of a messy war in Syria. In a breathtaking show of resolve, the administration is showing signs of giving in to popular opinion — by signalling that it is ready to think about the possibility of considering trying out maybe not being so harsh on enforcing federal marijuana prohibition in states with legalized medical marijuana.
“It’s a win-win,” says Attorney General Eric Holder. “The president gets a little bit of good press during a tense week. And the American people get to chill out a bit — you know, mellow, take the edge off.”
“We’re looking at a war with Syria here. Syria has a mutual defense pact with Iran. And Iran has a mutual defense treaty with Russia,” Holder recites, his eyes glazing over. “All things considered, we’d rather have consumers sitting on their couches, eating potato chips, watching a TV drama about sexy young revolutionaries — and not in a tent on the capital lawn, protesting World War III.”
The announcement is the latest in a series of announcements, staggered across the past five years, signaling President Obama’s relaxed attitude towards enforcement of federal marijuana laws.
Unfortunately, progress comes at a price. More money and more armed federal raids than ever before in history are being dedicated to squashing state medical marijuana laws, in the five years since Obama has taken office. “There’s no question that Obama’s the worst president on medical marijuana,” says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.
- See related: Rolling Stone: Obama’s War on Pot
The news comes as a renewed measure of hope for some, such as Justine, a cancer patient who has had difficulty in legally filling her doctor’s prescription for medical marijuana. “Don’t get me wrong — I understand the political realities that the Democrats have had to deal with. And they’ve done a lot with healthcare already, like the Affordable Care Act,” she says. “It hasn’t fixed everything — I still am underinsured, and I still can’t get my medicine. But there are other good things about the ACA. Did you know about the refund check that you get at the end of the year? I may not be able to get the treatment I need, but I was able to get a nice electric can opener.”
“But now, I have the added hope that — someday soon — I can follow my doctor’s recommendations without being worried about getting arrested or shot. And each year for the past five years, I’ve only gotten more hopeful about that.”
She has good reason to be hopeful. Attorney General Holder explains: “Basically, what we’re saying is this. It’s still illegal. We reserve the right to take action against dispensaries if we have to. And we’ll still have to prosecute any violations of federal law, using, you know — using whatever tools are at our disposal that we have to, to do that. We’re prosecutors. That’s just what we do. And naturally, it will be up to individual U.S. Attorneys to interpret their duties.”
“But don’t misunderstand me,” Holder clarifies. “This is a big announcement, a big step.”