Obama Owns Up to War on Weed

By McCarton Ackerman 04/27/12

Despite claims of "softening" drug policy, the President admits responsibility for the MMJ crackdown to Rolling Stone.

Obama makes his case to Rolling Stone. Photo via

So much for Obama's drug policy softening. Just a week after the White House said their drug policy will eschew punishment for addicts in favor of treatment and prevention, the President has admitted to Rolling Stone that he was responsible for the federal Justice Department's crackdown on California's state-legal medical marijuana industry. His rationale is that he never made a promise to ignore federal law, and even if he did, he can't, because Congressnot the White Housemakes the laws. "I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuanaand the reason is, because it's against federal law," says Obama. "The only tension that's come upand this gets hyped up a lotis a murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users."

However, while Obama says that there haven't been prosecutions for medicinal marijuana use, this seems to be contradicted by the case of Scott Feil, a former MMJ dispensary operator who is currently incarcerated in a privately run federal prison in Taft. Several marijuana advocacy groups have also criticized the President's explanation for not being elaborate enough. "President Obama failed to come clean on reasons for the breadth and intensity of the attacks, which significantly escalated since he took office," write Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans For Safe Access. "US Attorneys have made little reference to targeting medical marijuana businesses because they're allegedly selling to non-patients. The prevailing excuse has been simply that dispensaries are federally illegal or that they are too close to schools and other so-called "sensitive uses" (according to federal standards, not to local or state standards)."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.