The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is continuing the Bush administration’s policy of raiding medical-marijuana dispensaries in states where the drug is legal for medical purposes, but the raids are expected to end once President Barack Obama appoints his own DEA chief, the Washington Times reported Feb. 5.
DEA raids — authorized by the Bush administration with the blessing of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that federal drug laws trumped state medical-marijuana legislation — have continued right up through this week in California. The DEA is still led by a Bush appointee, acting administrator Michele Leonhart.
However, an Obama spokesperson said, “The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind.”
The continuing DEA raids under the Obama administration has stoked anger among drug-policy reformers and medical-marijuana advocates. “It’s clear that the DEA is showing no respect for President Obama’s campaign promises,” said Dan Bernath, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project.
Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access added, “President Obama needs to keep a promise he made, not just in one campaign stop, but in multiple speeches, that he would not be spending Justice Department funds on these kinds of raids. We do want to give him a little bit of leeway, but at the same time we’re expecting him to stop this egregious enforcement policy that is continuing into his presidency.”