When President Barack Obama admitted this before he even began his campaign, Americans everywhere believed this would be the turning point for marijuana legislation. To have a person in such a high-ranking position (Obama was still a Senator when he gave this “confession”) openly admit to not only experimenting with drugs, but using it “frequently” was a big leap forward for marijuana supporters. Even more surprising was the lack of backlash on the part of the public. Previous politicians, such as Supreme Court nominee Douglas Ginsburg, received incredibly scrutiny when giving similar remarks, while others, such as former President Bill Clinton provided nonsensical answers when asked if they tried (“I didn’t like it, I didn’t inhale, and never tried it again?).
Hopes for speedier marijuana legislation increased when Obama began his Presidential campaign. Numerous promises were made, from ending raids on marijuana patients and caregivers to withdrawing federal action on states’ jurisdiction on marijuana.. Recent actions have shown that he has began to rescind many of his promises.
Earlier this month, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire vetoed a bill that would have made clear the rules for medical marijuana in the state. However, Gregoire claimed that she was not motivated by the idea of preventing the expansion of medical marijuana, but rather at letter sent by Washington’s U.S. attorneys, who stated that they would prosecute not only growers and providers of marijuana, but also the people who who “knowingly facilitate” their actions. These include state employees who would license and regulate medical marijuana suppliers.
Washington state is not alone in receiving this letter. Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont, all of whom have medical marijuana approved in their state, have been sent in recent months a similar message by their U.S. attorneys, again threatening federal prosecution for aids and facilitators of medical marijuana.
Despite Obama’s claim of a looser attitude of the federal government on state drug laws, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s stricter control directly contradicts what Obama had promised. One wonders whether federal arbitration will only increase as Obama soon heads into another election.