In 2008, antiprohibitionists thought an Obama administration would not tread on medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they are legal. Obama's 2008 campaign spokesman, Ben LaBolt, told me Obama "believes that states and local governments are best-positioned to strike the balance between making sure that these policies are not abused for recreational drug use and making sure that doctors and their patients can safely access pain relief."

Now that Obama's in office, however, the Department of Justice is not allowing the 16 states that have legalized medical marijuana to self-regulate. Exactly the opposite: Last fall, U.S. attorneys in California warned landlords that they must evict medical marijuana clubs or risk having their assets seized. In October, the Internal Revenue Service informed dispensaries that they cannot declare standard tax deductions, because they are criminal enterprises.

"Drug kingpins and cartels don't file taxes. We do," Steve DeAngelo, director of medical marijuana giant Harborside Health Center, told MSNBC. "But no business, including ours, can survive if it is taxed on its gross revenue. The IRS is trying to tax us out of existence."


According to the office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, there were 16,585 felony marijuana arrests in 2010. The administration always maintained that federal officials have the authority -- indeed, a duty -- under the Controlled Substances Act to go after traffickers who use medical marijuana as a pretext.

But Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, sees an escalation in federal raids. "Arrests have not been made every time there's been a raid," Hermes observed. "We call them 'smash and grab.' DEA agents come in, guns drawn -- ski masks, even. They destroy the place. They take everything" -- computers, money, plants.


I love it. This is the America I've always dreamed of . It is a place where the police come into your place of business, guns drawn, sometimes in ski masks, smash your display cases, take everything, and leave without filing any charges. It is a place were, in one state, we can turn 16,000 people a year into felons, wards of the state, propping up State Prison Guard Employee Unions. When those 16,000 people are released from state/taxpayer custody, they will be mostly unemployable, as most reputable businesses do not hire ex-felons.

Thank you Mr. Obama, for once again living up to the "Hope and Change" that inspired so many in 2008.