Obama’s medical marijuana truce
How the Obama administration’s deferring to local drug laws will change the national debate on pot use
Finally, “one of those rare instances of unadulterated good news from Washington,” said Glenn Greenwald in Salon. President Obama’s Justice Department has instructed federal prosecutors to stop arresting medical marijuana users who conform to their states’ laws. Obama deserves “major credit” for pursuing a rational policy with “little political gain.” Ironically, “given the ‘socialism’ and ‘fascism’ rhetoric,” it’s also a “major advancement” for states' rights.
The “glee” over Obama’s “apparent newfound love for federalism” is a little premature, said Joseph Lawler in The American Spectator. First, the rationale for the new policy isn’t based in law; it’s that busting medical pot users is a poor use of limited resources. And second, it’s “an odd kind of reform federalism” that allows “dubious” states’ rights, “i.e. the right to be potheads,” while “trampling” bigger ones, like the right to choose a health-care system.
The real problem with Obama’s new policy is that it “didn’t go far enough,” said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial. If it’s a waste of federal resources to prosecute “cancer and glaucoma patients in some states, then the guidelines should be applicable to all 50,” not just the 13 that allow medical marijuana use. Congress, and Obama, should scrap the “questionable” federal ban on pot.
Even without legalizing pot—which isn’t on the table—this should broaden access to medical marijuana, said Christopher Beam in Slate. “Most states take their cues from the federal government on drug policy,” and if the Obama team has removed the “looming threat” of DEA crackdowns, medical-marijuana laws will probably pass in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, and a dozen other states. “The popular will is there—it’s just a matter of time.”