Green Party to Obama: Call off federal crackdowns on medical marijuana, respect state laws


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s..." width="200"> Medical Marijuana shop, Denver, Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Green presidential nominee Jill Stein challenges Obama on marijuana policy.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders and candidates called on President Obama to order his Justice Department to stop overriding state laws that allow medical marijuana by raiding and prosecuting cannabis dispensaries.

"The federal crackdowns show the Justice Department's disregard and contempt for local and state laws, scientific evidence of marijuana's usefulness as a medical treatment, and the needs of patients," said Tony Gronowicz, Green candidate for the US House in New York's 7th District. "We urge President Obama to honor his 2008 campaign promise not to target medical marijuana."

In 2008, Barack Obama said "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue." Attorney General Eric Holder said that his Justice Department would respect state medical marijuana laws, until the administration reverted to Bush Era zero-tolerance policies.

"We demand that President Obama honor his pledge and order the Justice Department, Treasury Department, IRS, DEA, and other federal agencies to stop penalizing medical marijuana growers, dispensaries, and patients. The Obama Administration has already closed more dispensaries than all previous presidents combined. There is no difference between Obama and Romney on this issue," said Laura Wells, 2010 Green Party candidate for Governor of California.

Greens noted the recent federal forfeiture action against the Harborside Health Center and raids by federal agents and federal raids and closure of dispensaries run by marijuana activist Richard Lee.

"These facilities, based in Oakland and San Jose, California, were models for legally recognized and effective medical marijuana facilities," added Ms. Wells, an Oakland resident.

Marijuana has been legalized for medicinal purposes in 17 states and the District of Columbia, with more states considering legalization. Despite these statutes, federal raids are continuing in California, Washington, Montana, and other states.

The Green Party supports an end to marijuana prohibition and drug decriminalization and especially opposes the bipartisan war on medical marijuana and sees hope in proposed national legislation such as the States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act (PDF) and Truth In Trials Act.

Greens have called the War on Drugs and draconian drug laws a war on Americans -- an abuse of federal power that mainly serves the private prison industry, which profits by filling up cells with more and more inmates. Despite its nontoxic composition, cannabis remains a Schedule I narcotic according to the FDA's classification. As a result, industrial hemp remains outlawed despite the thousands of products that can be produced from it, many of them safe alternatives to petroleum-based products.

According to the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, legalizing and regulating cannabis would give patients a substitute for dangerous prescription opiates and other drugs in the treatment of chronic pain.

"Cannabis has proven over and over to be an effective treatment for pain, nausea, and other symptoms of AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, substance abuse, and other ailments. While Obama and Romney prefer get-tough posturing and wrecking the lives of innocent Americans, Greens are standing up for the rights and well-being of patients and for sane drug policies," said Carl Romanelli, state chair of the Pennsylvania Green Party and past director of Pennsylvania NORML.

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