Nancy Pelosi issued a statement on May 2 expressing her “strong concerns about the recent actions by the federal government that threaten the safe access of medicinal marijuana to alleviate the suffering of patients in California, and undermine a policy that has been in place under which the federal government did not pursue individuals whose actions complied with state laws providing for medicinal marijuana.”
She further stated – directly contrary to the position of the Executive Branch: “Proven medicinal uses of marijuana include improving the quality of life for patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other severe medical conditions” and “Medicinal marijuana alleviates some of the most debilitating symptoms of AIDS, including pain, wasting, and nausea. The opportunity to ease the suffering of people who are seriously ill or enduring difficult and painful therapies is an opportunity we must not ignore.” She concluded: “For these reasons, I have long supported efforts in Congress to advocate federal policies that recognize the scientific evidence and clinical research demonstrating the medical benefits of medicinal marijuana, that respects the wishes of the states in providing relief to ill individuals, and that prevents the federal government from acting to harm the safe access of medicinal marijuana provided under state law. I will continue to strongly support those efforts.”
A recent article from Santa Cruz suggests that Pelosi’s statement is part of a renewed resistance within Congress to the Department of Justice attack on the legal cannabis industry. Farr, Paul, Hinchey and Rohrbacher are introducing legislation preventing any federal funds from being used to interfere with cannabis supply that is legal under state law.
For those of you who missed it, in my previous epic 12-part post, Madmen Rule You, I discuss and analyze at length the legal trickery which the DEA uses to support the position that there is no medical use of cannabis. Part of the takeway from my article is the conclusion that the DEA constitutes a rogue federal agency operating as a permanent and untouchable government-within-the-government. As was obvious from (a) the DEA’s disregard for the 2009 “Ogden memo” (a vague statement by an Assistant US Attorney which advocates believed meant that Obama had given them a full green light to proceed) and (b) Obama’s appointment of Michele Leonhart (a DEA officer alleged to be key in the DEA’s attacks on dispensaries notwithstanding the Ogden memo) as DEA Administrator, the president cannot control it.
As I read Pelosi’s statement and the Santa Cruz Sentinel article, I wonder if these expressions of Congressional opposition to the federal attack on the legal cannabis industry indicate awareness of the primacy of DEA’s active role in maintaining prohibition. Pelosi and the other Democratic legislators are not condemning the President for the actions taken by the Executive Branch. Perhaps that is because they do not want to push too hard against party lines. Perhaps it is because they recognize that the president is functionally held hostage by the federal drug police and needs backup.