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The Associated Press: Whiff of change in US medical marijuana policy

The Associated Press: Whiff of change in US medical marijuana policy
By DEVLIN BARRETT – 10 hours ago

The message is clear, said UCLA professor Mark Kleiman, a former Justice Department official and an expert on crime and drug policy.

"It is no longer federal policy to beat up on hippies," said Kleiman.

Tell that to the DEA.

In California this past week, agents raided four dispensaries in Los Angeles and seized 500 pounds of pot.

"It's a little bit surprising, because I think current DEA management didn't get the message," said Kleiman. "The message is, this is no longer drug warrior time. We are not on a cultural crusade against pot-smoking."

California law permits the sale of marijuana for medical purposes, though it is still against federal law.

Thirteen states have laws permitting medicinal use of marijuana. California is unique among them for the presence of dispensaries, businesses that sell marijuana and even advertise their services. Legal under California law, such dispensaries are still illegal under federal law.

"Anyone possessing, distributing or cultivating marijuana for any reason is in violation of federal law," Sarah Pullen, a DEA spokeswoman in Los Angeles, said Thursday.

That may be the law, but it contradicts the medical marijuana position of the new president.

"The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind," said White House spokesman Nick Shapiro, repeating past statements.

So on Friday, DEA officials in Washington declined to comment at all on the subject.

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