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AG: Feds to stop raiding medi-pot outlets

February 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Californians voted to legalize marijuana for medical purposes more than a decade ago, but under the Bush administration, dispensaries were raided for violating federal law. President Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, says that stops now. There are between 300 and 400 medical marijuana dispensaries within the state of California. One dispensary owner is calling this a celebration because gone are the days of looking over your shoulder, concerned about the next federal raid.

We may have seen the last of the federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries. Attorney General Eric Holder says President Barack Obama and his new administration are keeping the campaign promise to stop raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in 13 states, including California, where voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, making it legal to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

This is welcome news for patients like Aaron McGee, who has kidney failure and requires dialysis three times a week. McGee says medical marijuana helps fight back pain, nausea and weight loss.

"I think that's great you know? It definitely takes a lot of pressure off of people because they're worried about coming into one these places and the DEA running in while they're in here," said McGee.

Jason Beck owns a medical marijuana dispensary that was raided in 2007. He says the new government policy is long overdue.

"The medical cannabis community should be extremely happy that Barack Obama was elected into office, and it's just a day of celebration. Really, who this truly benefits more than anyone is the patient," said Beck.

But law enforcement officials have a different perspective. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Spokesman Steve Whitmore explains the department never conducted any raids, and the federal government's policy won't change anything they do on a local level.

"The sheriff does believe that there is a legitimate value to medical marijuana, but just because something has legitimacy does not necessarily mean it prohibits it from abuse," said Whitmore. "There is abuse and we will be about our business."

And because there is abuse, Whitmore says, the department will continue to monitor the dispensaries as they have been doing all along.


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