Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from the LA Times

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Pot politics: Obama feds reverse Bush crackdown

October 19, 2009 |  7:27 am


In a major victory for advocates of medical marijuana, the Obama administration today issues new guidelines that will end Bush-era federal attempts to override state marijuana laws.

Under the new rules to be released today, federal drug agents and prosecutors will be instructed not to pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in the 14 states, including California, that allow medical marijuana.

With marijuana sales still the largest source of income for violent Mexican drug cartels, prosecutors will be reminded to go after people abusing state laws or using medical marijuana as a cover for other crimes.

But two Justice Department officials told the AP that with limited resources, it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who are suffering from cancer and using medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law.

Last fall, when the economy was collapsing and Washington was looking for ways to salvage the nation's economy, there was a boomlet of talk about legalizing pot to tap into a vast underground economy whose producers and customers are not now paying taxes. Stephen Easton, an economist at the Fraser Institute, estimated that a tax on marijuana sales, if patterned on the same model as cigarette sales, could bring in $40 billion to $100 billion in new tax revenue.

Now that's reefer madness. Hmm. Maybe if that deficit gets any bigger...

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Click here for Twitter alerts of each Ticket item. Or follow us  @latimestot  Also on Facebook here.