NCIA, Drug Reform Groups Tell Obama it’s Time for ‘New Approach’ to Medical Marijuana Policies

The leading U.S. industry trade group for medical marijuana businesses and several drug policy organizations are calling on President Barack Obama to halt the government’s crackdown on the cannabis industry, saying Monday’s raids in Oakland are particularly egregious.

The groups sent a letter to the president this morning expressing their “deep sense of anger and disappointment” in how Obama has handled medical cannabis issues over the past year in states that have passed MMJ-friendly laws.

“Instead of celebrating – or even tolerating – this state experimentation, which has benefited patients and taken profits away from drug cartels, you have turned your back as career law enforcement officials have run roughshod over some of the most professional and well-regulated medical marijuana providers,” the letter states. “We simply cannot understand why you have reneged on your administration’s earlier policy of respecting state medical marijuana laws.”

The letter calls for a new, more rational approach to medical marijuana policies and asks Obama to respect state rights on the issue.

Six groups attached their name to the letter: The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). The letter was addressed to Obama, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Deputy Attorney General James Cole and Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

While this weeks raids of Oaksterdam University and several other sites tied to well-known MMJ advocate Richard Lee were “beyond reprehensible,” they are part of a larger pattern by the federal government of going after legitimate businesses that are complying with local laws, said Aaron Smith, executive director of the NCIA.

“In addition to conducting shocking and violent raids on patients and providers,” Smith said, “the federal government is pressuring financial institutions to close the accounts of legitimate businesses, threatening state officials for merely attempting to implement reasonable regulations, and carrying out unfair and aggressive IRS audits.”

The letter comes on the heels of a similar statement issued earlier this week by lawmakers in five states calling for Obama to end the campaign against medical cannabis.