Barney Frank: Obama’s crackdown on marijuana ‘bad politics and bad policy’


(THE HILL)   Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said President Obama is making a “grave mistake” by cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries that are legal in some states.

“It’s unfair and will hurt innocent people,” Frank told The Hill.

Frank, a longtime supporter of more liberal rules on marijuana, said he is “very disappointed” that Obama isn’t sticking with his campaign promise to let state laws rule on the medical use and distribution of the drug.

“I think it’s bad politics and bad policy,” Frank said. “I’m very disappointed. I think it’s a grave mistake.”

Liberal supporters of the president have decried federal action against marijuana dispensaries in states like California and Colorado, where the use and sale of the drug is permitted in some cases.

Federal officials have raided more than 100 medical marijuana businesses since 2009, when Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that those in compliance with state law would not be a federal priority, according to reports.

The president defended his administration’s actions in an interview with Rolling Stone released this week.

“What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana,” Obama said, adding that he can’t “nullify congressional law.”

Obama sought to clarify the administration’s position this week.

“I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana,” Obama said, “and the reason is, because it’s against federal law.”

Frank said he has told Obama personally that he is “making a mistake on this,” though he doubts medical marijuana will be an issue for the president in the 2012 campaign.

“Not against Mitt Romney,” Frank said of the presumptive GOP nominee.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

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