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Hundreds of Medical Marijuana Supporters Protest Obama in Oakland as Feds Escalate War on Pot

Demanding answers for unjustified federal raids and threats, patients challenged the DEA's claim that marijuana has no medical use.

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That crime rises when a previously legal substance is suddenly criminalized is a lesson we well know in the United States of America. As Judge Gray pointed out to the crowd, if Oaksterdam and Harborside are closed, “people will still be getting marijuana, but it will be in illegal manners.”

“The U.S. attorney is definitely abusing her discretion,” said Steve DeAngelo, founder of Harborside and longtime cannabis reform advocate. “Why does she feel it’s so appropriate to spend limited federal law enforcement resources persecuting people who are in compliance with state law?”

“Bag the Haag,” chanted marchers in one of the rally’s less tactful moments, imploring the president to fire the U.S. attorney. Even Judge Gray expressed his support for that use of executive authority. “Every U.S. attorney works for the Department of Justice and is therefore ostensibly obeying Holder’s directions,” he said. “It’s well within the chain of command for the president to intervene.”

In the wake of the 2006 U.S. attorney firing scandal, the famously risk-averse Obama administration is unlikely to pursue so high-profile and drastic a measure, especially given that Attorney Haag is a Democrat and the election is just a few months away.

Many protesters mentioned the more than $100 million in tax revenue the medical marijuana industry generates for the state of California, in a time of budget cutbacks – not to mention the cost of the investigations, prosecutions and raids. “It’s very nice of President Obama to come out with his words of grief over the Colorado shooting,” said Rauscher. “But why are you not using the limited resources of the Department of Justice to go after the illegal assault weapons that have infected our cities and our country?”


J.A. Myerson is a reporter for Truthout and Citizen Radio.