The new policy represents a significant turnabout for the federal government. During the Bush administration, DEA agents shut down 30 to 40 marijuana dispensaries, the agency said...
“Holder’s statement marks a dramatic shift in U.S. drug policy and is a major victory for the 72 million Americans who reside in states where the use of medical cannabis is legal,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said in a statement.
Thirteen states allow the cultivation, sale and use of medical marijuana.
Armentano said the shift would add momentum to campaigns in states that are considering their own medical marijuana laws. The New Jersey Senate approved such a bill Monday, and Gov. Jon Corzine said he would sign it if it cleared the state Assembly.
Also, President Obama plans to repeal a Bush-era abortion rule:
President Barack Obama plans to repeal a Bush administration rule that has become a flash point in the debate over a doctor's right not to participate in abortions. The regulation, instituted in the last days of the Bush administration, strengthened job protections for doctors and nurses who refuse to provide a medical service because of moral qualms...It's good to have adults in charge again.
Federal law has long forbidden discrimination against health care professionals who refuse to perform abortions or provide referrals for them on religious or moral grounds. The Obama administration supports those laws, said the HHS official.
The Bush administration's rule adds a requirement that institutions that get federal money certify their compliance with laws protecting the rights of moral objectors. It was intended to block the flow of federal funds to hospitals and other institutions that ignore those rights.
But the Obama administration was concerned that the Bush regulation went too far and could also be used to refuse birth control, family planning services and counseling for vaccines and transfusions.
The White House released a statement saying that Obama supports a "carefully crafted" conscience clause — not Bush's version.
"He believes this issue requires a balance between the rights of providers and the health of women and their families, a balance that the last-minute Bush rule appears to upset," the statement said.
The administration will review comments from the public before making a final decision. Options range from repealing the regulation to writing a new one with a narrower scope.