Calling it the defining economic issue of the moment, The United States Medical Marijuana Chamber of Commerce which advocates for the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes, endorsed Barack Obama for president today.
“Let’s not get distracted by the myriad of issues that will be brought to the forefront at the upcoming political conventions, the single most important election issue is getting our economy back on track,” said Thomas L. Leto III, President and Founder of the U.S. Medical Marijuana Chamber of Commerce. “The Economic Potential of the Cannabis Business in the U.S. is Limitless and President Obama understands this. It is our impression that Mr. Romney just doesn’t get it.”
The United States Medical Marijuana Chamber of Commerce boasts of a 10,000 strong membership list, with they say, a number of individual state chapters across the country
Mr. Leto said that medical marijuana industry has the potential to become a $100 billion annual industry and would create 5 million new jobs within the first year if legalization passed Congress. Federal legalization would allow transportation of marijuana across state lines he added, making easier for businesses to operate. Under current law, the federal government has delegated legalization of the drug to the state level where local legislatures decide how medical marijuana businesses operate.
The endorsement is something of an odd one: Mr. Obama has led a crackdown on medical marijuana far beyond what George W. Bush attempted. In 2008 he had said that it was something that would be left better to states and municipalities to come up with their own solutions. He explained this discrepancy in a Rolling Stone interview:
What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana,” Obama said. “I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana — and the reason is, because it’s against federal law
“I can’t nullify congressional law. I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, ‘Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books.’ What I can say is, ‘Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.’ As a consequence, there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.
Currently Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have legalized cannabis for medical use.