I don’t know how I missed this poll from mid-May, but it definitively shows that the American people think the federal government should respect medical marijuana laws in states that have passed them.
These results aren’t particularly surprising, but they do belie the most common explanation for the continued federal raids on medical marijuana establishments. The standard narrative is that Obama continues to sign off on these raids because it’s politically advantageous for him to do so, but that’s hard to believe if only 15 percent of voters support those actions. Furthermore, the respondents who favor prosecuting medical marijuana providers are more likely to be over 65 years of age and identify as Republican, making it extremely unlikely that Obama could win their votes no matter how many medical marijuana clinics he shuts down.
I think the real explanation is perhaps even less flattering to the Obama administration than the idea that the president is sacrificing sick people for political gain. The president simply does not have control over the U.S. attorneys and DEA agents who enforce the laws against medical marijuana. Obama can say that he doesn’t want federal resources going to prosecute medical marijuana providers who are in compliance with state laws. He can even mean it. Federal prosecutors don’t have to listen to him, however.