Barney Frank Criticizes Obama Administration On Medical Marijuana Raids

Retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) sharply criticized the Obama administration's recent raids of medical marijuana dispensaries in states where its use is legal.

"I think it's bad politics and bad policy," he told The Hill in an interview Friday. "I'm very disappointed. I think it's a grave mistake." He added that he had brought the criticism to the president.

Frank has introduced the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, which would prohibit federal actions in state medical marijuana programs. He also doesn't smoke marijuana, once telling an interviewer, "Do you think I’ve ever had an abortion? I don’t play poker on the Internet, either."

The administration's crackdown on marijuana dispensaries has drawn criticism from other lawmakers. Nine House members -- eight Democrats and one Republican -- signed a letter in October calling on the Justice Department to end its targeting of cannabis dispensaries.

Comedians have taken notice too. Jimmy Kimmel, speaking at the White House Correspondent's Dinner Saturday, quipped, "What is with the marijuana crackdown? Seriously, what is the concern? We will deplete the nation's Funyun supply?" He continued, "Pot smokers vote too. Sometimes a week after the election, but they vote."

The Justice Department has conducted over 170 SWAT-style raids in 9 medical marijuana states, according to Americans For Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana group.

DEA and IRS agents raided Oaksterdam University, an Oakland, Calif.-based trade school known as the 'Princeton of Pot,' earlier in April. Oaksterdam's founder, Richard Lee, decried the crackdown in an interview with HuffPost. "This is one battle of a big war," he said, "and here's thousands of battles going on all over."

During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama was asked about medical marijuana by a Southern Oregon newspaper. "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue," he said.

Obama was asked about his stance on medical marijuana recently by Rolling Stone, and he clarified that during the campaign he had said that he would not prioritize prosecuting people using medical marijuana. "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," he said.