- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley criticized the Obama administration Thursday for moving to loosen restrictions on medical marijuana.

At a gathering to discuss health care reform, the Iowa lawmaker criticized the Justice Department’s new policy of targeting California’s medical marijuana distributors only if they violate both federal and state law.

That’s a break from the Bush administration, which targeted dispensaries under federal law even if they complied with the state’s law allowing sales of medical marijuana.

The shift was outlined by Attorney General Eric Holder a day earlier.

“The first rule of medicine, first do no harm, is being violated by the attorney general by his decision,” said Grassley.

The senator said the new policy is counterproductive because marijuana leads to use of harder drugs.

Advocates for medical marijuana defended the president.

“The Obama administration deserves credit for basing policy on facts and science, not the myths perpetuated by Sen. Grassley,” said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project.

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