A step in the right direction.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is sending strong signals that President Obama - who as a candidate said states should be allowed to make their own rules on medical marijuana - will end raids on dispensaries in California.
Bill Piper, national affairs director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a marijuana advocacy group, said the statement is encouraging.
"I think it definitely signals that Obama is moving in a new direction, that it means what he said on the campaign trail that marijuana should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue," he said.
Piper said Obama has also indicated he will drop the federal government's long-standing opposition to health officials' needle-exchange programs for drug users.
During one campaign appearance, Obama recalled that his mother had died of cancer and said he saw no difference between doctor-prescribed morphine and marijuana as pain relievers. He told an interviewer in March that it was "entirely appropriate" for a state to legalize the medical use of marijuana "with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors.