In short: Kerry would stop the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids on seriously ill medical marijuana patients as president. Kerry has previously said he favors federal legislation to allow people with cancer, AIDS, and other serious illnesses to have medical marijuana, with their doctors’ approval.
What Kerry has done: Kerry recently co-authored a letter asking the Drug Enforcement Administration to approve a proposal from the University of Massachusetts Amherst to manufacture marijuana for FDA-approved medical marijuana research. In the October 20 letter to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, Kerry criticized the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s “unjustified monopoly on the production of marijuana for legitimate medical research.” The letter also notes, “Federal law makes clear that the … bulk manufacture of Schedule I and II substances must be provided `under adequately competitive conditions.’ … The current lack of such competition may well result in the production of lower-quality research-grade marijuana, which in turn jeopardizes important research.”
Kerry has neither cosponsored nor voted on legislation directly addressing medical marijuana.*
What Kerry has said: During a Kerry town hall meeting in Henniker on September 20, Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (GSMM) asked Kerry, “Would you stop the raids, as president?” Kerry responded by saying simply, “Yes.”
At an August 6 event hosted by his campaign, GSMM’s Linda Macia asked Kerry, “On the day you take office, will you stop the DEA raids?” Kerry offered to “clarify” his earlier remarks, saying, “My personal disposition is open to the issue of medical marijuana. I believe there is a study underway analyzing what the science is. I want to get that scientific review” before making any decisions. He said he would “put a moratorium on the raids” pending this review, but he didn’t commit to any long-term action to protect patients from arrest.
On July 2, responding to a question from Linda Macia, Kerry said, “I’m in favor of” medical marijuana. Kerry added that he wanted “a full analysis of it” and continued, saying, “I’ve been in favor of its prescription, its prescription for people. We even passed a bill in Massachusetts to allow that to happen.”
*All current members of the House and Senate running for president have voted for District of Columbia appropriations bills that included anti-medical marijuana provisions, but there was never a separate vote on any such amendment.