Obama supports medical pot clubs
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois has become an increasingly firm advocate of ending federal intervention and letting states make their own rules when it comes to medical marijuana.
His Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, is less explicit, recently softening a pledge she made early in the campaign to halt federal raids in states with medical marijuana laws. But she has expressed none of the hostility that marked the response of her husband's administration to California's initiative, Proposition 215.
Ever since California voters became the first in the nation to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, the state has faced unyielding opposition from the federal government, which insists it has the power to prohibit a drug it considers useless and dangerous.
McCain has waffled on the issue.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee-in-waiting, has gone back and forth on the issue - promising a medical marijuana patient at one campaign stop that seriously ill patients would never face arrest under a McCain administration, but ultimately endorsing the Bush administration's policy of federal raids and prosecutions.
Political battles over exempting medical patients from marijuana laws have been fought mostly in statehouses and at ballot boxes since 1996, when California voters repealed state criminal penalties for those who used the drug with their doctor's approval. But the federal government has played an important role in limiting the scope of those state laws, and their effectiveness over the next four years may be determined by the next president.