Monday, October 19, 2009

Federal Goverment to Announce New Policy Towards Medical Marijuana States

AP Newsbreak: New medical marijuana policy issued

October 18, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will not seek to arrest
medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state
laws, under new policy guidelines to be sent to federal prosecutors

Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The
Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use
of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in
strict compliance with state laws.

The new policy is a significant departure from the Bush administration,
which insisted it would continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws
regardless of state codes.

Fourteen states allow some use of marijuana for medical purposes:
Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan,
Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and

California is unique among those for the presence of dispensaries —
businesses that sell marijuana and even advertise their services.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in March that he wanted federal law
enforcement officials to pursue those who violate both federal and state
law, but it has not been clear how that goal would be put into practice.

A 3-page memo spelling out the policy is expected to be sent Monday to
federal prosecutors in the 14 states, and also to top officials at the
FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The memo, the officials said, emphasizes that prosecutors have wide
discretion in choosing which cases to pursue, and says it is not a good
use of federal manpower to prosecute those who are without a doubt in
compliance with state law.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to discuss the legal guidance before it is issued.

At the same time, the officials said, the government will still
prosecute those who use medical marijuana as a cover for other illegal
activity. The memo particularly warns that some suspects may hide
old-fashioned drug dealing or other crimes behind a medical marijuana

In particular, the memo urges prosecutors to pursue marijuana cases
which involve violence, the illegal use of firearms, selling pot to
minors, money laundering or other crimes.

And while the policy memo describes a change in priorities away from
prosecuting medical marijuana cases, it does not rule out the
possibility that the federal government could still prosecute someone
whose activities are allowed under state law.

The memo, officials said, is designed to give a sense of prosecutorial
priorities to U.S. Attorneys in the states that allow medical marijuana.
It notes that pot sales in the United States are the largest source of
money for violent Mexican drug cartels, but adds that federal law
enforcement agencies have limited resources.

Medical marijuana advocates have been anxious to see exactly how the
administration would implement candidate Barack Obama's repeated
promises to change the policy in situations in which state laws allow
the use of medical marijuana.

Shortly after Obama took office, DEA agents raided four dispensaries in
Los Angeles, prompting confusion about the government's plans. com/hostednews/ ap/article/ ALeqM5i9mnrkJu2S 7Mly9xuWs4p9\

No comments: