Congress Calls on DOJ to Better Explain Medical Marijuana Policy

Submitted by smorgan on
Via Ben Morris at MPP:

The House committee that oversees the Department of Justice (DOJ) passed an amendment today that adds language to the committee’s report urging the DOJ to clarify its position on state-legal medical marijuana. The provision is a non-binding recommendation, but carries weight given the committee’s role in funding the department.
The language, sponsored by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), states, “There have been conflicting public reports about the Department’s [DOJ] enforcement of medical marijuana policies. Within 60 days of enactment, the Department shall provide to the Committee clarification of the Department’s policy regarding enforcement of federal laws and use of federal resources against individuals involved in medical marijuana activities.”

Although federal interference with state medical marijuana laws has been sparse since Obama took office, we have seen evidence of a potential loophole in the attorney general's pledge to respect state laws. As long as charges are brought in federal and not state court, there exists no mechanism for determining that state laws were ever violated, thus DEA could theoretically raid legitimate dispensaries based on unverified claims that local laws were being broken.

That's why Hinchey's effort to ensure accountability is so important. Although public outrage has been a powerful force towards pushing federal medical marijuana policy in a more reasonable direction, we simply cannot count on DEA to execute the new policy in good faith. The more pressure that's applied early on, the better our chance of ensuring that the worst excesses of the war on medical marijuana are behind us.

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