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Obama Administration Issues New Threats Against Medical Marijuana

Submitted by smorgan on

After several ominous months, Obama's Dept. of Justice has issued a formal statement backing away from the President's pledge to respect state medical marijuana laws:

A number of states have enacted some form of legislation relating to the medical use of marijuana. Accordingly the Ogden memo reiterated to you that prosecution  of significant traffickers in illegal drugs, including marijuana, remains a core priority, but advised that it is likely not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or their caregivers. The term “caregiver” as used in the memorandum meant just that: individuals providing care to individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses, not commercial operations cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana.

The Department’s view of the efficient use of limited federal resources as articulated in the Ogden Memorandum has not changed. There has, however, been an increase in the scope of commercial cultivation, sale, distribution and use of marijuana for purported medical purposes. For example, within the past 212 months, several jurisdictions have considered or enacted legislation to authorize multiple large-scale, privately-operated industrial marijuana cultivation centers. Some of these planned facilities have revenue projections of the millions of dollars based on the plant cultivation of tens of thousands of cannabis plants.

The Odgen Memorandum was never intended to shield such activities from federal enforcement action and prosecution, ever where those activities purport to comply with state law. Persons who are in the business of cultivating. selling, or distributing marijuana, and those who knowing facilitate such activities, are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law. Consistent with the resource constraints and the discretion you may exercise in your district, such persons are subject to federal enforcement action, including potential prosecution. State laws or local ordinances are not a defense to civil enforcement of federal law with respect to such conduct, including enforcement of the CSA. Those who engage in transactions involving the proceeds of such activity may also be in violation of federal money laundering statutes and other federal financing laws.

The Department of Justice is tasked with enforcement existing federal criminal laws in all states, and enforcement of the CSA has long been and remains or core priority,

So the Obama Administration's idea of "efficient use of limited federal resources…has not changed," except insofar as they didn't actually want anyone to think it was ok to provide medicine to sick people. How silly of us. Maybe when Obama said things like, "I will not be using justice department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue," he just meant that he wouldn't personally be running around in a kevlar vest and sticking an AR-15 in anyone's face. What the DEA does with its massive budget, however, appears to be another matter entirely.

Whatever one expected to come of Obama's medical marijuana promises, there is no denying that today's events constitute a disturbing departure even from the vague language of the '09 Holder Memo. Obama chose to present himself as a reformer on this issue, and he now richly deserves the inevitable condemnation that comes with opposing 80% of the American public on a basic human rights issue. The war on medical marijuana continues and so must the fight for justice.

You can begin by clicking here to send a note to the White House.

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