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Obama Administration Ends Persecution Of Medical Marijuana Users

by @ 8:40 am on October 19, 2009. Filed under Barack Obama, Individual Liberty, Politics, War On Drugs

The Obama Administration has finally brought an end to the Federal Government’s insane war on sick people:

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 Monday.

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 Washington.

California is unique among those for the widespread presence of dispensaries — businesses that sell marijuana and even advertise their services. Colorado also has several dispensaries, and Rhode Island and New Mexico are in the process of licensing providers, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a group that promotes the decriminalization of marijuana use.

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 three-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.

”This is a major step forward,” said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. ”This change in policy moves the federal government dramatically toward respecting scientific and practical reality.”

It’s a first step, but a very good first step.

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11 Responses to “Obama Administration Ends Persecution Of Medical Marijuana Users”

  1. EJ says:

    finally, some good news coming from the white house for a change

  2. James Young says:

    So, I guess it’s OK for an Administration to ignore congressionally-passed statutes, so long as you agree with the outcome.

    Good to know you have some “standards.”

  3. Bleev says:

    Don’t worry, James, if you need some marijuana, give me a call.

  4. James,

    Would you prefer they ignore the 10th Amendment ?

    If the people of California want to make marijuana use legal for medical purposes, why should the Feds say no ?

    And, where in the Constitution are federal laws against any drugs authorized by the way ?

  5. James Young says:

    Well, Bleev, no one “needs” marijuana, and I’m certainly no exception to that, so thanks, but no thanks. However, please leave your number, and I’ll be happy to refer it to the appropriate Commonwealth’s Attorney.

    And Doug, why shouldn’t they “ignore the 10th Amendment”? They ignore the First, Second, and — according to you — the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth, with the PATRIOT Act, and probably a few others, too. Suddenly — and NOT out of an abiding concern for the 10th Amendment (nice effort to avoid the criticism, by the way) — they decide they’re not going to enforce a validly-enacted and judicially-reviewed and upheld law, and you’re celebrating the fact.

    Interesting double standard.

  6. James,

    Where’s the double standard ? I oppose federal drug laws and so I support any Administration’s effort to exercise prosecutorial discretion in matters such as this.

    I guess you’d prefer the Bush Administration’s heartless and ineffective approach to the War On (Some) Drugs.

    And the fact that the Feds have been derelict in respecting the Constitution in the past is no reason to object when they do it now

  7. James Young says:

    That’s all well and good, Doug, but I guess I’m missing something, since I nowhere see reference to the Tenth Amendment in the Administration’s announcement of the new policy.

    I guess it’s just a rationalization authored by supporters of more liberal drug policies.

    Or more probably, wishful thinking, which is a poor substitute for sound constitutional reasoning.

  8. James,

    Please identify the constitutional provision that, properly construed, gives Congress the power to regulate what someone puts in their body.

  9. James Young says:

    Oh, I don’t disagree that there is no “constitutional provision that, properly construed, gives Congress the power to regulate what someone puts in their body.” But here, you’re endorsing the President’s SELECTIVE determination of those congressional enactments — constitutional or not — that he chooses to enforce.

    For once, those calling for impeachment may actually be right. Not that it will get anywhere.

  10. Would this not fall under the rubric of prosecutorial discretion ?

  11. [...] (well, maybe only where I look) I see talk about the Tenth Amendment. Last week President Obama announced that “it will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious [...]

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