Archives : 2009 : October
The Justice Department sent a three-page memo to selected U.S. attorneys outlining its policy for marijuana arrests. The newly clarified policy states that the department plans to refocus its target from medical marijuana users to heftier targets — drug traffickers who are clearly breaking the law.
"It will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "But we will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal," Holder added.
The memo intends to help clarify confusion surrounding medical marijuana laws in the following 14 states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Marijuana Arrests in California
Clarification is particularly significant in the state of California where there has been a lot of confusion and uncertainty surrounding medical marijuana sales. Medical marijuana dispensaries in California have been getting a lot of grief from the government. In fact, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Colley announced earlier this month that he is going to crack down on marijuana dispensaries for over-the-counter sales.
According to Cooley, the roughly 800 marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles are violating the 1996 Compassionate Use Act, a voter initiative legalizing marijuana for medical purposes and a 2003 state law that permits collective cultivation. He argues that by profiting from the sales, the dispensaries are breaking the law.
Cooley’s statement, which was released Oct. 8, sparked public debate from medical marijuana advocates who argue that if they do crack down on dispensaries they will be preventing thousands of seriously ill people from getting the medicine they need.
Clarifying Policies Surrounding Marijuana Arrests
Although some medical marijuana advocates declared victory, the Justice Department sees it differently. Whitehouse spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said the memo simply added guidelines to a decision that has been administration policy since January.
The department’s guidance said it plans to continue to pursue illegal trafficking of drugs, including marijuana, but does not want to waste federal resources on going after "individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law."
For more information about drug trafficking laws in your state, contact Imhoff & Associates.
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