New legal guidelines have been established for states that allow marijuana smoking for patients and their sanctioned suppliers. According to a report by the Associated Press, the new guidelines state that federal agents will not pursue those who smoke pot for medical reasons or their suppliers provided they are “in strict compliance with state law”.
This new policy that is being issued under President Obama’s administration differs greatly from the policy under the Bush administration which stated that federal anti-pot laws would continue to be enforced regardless of state guidelines.
Currently there are fourteen states which allow some form of marijuana use for the intent to treat to medical conditions: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
The new guidelines, which amount to a 3 page memo at this time, will be sent to federal prosecutors in the 14 above mentioned states. Additionally, the guidelines will be sent to the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration.
Basically, the new guidelines state two things: first, that prosecutors will be allowed to use their own discernment when deciding what cases to pursue; and secondly, the guidelines state that “it’s not a good use of federal manpower” to prosecute those who are within state compliance.
Additionally, the memo states the following:
• Prosecutors are urged to go after those cases in which violence, illegal use of firearms, the sale of marijuana to minors, or money laundering is involved in any way.
• The memo also strongly urges prosecutors to be keenly aware and look for those who are dealing pot, or committing other crimes, underneath a façade of medical marijuana usage.
• The new federal guidelines warn that those who use medical marijuana for reasons other than that of medicinal purposes should be prosecuted.
Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, stated that the new policy is a “major step forward”, and also shows that the federal government is moving toward “respecting scientific and practical reality.”
Obama had stated in an on-line town hall meeting in March, 2009 that he didn’t believe the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana would be a viable means to raise money for California. However, he did promise during his presidential campaign that he would change the policy for those states where the use of medical marijuana is granted.
Sources: www.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_medical_marijuana, www.usnews.com/money/blogs/risky-business/2009/3/26/obama-marijuana-legalization-not-good-for-the-economy