Obama Orders Medical Marijuana Use Allowed Where State Law Makes it Legal

The Obama administration has changed Federal policies on regulation of medical marijuana use under state law. During his presidential race last year, Barack Obama said that he intended to halt raids of medical marijuana facilities operating legally under state laws. Today, new Justice Department guidelines brought this change about.

The new guidelines order federal drug agents to stop arresting or charging patients, caregivers or suppliers who are dispensing, buying or using marijuana for medical purposes allowed by state law.

Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said today the Obama administration is officially reversing the federal position on medical marijuana and ordering authorities not to arrest or charge any users and suppliers who conform to state laws.

"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, but we will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal," Holder said in a statement accompanying the new guidelines.

"This balanced policy formalizes a sensible approach that the Department has been following since January: effectively focus our resources on serious drug traffickers while taking into account state and local laws," Holder said.

The guidelines reverse Bush administration policy, which held that authorities should continue to enforce federal drug laws even in states where medical marijuana is legal.

Currently, 13 states have enacted laws that make medical marijuana legal. These states are:

Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington.

In addition, Arizona since 1996 allows physicians to prescribe marijuana but has not legalized its use; and Maryland allows medical use defense in court.
For details on state laws visit: http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/viewresource.asp?resourceID=000881

Sources include:

U.S. won't go after medical marijuana in states where legal
Mon Oct 19, 2009
A federal about-face on medical marijuana

Medical Marijuana Proponents Breathe Easier Under New Guidelines
Feds Won't Prosecute Medical Marijuana Users if They Comply with State Laws ABC News