Monday, October 19, 2009

Medical Marijuana

The Department of Justice has announced a new policy regarding federal prosecutions of the use of marijuana permitted under state law for medical reasons. 

In a memo released today to federal prosecutors, David W. Ogden, Deputy Attorney General, states:

The prosecution of significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, and the disruption of illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking networks continues to be a core priority in the Department’s efforts against narcotics and dangerous drugs, and the Department’s investigative and prosecutorial resources should be directed towards these objectives. As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.

This memo solidifies Attorney General Holder's statements we discussed last February that prosecutions of the use of medical marijuana would not be a priority in the new Administration.  


There is also a continuing discussion - - - although apparently not in the current DOJ - - - regarding the decriminalization of marijuana, including substantive due process arguments.


Commerce Clause, Due Process (Substantive), Federalism, Medical Decisions | Permalink

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Has the Executive Branch overstepped its Constitutional authority by declining to enforce certain criminal laws as a matter of published policy?

Specifically, the Attorney General recently announced that he no longer intended to investigate and/or prosecute the possession, use, cultivation, distribution or sale of marijuana in certain states under certain circumstances. He claims that he is vested with the statutory authority to distribute resources within his organization as he sees fit and that his new marijuana drug policy is a result of insufficient resources. Only part of this is true.

The Department of Justice routinely declines to prosecute certain classes of minor criminal offenses. For example, few U.S. Attorneys are resourced well enough to prosecute minor larcenies. They do not, however, promulgate public policy to that effect. It would be preposterous for them to declare, "From this day forward, the U.S. government will decline to investigate and/or prosecute larcenies of $5,000 or less - because the resources previously dedicated to doing so are better allocated elsewhere."

Imagine if the Legislative Branch enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Executive Branch (the folks responsible for the enforcement of that and every federal criminal law) chose not to enforce it as a matter policy? If your response to this is, “Well, that would never happen,” are we to include that they are only responsible for the enforcement of “important laws?”

If the majority of Americans support a total or partial repeal of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, shouldn’t this be addressed by the Legislators they’ve elected? If this isn’t the case, then the Congress should earmark funds specifically for marijuana enforcement by the Department of Justice in their next appropriations bill.

In any event, the Legislative Branch should hold the Attorney General accountable for his actions; a proper accounting is owed to the American people.

Posted by: BKF | Oct 21, 2009 10:15:47 AM

Hello the marijuana in small dosis can help you for glaucoma arthritis and protected the brain but if you smoke too much it can be really a nightmare can mess with you're brain and give you paranoia .

Posted by: tinea corporis | Jun 21, 2010 8:00:27 PM

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