HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Guidelines from DOJ for Prosecution of Medical Marijuana Use

In a change in US DOJ policy on medical marijuana use, a new set of formal federal guidelines were announced for U.S. Attorneys in the 14 states that authorize medical marijuana use. These states include Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act.  Schedule I drugs are those that lack a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. This statutory bar ignores over whelming scientific evidence that Cannabis can provide significant medical benefits. This scientific evidence has been the impetus for states to pass laws allowing medical marijuana use that directly conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act. As reported by the AP, the new policy sidesteps some of this state-federal conflict by advising that prosecutors

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.


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