Attorney General Announces Formal Medical Marijuana Guidelines

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder announced formal guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that have enacted laws authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The guidelines make clear that the focus of federal resources should not be on individuals whose actions are in compliance with existing state laws, while underscoring that the DOJ will continue to prosecute people whose claims of compliance with state and local law conceal operations inconsistent with the terms, conditions, or purposes of those laws, the feds said.

“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. “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.”

The guidelines set forth examples of conduct that would show when individuals are not in clear and unambiguous compliance with applicable state law. Fourteen states have enacted laws in some form addressing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

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