In yet another merging of Barack Obama with George W. Bush, the Obama Justice Department has declared that it believes that it can (and may) prosecute licensed growers and dispensaries in medical marijuana states for violating federal drug and money-laundering laws. The position came from U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole who rejected claims that a 2009 memo by then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden gave states some protection from prosecution.
The 2009 memo signaled a new policy when it asked prosecutors not to focus investigative resources on patients and caregivers complying with state medical marijuana laws.
Cole however said that, as more states legalize medical marijuana and allow for legal production, the Justice Department may crackdown on these facilities. Cole wrote that “[s]ome of these planned facilities have revenue projections of millions of dollars based on the planned cultivation of tens of thousands of cannabis plants.” So what? Either states are allowed to legalize medical marijuana or they are not. The Justice Department appears to have adopted yet another incoherent Obama policy: it is allowed, but not if it is too big. I believe states should have a right to legalize medical marijuana. Perhaps Obama does not. However, he should have the integrity to say it.
While the Obama Administration is not signalling a change in targeting individual users, the new policy statement signals a hostility to the use of medical marijuana and a belief that it remains a violation of federal law.
Once again, Ron Paul is bucking his party on the issue. Paul has introduced legislation to make marijuana legal and allow it to be taxed and regulated. He introduced the bill with Barney Frank.