As one of our commenters likes to remind another, “small steps”:
The Obama administration will not seek to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws, under new policy guidelines to be sent to federal prosecutors Monday.
Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state laws.
The new policy is a significant departure from the Bush administration, which insisted it would continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws regardless of state codes.
This is good news and – although the fed seems to reserve the right to change its mind – a return to a modicum of federalism. Kudos where and where they’re due. And another step toward the decriminalization of pot.
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This is “change” (with the appropriate hat tip to the Obama administration) I can support:
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is sending strong signals that President Obama – who as a candidate said states should be allowed to make their own rules on medical marijuana – will end raids on pot dispensaries in California.
Radley Balko says:
It’ll be interesting to see if this tiny bit of federalism will hold should some states or cities decriminalize or even legalize marijuana entirely.
That’s the true test. While what Holder is saying is encouraging, the proof will be how the feds react to the types of moves Balko notes above. If the states are going to truly be left to make their own rules, that will be the test.
After the federal Drug Enforcement Agency raided a marijuana dispensary at South Lake Tahoe on Jan. 22, two days after Obama’s inauguration, and four others in the Los Angeles area on Feb. 2, White House spokesman Nick Schapiro responded to advocacy groups’ protests by noting that Obama had not yet appointed his drug policy team.
“The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws” and expects his appointees to follow that policy, Schapiro said.
We’ll see if this precedent (and policy) is confined to things like MJ laws or will be extended to such things as school vouchers and the like.