Breaking News: President Obama Issues New Medical Marijuana Guidelines

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director October 19, 2009

    In what can only be described as major departure in the so-called ‘war on drugs’, the Obama Administration is issuing a new three page memo this morning [Paul Armentano updates: You can now read the memorandum, signed by Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden, here. You can also share your thoughts with the White House on the administration’s decision via NORML’s Take Action Center here.] mapping out the federal government’s new guidelines for states that have laws protecting medical cannabis patients.

    In February Attorney General Eric Holder indicated in a press conference that the Obama Administration–which favors physician-recommended access to medical cannabis–would abate from what had been an aggressive law enforcement (and propaganda) campaign against medical access to cannabis.

    Today’s memo from the Department of Justice formalizes these changes and is a MAJOR victory for citizens who support cannabis law reform!

    Report: New DOJ guidelines to back medical marijuana laws
    By Bridget Johnson – 10/18/09 11:40 PM ET

    The Hill

    The Obama administration is set to make a sharp turn from the Bush administration when it comes to state laws regarding medical marijuana usage, the Associated Press reported late Sunday.

    The guidelines to be issued to federal prosecutors Monday will suggest that it’s not a good use of time to go after users and distributors of medical marijuana in the 14 states that allow such usage, while encouraging that illegal pot operations involving violence, firearms and sale to minors still be pursued.

    Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington currently have state laws allowing at least limited use of marijuana for medical purposes. The AP reported that federal prosecutors in these states, as well as top officials at the FBI and DEA, would being receiving the three-page Justice Department memo outlining the new policy.

    Under the George W. Bush administration, medical marijuana dispensaries were still targeted for violating federal law despite state laws allowing pot for medical use. Attorney General Eric Holder signaled a shift in this policy in March, stating that federal enforcement would concentrate on illegal marijuana operations that use medical pot allowances as a cover.

    The move doesn’t come as a surprise, as Obama the candidate had expressed support for states that allowed medical marijuana.

    “I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users,” then-Sen. Barack Obama said on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.

    279 responses to “Breaking News: President Obama Issues New Medical Marijuana Guidelines”

    1. Real Change says:

      Too little too late… no doubt this coincides with obama’s rapidly declining approval ratings. It is a nice gesture and I will take it, but I will not be fooled into re-electing nobama in 2012.

    2. Krist says:

      Hooray! Now let’s see if they actually follow through with it and LEAVE THEM ALONE! I gotta move to Oregon one of these days and join my sister in paradise.

    3. leokrayola says:

      let’s see how long this lasts. OBAMA is just another puppet in my eyes.

    4. Don says:

      “The guidelines to be issued to federal prosecutors Monday will suggest that it’s not a good use of time to go after users and distributors of medical marijuana in the 14 states that allow such usage”.

      That is all it is, A”Suggestion” NOT LAW, Which opens the door to change policy at a moment`s notice and does NOTHING to ensure a patient or caregiver will not be arrested & prosecuted at the whim of an Overzealous Prosecutor or being Harassed by local law enforcement.

      HB 2835 Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act 2009 would be the Official Seal of approval and provide the “Proper” Protection the People Need.
      Obama, Pass it and Do it right, Do NOT make Empty “VERBAL” promises that can be broken.
      Memo`s to other agency’s are NOT law.

    5. Jason says:

      Great! Now free Marc Emery!

    6. Hoss says:

      FANTASTIC NEWS! Better late than never, hey Barack? Now get to work on “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

      And “Real Change” – I admit that Obama has not lived up to my expectations, but what is the realistic alternative? We live in a society where, like it or not, a Democrat or a Republican IS going to win the presidential election. Obama may not be perfect, but where do you think we’d be on medical marijuana if McCain were elected??? You can say, oh I’ll vote for a third party candidate, but you know at the end of the day that is throwing your vote away, and making it one vote closer for the “evil weed” bible-beating GOP candidate…

    7. Titshot says:

      I live in North Carolina and have the need for medical marijuana for I have Hep C and the medicine makes you very sick. The first time around I lost 30lbs (went down to 108lbs). The second time, I lost 21 lbs for I tried to drink a lot of liguid vitamins/calories. So my question is: Is there anything people in NC can do concerning marijuana to assist them in an illness?

    8. Jason says:

      Is there a link to some kind of .gov site? Guess he could stamp HB 1393 too 🙂

    9. David says:

      This doesn’t do much for me until it becomes law and marijuana is rescheduled.

      Obama is not about change or hope. I’ve already given up on him and will NOT be voting for him next election.


    10. Neal Smith says:

      It’s a start. I am fed up with incrementalism in trying to get Cannabis/Hemp relegalized, but apparently if those opposing us see that the sky doesn’t fall when Marijuana is more available, they’ll adapt with a limited amount of whining.

      The move does send a signal, IMO, to state governments that it’s OK to authorize Marijuana as a medicine, something we sorely need.

      We need to fight this war on many fronts, and this is just one of them. But it certainly is a step in the right direction.