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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Federal Law does not Allow Marijuana to be Sold or Used for Medical Purposes

As reported by the Associated Press, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden released a policy memo that outlines suggestions for state attorneys regarding prosecution of medical marijuana users and distributors. Federal law does not allow marijuana to be sold or used for medical purposes even though various states do, California among them. The memo suggests that state prosecutors would make better use of their time by not focusing on prosecuting legitimate marijuana patients or the dispensaries in states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. This memo was also distributed to the higher rungs of the Drug Enforcement Agency and FBI.

This policy does not prohibit federal agents from making arrests nor does it stop prosecutors from filing charges. The memo draws attention to illegal usage and distribution, or marijuana cases connected to other violations such as money laundering or illegally armed people. One reason for the shifting focus is because of the limited resources the federal agencies have. The article quotes Attorney General Eric Holder "[i]t 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...". It would appear then that medical marijuana users and providers in California will be less likely to face prosecution from federal authorities. (See California Health and Safety Code Section 11357(b)). Criminal Law Updates from the Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo (714) 547-4636

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