Federal Prosecutors Tighten Stance Against Medical Marijuana

The U.S. Attorney's office in Colorado is the latest one to advise state prosecutiorial agencies that it will continue to prosecute and impose sanctions against those involved in medical marijuana, despite the Ogden Memo and despite state law to the contrary.

Here are the actual letters, from Colorado Attorney General John Suthers to the legislature, from Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh to Suthers, and similar ones from U.S. Attorneys in Northern California, Hawaii, Eastern Washington and Montana. [More...]

Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh writes in his letter dated yesterday:

At the time the Ogden Memo issued, Colorado law, and specifically, Amendment 20 to the Colorado Constitution, authorized the possession of only very limited amounts of marijuana for medical purposes by individuals with serious illnesses and those who care for them.' As reiterated in the Ogden memo, the prosecution of individuals and organizations involved in the trade of any illegal drugs and the disruption of drug trafficking organizations is a core priority of the Department. This core priority includes prosecution of business enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana.

Accordingly, while the Department does not focus its limited resources on seriously ill individuals who use marijuana as part of a medically recommended treatment regimen in compliance with state law as stated in the Ogden Memo, we maintain the authority to enforce the CS A vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law. The Department's investigative and prosecutorial resources will continue to be directed toward these objectives.

It is well settled that a State cannot authorize violations of federal law. The United States District Court for the District of Colorado recently reaffirmed this fundamental principle of our federal constitutional system in United States v, Bartkowicz, No. 10-cr-00118-PAB (D. Colo. 20 1 O), when it held that Colorado state law on medical marijuana does not and cannot alter federal law's prohibition on the manufacture, distribution or possession of marijuana, or provide a defense to prosecution under federal law for such activities.

...As the Attorney General has repeatedly stated, the Department of Justice remains firmly committed to enforcing the federal law and the Controlled Substances Act in all states.

The proposed bill causing the flurry of letters yesterday is Colorado House Bill 1043, which has passed the House and now heads tot he Senate. The latest version is available here.

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    by Realleft on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 02:45:38 PM EST
    Shuffling our way to change.