An important, and long overdue, step in the scaling down of the War on Drugs is being taken today by Eric Holder’s Justice Department. As President Obama promised during his candidacy, federal agents will no longer be arresting people for using, prescribing, growing, or selling medical marijuana in compliance with the laws of their state.
This is fantastic news for AIDS and cancer patients lawfully using cannabis to ease their pain, and it should be considered welcome news by states’ rights advocates as well. As Glenn Greenwald said, there’s no downside.
Federal drug agents won’t pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration.
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 law.
The guidelines to be issued by the department do, however, make it clear that agents will go after people whose marijuana distribution goes beyond what is permitted under state law or use medical marijuana as a cover for other crimes, the officials said.
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.