The United States Department of Justice announced a critical update to its’ Federal Marijuana Enforcement Policy today, August 29, 2013 in a memo to all United States Attorneys.
According to their website, “In a new memorandum outlining the policy, the Department makes clear that marijuana remains an illegal drug under the Controlled Substances Act and that federal prosecutors will continue to aggressively enforce this statute. To this end, the Department identifies eight (8) enforcement areas that federal prosecutors should prioritize. These are the same enforcement priorities that have traditionally driven the Department’s efforts in this area”.
“Outside of these enforcement priorities, however, the federal government has traditionally relied on state and local authorizes to address marijuana activity through enforcement of their own narcotics laws. This guidance continues that policy”.
“For states such as Colorado and Washington that have enacted laws to authorize the production, distribution and possession of marijuana, the Department expects these states to establish strict regulatory schemes that protect the eight federal interests identified in the Department’s guidance. These schemes must be tough in practice, not just on paper, and include strong, state-based enforcement efforts, backed by adequate funding”.
“Based on assurances that those states will impose an appropriately strict regulatory system, the Department has informed the governors of both states that it is deferring its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time. But if any of the stated harms do materialize—either despite a strict regulatory scheme or because of the lack of one—federal prosecutors will act aggressively to bring individual prosecutions focused on federal enforcement priorities and the Department may challenge the regulatory scheme themselves in these states.”
In part, the ‘Memorandum for All United States Attorneys’, from James M. Cole, Deputy Attorney General, states: “Both the existence of a of a strong and and effective state regulatory system, and an operation’s compliance with such a system, may allay the threat that an operation’s size poses to federal law enforcement interests. Accordingly, in exercising prosecutorial discretion, prosecutors should not consider the size or commercial nature of a marijuana operation alone as a proxy for assessing whether whether marijuana trafficking implicates the Department’s enforcement priorities”.
This is, obviously, a great step toward reducing any federal involvement in the state rules, laws and regulations regarding medicinal and/or recreational cannabis.
In order to contact the United State Justice Department, either visit their website at this link or via United States Postal Service at: Correspondence to the Department, including Attorney General Eric Holder, may be sent to the U.S. Department of Justice at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001.
Phone numbers for the Department of Justice include the main switchboard at 202-514-2000 or the Office of the Attorney General Public Comment Line at 202-353-1555.
The Department of Justice also accepts e-mails, including those directed to the Attorney General at AskDOJ@usdoj.gov.
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