Back in October, 2009, the United States Department of Justice issued the famous “Ogden Memo“, which gave some assurance to patients and providers in medical marijuana states that they would not be targeted by federal agents as long as they play by their state’s rules.
It reads, in part:
As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.
Earlier this week, Montana experienced a massive federal action involving twenty-six search warrants and at least ten dramatic, guns-drawn raids, coordinated with twenty-two state and local agencies. It is not yet clear whether all of the targeted businesses and individuals were in “clear and unambiguous compliance” with Montana laws, but the scope of the raids have left an estimated two thousand legal cardholders without a legal supply.
A February 1st, 2011 Justice Department memo, the “Haag memo” (PDF) may help explain the federal stance: that all marijuana is illegal, and a “core priority” of the department is to disrupt and prosecute marijuana commerce. It reads, in part:
…while the Department does not focus its limited resources on seriously ill individuals who use marijuana as part of a treatment regimen in compliance with state law as stated in the October 2009 Ogden Memorandum, we will enforce the Controlled Substances Act vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law. (emphasis added)
So, it sounds like seriously ill patients can use cannabis as medicine, but there will be no farms or stores that are exempt from federal attack, even if they’re working within a legal framework defined by the state. Leads me to wonder where these seriously ill folks are supposed to acquire their doctor recommended marijuana.
It gets a little worse though. The new memo also warns that it is illegal to “knowingly open, lease, rent, maintain, or use property” for a cannabis garden, and that “property owners, landlords, and financiers” could also be targeted, and their assets forfeited.
If you have feedback on these federal policies, call all these numbers and leave a message:
President Obama: 202-456-1111
Department of Justice: 202-353-1555
Congressman Rehberg: 1-888-232-2626
Senator Tester: (866) 554-4403
Senator Baucus: 800-332-6106