Medical marijuana has evolved into a state vs. federal law argument, with the notable example of a thriving medical marijuana industry in California.
Aside from California, 13 other states allow use of marijuana for medical reasons ranging from anxiety and insomnia to glaucoma and cancer- Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Colorado is also notable for the presence of dispensaries, and Rhode Island and New Mexico are working on licensing providers for medical marijuana.
Attorney General Eric Holder stated in March that feds should pursue medical marijuana users that violate federal laws, but a memo was expected to be sent to states advising that prosecuting medical marijuana cases is not a prudent usage of law enforcement manpower. While those who are operating within state guidelines can breathe a little more easily, feds acknowldge they will be just as aggressive in pursuing parties that use medical marijuana as a cover for other illegal activity.
Holder clarified the change of heart and policy in a statement:
“It 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, but we will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal,” Holder said in a statement accompanying the new guidelines. “This balanced policy formalizes a sensible approach that the Department has been following since January: effectively focus our resources on serious drug traffickers while taking into account state and local laws.”