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News Link • Drugs and Medications

Federal ‘clarification’ on medical marijuana not a change in policy

• Stephen C. Webster via

A memo meant to clarify the Department of Justice (DoJ) position on how federal authorities should treat medical marijuana does not reflect any substantive change in policy from prior administrations, despite some reports to the contrary.

The "clarification" was apparently needed after a prior "clarification" in 2009 gave many the impression that the DoJ would not prosecute medical marijuana patients and dispensaries in states that had authorized such programs.

That document, called the "Ogden memo," did not actually provide for a change in policy, but instead directed U.S. attorneys to be cognizant of how they are using department resources, suggesting that prosecuting medical marijuana patients was not a good use of government funds.

In an addendum to the Ogden memo released this week by the DoJ, Deputy Attorney General James Cole reiterates that the Ogden memo was not meant to be a change in policy and that the department is "committed to the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in all States."

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