WASHINGTON, D.C. – Feds to Stop Prosecuting Medical Marijuana Users

Pot-smoking patients and their sanctioned suppliers should not be targeted for Federal Prosecution in states that allow medical marijuana, prosecutors were told Monday in a new policy memo issued by the Justice Department. For the complete story, check out the Associated Press article in today’s St. Pete Times.

Under the policy spelled out in a three-page legal memo, Federal prosecutors are being 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 issued by the department do, however, make it clear that Federal 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 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.

“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,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

By the government’s count, 14 states allow some use of marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Some medical marijuana advocates say Maryland shouldn’t be included in that group, because the law there only allows for reduced penalties for medical marijuana usage.

Florida, however, does not permit the medical use of marijuana.

California stands out among those for the widespread presence of dispensaries – businesses that sell marijuana and even advertise their services. Colorado also has several dispensaries, and Rhode Island and New Mexico are in the process of licensing providers, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a group that promotes the decriminalization of marijuana use.

FILE - In this May 20, 2009 file photo, one-eighth-ounce bags of Blue Dream medical marijuana are shown at The Green Door dispensary in San Francisco. The Obama administration will not seek to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws, under new policy guidelines to be sent to federal prosecutors Monday Oct. 19, 2009.  (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

FILE – In this May 20, 2009 file photo, one-eighth-ounce bags of Blue Dream medical marijuana are shown at The Green Door dispensary in San Francisco. The Obama administration will not seek to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws, under new policy guidelines to be sent to federal prosecutors Monday Oct. 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Advocates say marijuana is effective in treating chronic pain and nausea, among other ailments.

If you or a family member has been arrested for a Possession of Marijuana or Trafficking in Marijuana charge (or any other drug-related offense), former prosecutor Nicholas J. Dorsten of the Clearwater-based Blake & Dorsten, P.A. is now on your side.

If you are currently facing a “minimum/mandatory” prison sentence and/or require an experienced and aggressive defense, the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. will be there for you. 365/24/7.

To speak directly with criminal and drug defense attorney Nicholas J. Dorsten, please call 727.286.6141 or email us at: info@blakedorstenlaw.com

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