Calif. Medical Marijuana Users Get A Break From The Feds

October 19, 2009

Tom Fudge, KPBS Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Justice has put in writing a policy that allows medical marijuana users in California to be free from prosecution under certain circumstances. Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Department of Justice would respect state law that allows medical use of marijuana. Now, that approach has been made official in a justice department memorandum. The memo states the department will not devote resources to prosecute medical marijuana users who follow state law. Kris Hermes, with the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said the memo will make the policy more powerful.

"Having it in writing will hopefully discourage any rogue U.S. attorneys from indicting and prosecuting patients and providers unnecessarily," said Hermes.

San Diego's U.S. attorney, Karen Hewitt, said the memo provides important guidance. But it does not mean she has to prove a violation of state law before she can prosecute someone for illegal sale of marijuana.

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