Federal: Third Time the Charm Cole Memo Report
| Hunter Holliman
On August 29, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder and the DOJ announced a shift in policy regarding federal enforcement of state-sponsored marijuana programs. A memo was also issued by Deputy AG James Cole to US Attorneys that explained the new "trust but verify" approach as well as instituting new guidelines for prosecution.
This is great news for our community, but it is a shift in policy not a change in law which means cannabis is still illegal at the federal level in the US. Help us turn this shift in policy into actual law by reaching out to your Congressperson to support legislation like HR 689.
As of now, the federal government will permit states to regulate their own cannabis programs without interference so long as state law complies with the new DOJ guidelines. However, these guidelines are just recommendations to be taken into consideration by federal prosecutors and can be deviated from. To help answer questions about what this policy shift means and how the medical cannabis community should move forward, ASA has published our analysis as a report.
The report, "Third Time the Charm? State Laws on Medical Cannabis Distribution and Department of Justice Guidance on Enforcement," shows that states have already enacted regulations that meet federal concerns, and some would have stronger regulations if it were not for federal threats that disrupted the legislative process. The report concludes with recommendations for how federal and state legislators can protect patients and harmonize state and federal policies.