June 2010: Federal Law Has NOT Changed

During the Democratic primary campaign, then-Senator Obama promised not to use federal funds to go after medical marijuana patients. Later, during the campaign for President, he reiterated this promise. Shortly after his inauguration, dispensaries were raided. Patients and advocates spoke up and let the White House know that voters expected the new President to keep his promises, and he sent his Attorney General and Press Secretary out with messages that raids were a thing of the past.

From February to October, ASA tracked dozens of raids that were executed exclusively by, or with the direct assistance of, the federal government. In October 2009, ASA met with officials from the Department of Justice, and 6 days later a memo was issued by the Deputy Attorney General to the U.S. Attorneys saying that prosecuting patients who are following their own state's medical marijuana laws is a waste of resources.

Since the issuance of this memo, however, laboratories that test medical marijuana in Colorado were raided by the DEA; several medical marijuana patients' homes were raided in Hawaii, several federally-assisted raids and enforcement actions have happened in California and Colorado. There are defendants in California and Colorado facing federal cultivation and possession charges. The federal laws have not changed--marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and no mention of "medical use" is allowed at trial. At least two of the raids we know about were the direct result of media attention. Stay safe and be aware that being the public face of medical marijuana may bring more than you bargained for.

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