The Obama administration, consistent with prior campaign pledges has directed federal law enforcement officials and the Justice Department to, in effect, stand down by not arresting or prosecuting medical marijuana patients nor their suppliers, so long as marijuana patients and suppliers are in clear compliance with their own state’s medical marijuana laws.
Note however that this does not alter existing federal law, which still classifies non-medical use of marijuana as a schedule-one controlled substance. Under federal law, by definition, schedule-one drugs are considered to be both highly addictive and lack serious medical value. Given the federal governments previous position on medical marijuana, it is easy to understand why medical doctors have been reluctant to recommend medical cannabis to patients. The states however tell a different story.
As of October 2009, there are 14 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Main Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and Washington state) that have effectively legalized the medicinal use of marijuana and currently provide for the safe access and sale of medical marijuana to qualified and medically documented patients.
Physicians for years have been recommending the use of marijuana to treat illnesses and conditions, such as chronic pain, arthritis, anorexia, migraines, leukemia, glaucoma, seizures, nausea and certain categories of cancer.
It may surprise you to learn that the medicinal use of marijuana is neither a new nor a novel phenomenon in our country. In fact, prior to 1937, there were approximately 27 different types of prescribed medicines that contained THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Established pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly and Squibb had developed many of these THC-based medicines with relatively high degrees of success. However, the federal government by enacting the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 caused the strict prohibition of marijuana to be used as a lawful medication. It has been illegal ever since.
Those that grow and supply marijuana illegally (not for medical use) are urged not interpret the new shift in marijuana drug policy as a de facto green light to grow and distribute marijuana with impunity. To the contrary, suppliers and growers of non-medical marijuana are still the subject of intense law enforcement scrutiny. Most states still carry harsh penalties. For example, even under current federal law, a conviction involving the cultivation of one hundred plants can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of five-years. Drug dealing is still very much illegal.
State courts are already conforming to the new federal medical marijuana policy directive. On the same day the federal government announced its new medical marijuana policy, a Los Angeles Superior court ruled that recent state enforcement actions to shut down hundreds of California dispensaries and clinics was illegal. For more information on medical marijuana laws, dispensaries, clinics, recommending physicians, permissive states, medical marijuana identification cards, medical marijuana defense lawyers, go to GotTrouble.com