Federal drug agents won't pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration.
Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be 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.
In states where medicial marijuana is legal, this change in federal policy amounts to full legalization.
Why? Because the set of conditions for which medical marijuana is alleged to be effective is huge, and the California experience shows that, once state law treats medical marijauna as legal, doctors prescribe freely. So, any user, medical or recreational, who wants marijuana in a state that has legalized medicial marijuana will have no legal difficulty obtaining it.
This is a huge victory for the marijuana legalization movement. The only question is how the Justice Department will enforce the new policy. They have stated:
The guidelines to be issued by the department do, however, make it clear that 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 officials said.
My bet, however, is that enforcement will target only those distributors or users who blatantly fail to cover themselves in a "medical" veneer.