DOJ: State Workers Can Legally Run Med Marijuana Programs


Graphic: CDS
Hey, eagle dude, is that a bud you’re holding?

​The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday filed a legal brief indicating the federal government would not prosecute state employees for implementing state medical marijuana programs, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

The DOJ brief asks that a lawsuit filed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, be thrown out, reports Eric W. Dolan at The Raw Story.

Brewer’s claims had no merit, according to the Department of Justice, which noted that her lawsuit failed to provide credible evidence that state employees were under threat of imminent federal prosecution.

The governors of Arizona, Rhode Island and Washington have all refused to implement medical marijuana laws because they said they feared criminal prosecution of state employees by federal U.S. attorneys.
The DOJ announcement is particularly ironic and poignant, since it completely removes the one objection Washington Governor Christine Gregoire cited when she vetoed almost all of SB 5073, which would have explicitly legalized medical marijuana dispensaries in that state.

Washington’s thousands of medical marijuana patients came within one signature — Gregoire’s — of finally having safe access and arrest protection, 13 long years after voters approved a measure legalizing medicinal cannabis in the state. But hen-hearted Gregoire just couldn’t seem to 
muster up the leadership necessary to sign the damn thing.

Photo: The Ham Report
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer refused to defend her state’s medical marijuana law, approved by the state’s voters. Instead she asked the feds for instructions on how to run her own state. Nice “leadership” there, Jan.

​Governor Brewer of Arizona was similarly dismissive of voters’ wishes. “The State of Arizona has worked to follow the wishes of the voters,” Brewer disingenuously claimed, even as she put the state’s medical marijuana program on hold and filed a lawsuit against the federal government seeking to force the issue and permanently bar its implementation.
Brewer was seeking a ruling that the Arizona law is preempted by federal drug laws, and should be struck down because it is in conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.
“By taking the highly unusual step of challenging her own state’s law, Gov. Brewer is undermining the will of Arizona voters and unconscionably seeking to prevent thousands of sick Arizonans from being able to access important medicine,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona.
“People should have the freedom to choose the medicine their doctors believe is most effective for them,” Meetze said.
Attorney Lisa Hauser, who authored Arizona’s medical marijuana law, agreed with the ACLU, saying Brewer’s suite was intended to strike down the new law.
Proposition 203, which allows patients in Arizona to use cannabis with a doctor’s authorization, was passed by a majority of the state’s voters in 2010.
“But I won’t stand aside while state employees and average Arizonans acting in good faith are unwittingly put at risk,” Brewer said. “In light of the explicit warnings on this issue offered by Arizona’s U.S. Attorneys, as well as many other federal prosecutors, clarity and judicial direction are in order.”
Ah, yes, the threatening letters from U.S. Attorneys. Those charming little missives were received by officials in almost every medical marijuana state over the past few months, in a seeming 180-degree turn in the Obama Administration’s policy of noninterference with state laws on medicinal cannabis.
Some of the letters, including those from both U.S. Attorneys in the state of Washington, in fact did explicitly threaten the arrest and prosecution of state employees for implementing the state’s medical marijuana dispensary program. The threats did ring somewhat hollow, though, since that has never happened in any medical marijuana state in the 15 years since California became the first U.S. state to legalize medicinal cannabis.