In a move that will likely increase President Obama's favorable rating even here in conservative Orange County, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered federal drug agents to stop prosecuting cases involving medical marijuana users and providers who obey state laws legalizing the drug for medical purposes. In other words, if you've got a doctor's license and a state medical marijuana ID card, you're not going to get fucked with by the feds.
It's about time: California voters overwhelmingly voted to pass Proposition 215, legalizing marijuana for medical purposes back in November 1996, but both the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton and the Republican usurpation of George Bush refused to acknowledge the new law. (Local cops also refused to acknowledge it, especially here in OC, where the first patients and caregivers to try to establish cannabis collectives, as spelled out in Prop 215, were set up on bogus drug charges and thrown in prison.
Now, thanks to a series of court cases ordering police to return confiscated cannabis, as well as legislation ordering counties to create ID programs for legitimate pot smokers, local law enforcement authorities have no choice but to obey the law. And the feds? Well, let's just say Obama and his handpicked attorney general apparently believe the DEA has bigger fish to fry, according to an AP story today.
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"It will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana, but we will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement."
Although this is clearly the most sane executive order that has probably ever been issued in the never-ending, so-called war on drugs, a final disclaimer might be merited. The words "complying with state law' are pretty vague, thanks mainly to the fact that state law is pretty muddled about what's legal and what's not.
According to one cannabis co-op founder who asked not to be identified, state law is very clear about cooperatives having to grow their own plants. If you're based in OC, therefore, you can't import your seeds or buds from, say, Michoacan, Maui, or Humboldt. Also, state law only applies to dry marijuana, not hash cookies, marijuana shakes or concentrated THC oil, so theoretically, the feds could go on an anti-space cake rampage.
That said, however, today is definitely a huge victory for medical marijuana proponents, and is likely to lead to a huge increase in the number of hard working folks who suddenly realize they've got a serious case of tennis elbow and desperately need to get to a doctor.