Obama Administration Announces New Policy: Will Stop Arresting Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers in Compliance with Their State

Press Release October 18, 2009
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 646-335-5384 or Ethan Nadelmann at 646-335-2240

The Obama Administration is releasing new guidelines today directing federal drug agents not to arrest or harass medical marijuana patients and their sanctioned suppliers in states that have approved the medicine, as long as they are following their state’s medical marijuana law. The new guidelines will impact thirteen states that currently allow marijuana for medical purposes. The states that allow some use of marijuana for medical purposes are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The guidelines are consistent with previous comments made by Attorney General Eric Holder back in March, and campaign pledges made by President Obama in 2008.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance issued the following statement:

“It’s great to see the Obama administration making good on the promises that candidate Obama made last year. These new guidelines effectively open the door to sensible collaboration between state governments and medical marijuana providers in ensuring that patients have safe and reliable access to their medicine.

“What remains unclear is how the Justice Department will respond to rogue state attorneys, such as San Diego’s Bonnie Dumanis, who persist in undermining state medical marijuana laws in their local jurisdictions.

“Now is the right time for the Obama administration to move forward with federal legislation to end the irrational prohibition of medical marijuana under federal law.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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