Breaking News: President Obama Issues New Medical Marijuana Guidelines

In what can only be described as major departure in the so-called ‘war on drugs’, the Obama Administration is issuing a new three page memo this morning [Paul Armentano updates: You can now read the memorandum, signed by Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden, here. You can also share your thoughts with the White House on the administration’s decision via NORML’s Take Action Center here.] mapping out the federal government’s new guidelines for states that have laws protecting medical cannabis patients.
In February Attorney General Eric Holder indicated in a press conference that the Obama Administration–which favors physician-recommended access to medical cannabis–would abate from what had been an aggressive law enforcement (and propaganda) campaign against medical access to cannabis.
Today’s memo from the Department of Justice formalizes these changes and is a MAJOR victory for citizens who support cannabis law reform!

Report: New DOJ guidelines to back medical marijuana laws
By Bridget Johnson – 10/18/09 11:40 PM ET
The Hill
The Obama administration is set to make a sharp turn from the Bush administration when it comes to state laws regarding medical marijuana usage, the Associated Press reported late Sunday.
The guidelines to be issued to federal prosecutors Monday will suggest that it’s not a good use of time to go after users and distributors of medical marijuana in the 14 states that allow such usage, while encouraging that illegal pot operations involving violence, firearms and sale to minors still be pursued.
Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington currently have state laws allowing at least limited use of marijuana for medical purposes. The AP reported that federal prosecutors in these states, as well as top officials at the FBI and DEA, would being receiving the three-page Justice Department memo outlining the new policy.
Under the George W. Bush administration, medical marijuana dispensaries were still targeted for violating federal law despite state laws allowing pot for medical use. Attorney General Eric Holder signaled a shift in this policy in March, stating that federal enforcement would concentrate on illegal marijuana operations that use medical pot allowances as a cover.
The move doesn’t come as a surprise, as Obama the candidate had expressed support for states that allowed medical marijuana.
“I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users,” then-Sen. Barack Obama said on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.

0 thoughts

  1. People don’t forget that it wasn’t too long ago that he laughed us off when asked about MJ being the overwhelmingly #1 topic on his website. Now he thinks that this empty verbal promise will pacify the movement. I don’t think so buddy. This is just a crack in the damn. If we keep the pressure up & make sure our voices continue to be heard that damn is going to bust. I commend everyone at NORML. Thank you and keep it up.

  2. Hmm, it’s fall & suddenly we’re making progress again! It’s like we gain no ground in the summer but fall & spring kick ass for us…

  3. this is one step in the right way. i just wish he would make a law that would be for anybody that needed medical marijuana in any state. i live in a state that it is not legal. but i can go to my doctor each month & get oxytin 80mg 2 per day /lortab 10mg 2 per day /zanflex 4mg 4per day/ zanex 1mg 4 per day. after been taking med’s since 1994 the med’s have took a toll on my body. i have stop takeing them after about 2 week’s i was rushed to the er my bp was 265/215 that dr told me if i don’t take them i would have a stroke/heart acttack. but know years later the med’s are makeing me swell up bad my leg’s got so big they had blood comeing out. i still take the med’s & bp med’s to keep it under control but the swelling i have to try to not take them. but when i do i got to take them one at a time & wait 1 or 2 hour’s between instead of 1 of each every 6 hour’s that help’s a little but i know that i would be better off on medical marijuana.cause god made it & mad make’s what i take know & it is what killed my cousin almost 2 years ago. the places that make the med’s are run by man & they want you hooked on there med’s so they can make billon’s. i think it should be left up to the doctor & the person he is seeing!!!

  4. Does this really change things? Will I be able to grow plants in my back yard without worrying about going to jail? I am prop 215 compliant, I have a valid prescription from my doctor who states use as necessarry for severe chronic neuropathy pain.
    I need to grow about 100 plants every 10 weeks in order to make enough paste to rub on my legs and feet to eliviate the severe pain.
    I am not sure how many plants I can even grow so I hope this time it is more specificas to the amount I can grow!
    Timmothy Shamblin
    Advocate, Patient, Caregiver, master cloner!

  5. Remember that the war on marijuana began with the requirement of a nonexistent tax stamp. This is a long way from returning power to the people to decide how they wish to live but it is a small beginning. Large machines do not stop and turn on a dime.
    Be grateful for what does occur and keep asking for more.
    Peaceful solutions can be achieved only if all parties involved are willing.

  6. they do not have enough money to keep attacking americans for an herb anyway. the propaganda machine no longer works,IE gateway drug,save the children bull!
    americans are finally getting their heads out of their asses and demanding legalization,medical or recreational. Its about time. donate to NORML or MPP and make it 100percent legal!!

  7. “while encouraging that illegal pot operations involving violence, firearms and sale to minors still be pursued”.
    Take out of that quote ‘sale to minors’. They’re still playing the “protect our youth” song.

  8. If Obama and Eric Holder believe it is a waste of time and resources prosecuting medical cannabis patients and providers then why isn’t it a waste of time and resources to prosecute otherwise law abiding cannabis consumers?
    The truth of the matter is, it is a waste of time and resources to prosecute anyone anywhere for consumption or production of cannabis in any form! Legalize, regulate and tax, That is the correct way forward.

  9. And you idiots think this wouldve happened under a republican/conservative run administration? Get real.
    I’m definitely glad I voted Obama in office last year. This is the reason.

  10. i dont think its going to work, but hey, he can try.
    my opinion on ligilization is that there going to tax it wich may suck, plus what if the rules get so stricked that u cant get it for small poroblems ?

  11. Real change I see where you are getting at and I agree. All this medical guideline is going to do is now make it impossible for people who do not have medical cards to get medical cannabis. Norml how are you going to respond at me this time (if you don;t have a medical card you should not smoke marijuana?????? I thought norml was in favor of everyone having the free will to choose what they want to have in their life………All the government does is thinks of detours around things and finally ends up with a master plan, I still say they already have harsher penalties and longer sentences ready to go…. You will all witness the new era where if you do not have medical problem the judge is going to throw the book at you for smoking a damn plant…. You can hate what I have to say but it’s better than listening to lies…… The Obama administration has NEVER ONCE TOLD THE PUBLIC THEY ARE THINKING ABOUT DECRIMINALIZATION OR MAKING HEMP OR CANNABIS USE LEGAL………I SENSE A TRAP DOOR HERE AND IT IS FOR THE WORST….

  12. ‘give me liberty or give me death” is a reality to me a long time suffer of crohns disease, access of the madicinal has been deprived for far to long, find a way to tax it and control its purity and quality and win the “war on drugs” BC suffering missourian.
    Thank you Mr Obama, thank you jesus

  13. Presidential memos may not be laws, but Presidents don’t get to make laws – that’s under the purview of the Legislative Branch. The Department of Justice, the parent organization of the Drug Enforcement Administration, is part of the Executive Branch. It’s under the control of the Attorney General. The Attorney General’s boss is the President.
    Presidential memos may not be laws, but they control what the Attorney General may do. He, in turn, controls the Department of Justice and its DEA subsidiary.

  14. not really sure how it is all going to turn out but if the feds are laying off then the states probably already have protection for patients and caregivers under state law. just another step to end the prohibition that plagues us all.

  15. I also do not like the use of the word “suggestion.” I think, in the future, this might make more problems than it solves. Too much gray area in a law that so many people break… At least it’s a step. In what direction remains to be seen.

  16. They are basically reiterating the same statement Holder made earlier this year stating that if collectives follow state law they will not be prosecuted. However in Los Angeles, DA Steve Cooley has stated that nearly %100 if not all store-front collectives are illegal under state law. Based on his statements I dont see them relenting any time soon and feds will still be involved in the impending Los Angeles raids because of those statements. This may be a green light for law enforcement who believe that all store-front collectives are illegal

  17. Its bout time they should of legalized it during the 60s & left it alone.The gov. should look at amsterdam u never hear any crimes WHY because it,s elligale everybody is happy.The gov. should worry more bout the white dtuff & them perscription meds & leave us med. marijuana alone. Thats all i got to say & im stiking to it.

  18. Maybee a baby step is certainly better than no step at all. As far a s the president goes it really doesnt matter who we elected the country was in such bad shape,That nobody not even obama could repair everything that is fouled up in the short term they are in office. I still live in a state that has strict laws. so any step toward decriminalazation is better than none no matter how small..

  19. This is big news, lets not be so quick to disregard it as such, and immediately try to find or point out the negatives. It is different from what any of the other “puppets” have done in the past. Let’s face it they are what they are, but we have to be positive to any kind of change that supports our ultimate goal… the right to use and supply our medicine without fear of persecution. Any and every change in politics and/or laws is done with some sort of greed and personal interest for the final backers of our government, and for that reason I am not an Obama supporter or any other politician’s supporter for that matter. But a move or statement of any kind from the federal government (especially the President of our country) that supports us and our cause, needs to be appreciated regardless how minimal it may be in the grand scheme of things. Peace love and THC

  20. Thank you so much Norml for all the positive things you are trying to do to free the Cannabis plant. On the subject of medical cannabis use, I believe Cannabis is medicine, whether you are “sick” or not.
    As far as Obaaaaaaaaaaaama saying something…well I believe it’s just the sheeple…so many unfortunately, who are listening…believing… anymore. Show me something Barry…fuck your words…what have you done that you said you were going to do? Oooops….for a second I forgot that Barry is nothing more than a puppet. So far, however, I think he is doing a great job…for his MASTERS!!! If we want to see the protection of medical cannabis, Cannabis needs to be rescheduled from a scheduled 1 drug to a…….well I guess I’m supposed to say schedule 2 drug, but my true feeling is that Cannabis is not a drug at all. So what a waste of time…another government distraction dealing with this lie, when really, “we the people,” need to be focusing all our energy on taking down the toxic currency, along with all those fraudsters it empowers to enslave and control “we the people”. That “toxic currency”…our federal reserve notes, are the life, the blood, the power our bankster-gangster MASTERS of the all controlling central bank needs. This is what seems to fuel our crminal congress also.

  21. I think that this is a major step forward for the mmj community! This will allow people to feel safer when accessing their medication, and I believe it it the start of inter-state approval of medical marijuana registrations.
    I feel that companies like COLORADOGREENPAGES.NET are the right direction for medical marijuana directories. the information is all free, and all of their advertising is completely donation based!
    Since hearing about this latest advancement, they now own: is the only one active at the moment, but stay tuned, this is how we should do our marketing… INDUSTRY SPECIFIC.
    This medical marijuana directory is totally free to use, all advertising is donation based, and businesses can have a completely free listing too.

  22. its a small victory in the right direction… now if all states just jump on the band wagon.

  23. read the memorandum carefully.
    the memo clearly asserts that while they suggest going after more reasonable targets, there is no requirement that the DEA and federal authorities stop prosecuting MM patients/dispensaries even if they are “in clear and unambiguous” practice of state law. they recommended deprioritizing such actions, except towards the end where it is clearly stated that if it serves a federal interest to do so, go ahead and prosecute anybody following state law. read CAREFULLY. this is a publicity stunt for gainly public popularity. it is BY NO MEANS A VICTORY.

  24. I have been liveing in pain for around 5 years. The problem with the people fighting this law for medical marijuna has no ideal what it feels like to like to go through life haveing pain in everything you do. If I could give them one day of liveing with my degenerative aurthuritus it would change 75% or more of there mindes. When takeing the lid off a jar makes you hurt so bad you want to cry and there is a way to help it by useing medical marijuana how dare they tell me i can’t do it. In the bible it says I (God) give to you all seed bareing plants who are they to tell me I can’t use what god gave me. If you go out in your yard and cut your grass and roll it up to smoke its not agianst the law. If you grow a plant in your house its not agianst the law. But marijuana plants are illegal. this makes no since to me at all. If I had one wish I would wish all of the people agianst medical marijuana to feel the pain I feel. When the simple things of everyday life makes you hurt so bad you cry its time that people in this country stand up to the goverment and demand the rights garenteed to us in the constitution of the United States. It seems to me we loose more of our rights every day. I would like for everyone to write or call and voice your openions and do what ever it takes to pass the law to legalize medical marijuana. There are alot of people in this world that live in pain and deserve the right to not live in the pain that they do.

  25. I’d like to think this memo is a big deal, but unfortunately nothing in it will substantively deter Steve Cooley from carrying out his raids in L.A., since he will just claim that he is dealing with “non-medical” abuse of the State law.

  26. I agree with Don I don’t think this is a step forward at all, it’s just another empty bs politician promise. A suggestion doesn’t mean anything, that’s not even saying that they are going to do it. If I suggest you run across the freeway at rush hour would you do it? I didn’t think so. Who the heck do they think they are trying to quell?

  27. What the Obama admin is claiming they are going to do is a positive step. As many mentioned above, Obama is a puppet, but what’s being said really can be taken advantage of, if we the people choose to take action… because now is the time.
    As Don noted above, House Bill 2835 is the first step to lock this into place. From there, more states that havent progressed/evolved to allowing medicinal cannabis I think will be willing to change their stance. With time, more and more states will ease into allowing medicinal cannabis. And with a bit more time after that, the step towards full decriminalization could take place… and finally the prohibition against one of natures greatest gifts will be over.
    This is the time to really try and change things. I think our country is ready and can accept that all the stigma’s and lies about cannabis are just that, lies.

  28. #4 Don
    You are dead on and I do not trust them from past precedents and prior experiences, because what they say and what they do are two different things.
    Let’s see if they keep thier words on those papers. Let’s just see. These words mean nothing if they use new tactics in thier worthless War on Drugs.
    We need protection wriiten in Law.
    “”The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.” ” Thomas Jefferson

  29. I think any step forward is a step in the right direction. We have to understand they are scared they have been spouting the “reefer madness” nonsense for so long a lot of them actually believe it. We need to just pray for a softening of their heart and a continuing forward momentum in our cause and then one day we can all sit back and blow a big smoke cloud of relief.
    No pain, all smiles and love

  30. I agree with previous posters, when it comes down to it this doesn’t mean jack shit.
    ” This guidance regarding resource allocation does not ‘legalize’ marijuana or provide a legal defense to a violation of federal law, nor is it intended to create any privileges, benefits, or rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any individual, party or witness in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter. Nor does clear and unambiguous compliance with state law or the absence of one or all of the above factors create a legal defense to a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. Rather, this memorandum is intended solely as a guide to the exercise of investigative and prosecutorial discretion.”
    Until Congress passes a LAW which protects medical users (and preferably, ALL users because ALL use can be medicinal), then I still hold the stance that rhetoric doesn’t mean anything. Obama is not our savior, and although he is a rational pragmatist, he is not acting as one instead he is acting rather irrationally and taking the political high-ground. Keep this issue in the limelight though. We should keep the words “Cannabis” and “marijuana” on the lips of those who are supposed to represent our best interests so that when the time comes that Obama feels he can act on his own accord rather than the accord of the Big Business that funded his election, we can be assured of a swift and effortless victory. All these recent media stories are positive; women coming “out of the closet”, potential revenues from taxing cannabis, legalizing to cripple cartel profits… keep the dialog going America. Talk to your friends about it, your neighbors, your familiy. One of the biggest hurdles in getting it legalized is helping normal folks realize WHY it would benefit them for it to be legal- what stakes to they have in it? Their communities would be safer (less drug war related violence), less of their tax dollars would be wasted prosecuting a victimless crime, any family members or friends who choose to use the SAFER recreational drug could do so without fear of arrest and buy and use in a safe environment; the benefits of legalization to society AS A WHOLE, not just to users, are numerous and we need to help EVERYONE realize that. Good luck America, and be safe.

    “Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug,”
    I think the DOJ and Congress needs to re-read the scientific studies and understand that the general conses Marijuana is marginally dangerous like all substances including water are dangerous and must be consumed in moderation. In addition congress may have ‘determined’ yet they did not perform nor do I highly believe that 99% of statesmen have read a reliable and independent report retorting the Federal Governments ideology why Marijuana should be illegal. To most this may seem like a move in the right direction that is if you only read and listen to the reports of the mainstream media, after reading the actual memo I feel differently. There is nothing in this memo that actually prevents or even suggests that the DEA and FBI stop the raids of compliant dispensaries. Simply put all dispensaries are making money and must keep it somewhere and that could be considered ‘money laundering’ even the pretext that they are violating federal law is still applicable in the event of continued oppression of patients and manufacturers. I wont sleep well until Marijuana is changed in it’s class according to the Controlled Substances Act. We’ll keep pushing the ball, we’ll sleep peacefully once it destroys the stigma established 70+ years ago.

  32. Monday, Oct 19, 2009 3:23pm
    LA’s top prosecutor vows to target pot shops
    3 hours ago
    Just hours after the new memo from the Obama Administration was released telling DEA agents to back off, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley announced his plans to go ahead with a threat he made last week to close all the pot shops in California. If you needed proof these fanatics will never stop, in spite of overwhelming voter support for the new changes, and now support from Washington, then this is it. These die-hards see the end of an era when law enforcement budgets depend in large part on pot arrests. It is obvious they won’t go down without a fight. The announcement today from Washington is a major victory but the battle is certainly not over. What America needs is total legalization, made into law and passed by the voters, not just a memo. Otherwise, the next 20 million people to be railroaded into an unjust legal system will continue to pay for police “services” with the same old tired dogma of ruined lives.

  33. So now we wait and see if cops in California actually follow the law. From their last statements it seemed they were on some personal crusade and disregarded what the people actually voted for.
    This is a step in the right direction but a long way to go.
    Glad Medical Users can at least have some peace for the time being.

  34. Hopefully Obama’s memo will be made public to everyone in order clarify and avoid any confusion.
    Perhaps the DA’s or AG should show us how to run these collectives and dispensaries in order to avoid violating the state laws.
    Seems like whenever Obama makes a statement about medical marijuana, there’s always a raid 2 weeks later…..It’s like the DA’s are intentionally trying to subvert the President’s direct orders…..
    Obama needs to make some heads roll if he ever wants his personnel to follow his orders……make an example of these DA’s to show they are not above the law!!!
    [Paul Armentan o responds: The memo is publicly available here:

  35. Sounds like table scraps to me. Or like when i cheap out and buy my daughters the 99 cent toys till i can get better ones on payday. Question is: will we get our good toys on payday?

  36. w4c was i the only one who fell for this at and was not given a response that said any thing other than i was taken

    “How soon we forget”…the American Policy, and the Data Quality Act. I suggest, we should have been asking ourselves all along, “WHAT ARE WE MISSING HERE?” Both the American Policy, and the Data Quality Act come with “STAND DOWN ORDERS.” In plain and simple vernacular “KNOCK IT OFF.”
    The American Policy says: “Feds stay out of sovereign states with medical use rights…our interests do not conflict.” The American Policy places emphasis on science over political ideology.
    The Data Quality Act says: “Any and all federal agencies or departments will not disseminate false or misleading information to the public. If they do…they must immedeiately correct that bum info.”
    These two policies alone, are enough to drill holes in the prohibitionist’s wooden heads, to reach the saw dust inside. We should…without question or hesitation…use these two policies as a strong foundation for our opposition and retaliation against “Qualified Immunity as an injustice”…and
    …”a corrupt government and its system…”TOP TO BOTTOM” [R.O.E. says].
    When…We the People…cannot use “LAW” to protect ourselves, and our Constitutional rights against domestic aggression, and abusive governmental authority
    …we are left with “NO ALTERNATIVE” but to use defense under the Constitution. We should be bringing aggressive mandates and law suits against any and all “VIOLATORS OF LAW”…and…”EMPHATICALLY”…no one is above the law…no one…especially law enforcement itself, who have applied their idea of sinuous rogue justice over rule of law.
    In the reality of it all…we are having great difficulty identifying “the enemy of the people.” Prohibitionists believe we are the enemy of the people, and We the People see prohibitionists as the enemy. You have to ask…”WHAT’S THE PERCENTAGES?”
    The only problem with this is…They still disregard the Data Quality Act, to say Cannabis is a dangerous drug.

  38. I love how we have the most freindly president to marijuana since the 1930s and everyones denouncing him it shows two things. 1. How people love to blame a president whos been in office for less then a year for all of the failings in the world. I guess it comes with the job. 2. The No compromise attitude of marijuana activists, which I admire. I would simply ask that people give the guy credit for this but keep up the fight for total legalization in full. Oh and for anyone whos passed a government class the congress writes the laws not the president. We don’t have a monarchy. Even if Ron Paul was elected (who I could’nt vote for because getting the government completly out of economics = corporate serfdom) or some other libertarian do you really think he/she could just magically legalize it for everyone? We have a system for making laws not a king. That said I would hope this kind of action would be repeated should say California/Massachusetts legalize. Lets think rationally before posting such things eh? Also to the first poster I don’t think this helps his approvals and they probably don’t need help all of the polls have him around 56% right now from the last few monthes.

  39. By any means…don’t think that California is a Garden of Eden with all the pleasures and rights of the garden. By de facto actions, the California Police Chiefs Assoc. is arresting 11362.5 dispensaries for Bebofamofity and attempt to creep. It may soon come! that we will be arresting each other, and we will learn the true meaning of “Citizen’s Arrest.” It may soon come to “Anarchy” in the fullest meaning of the word, including Marshal Law, and the suspension of our civil rights. These tyrranical rouge cops do not honor our civil rights anyway. So!…are we there yet?
    We are today…better than 85% in favor of legalizing medicinal cannabis. Genesists have spoken with a loud and clear voice. In essence, we have grounded the scales. If our elected representatives do not respond to this mandate…by voting the will of the people…
    the people will put them in the corner, and make them watch the crack for eternity, as they think about their disobedience, and poor judgment.
    But…I will not fire agaisnt my fellow American. I will not take his or her life. Rather…”I WILL DIE STANDING ON MY FEET…PROTECTING HIS OR HER RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS…RATHER THAN LIVE ON MY KNEES.” I will hold my fellow Genesist’s hand in hell. I swore an oath of allegiance to protect my country against all enemies, foreign, and “DOMESTIC.” My hand is still raised, and the arm with which I raised my hand, has not withered. I served my country honorably then, and I will serve it today, and all the days to come.

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