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. small weak step in the right direction. I still say that stoners across the country have a huge voice that we need to exercise and the time is falling-off-the-vine ripe for us to push this issue over the top.
    We can do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. One small step for Washington, one giant leap for it’s citizens. Good job and props to the Obama Administration.

  3. This is a step in the right direction. A few years ago there was no memo, there was no “talk”, there was very little. Let be happy with the steps that we have made and keep on the fight until we win!

  4. Wha Hoo! I’ll take what I can get! If that means no Fed prosecutions for 30 seconds or 30 months, I’m all for it! “Hey!… don’t Borgart that doobie!”

  5. Its great that our country finally starting to c the good in our flower, and doing something about it. this would not be possible without norml and groups alike. Thanks a lot, keep on fighting.

  6. The evidence of success in enabling patients to access medical marijuana will be when law enforcement officials aren’t harassing those with chronic illness because of inconsistency of law interpretation or conflicting state and federal laws. This may take some time even if the changes are otherwise enacted.

  7. I’m surprised how cynical everyone is, but that’s not important. It’s a small step, and that’s how these things go.
    What’s more important is for everyone to write to their senators and congressmen, their assembly and governor, and push for federal decriminalization and state-level tax/regulation. The most effective way to do this is to type a formal, business style letter (triple checked to make sure the grammar and spelling is right), sign it, and mail it in. (This shows a seriousness that email doesn’t convey.)
    The bigger changes we all want come from the congress and the states. We need to do the hard work of contacting them ourselves.
    (I did it last week – it took me 20 minutes.)

  8. This is wonderful. Recall the Berlin wall fell and the Eastern Bloc shortly thereafter.
    Marijuana will go “state’s rights”, and then pothibition is doomed. Once legal sale is in one place, then it will spread…

  9. Oh please! Give Obama a chance. he has more on his plate (like public health care) than he can handle. He has to “placate” the Republicans and frankly, I think this is a bold gesture. One day at a time please… Medical marijuana is important to so many, and one day in the near future I believe it will be widely available for MEDICAL use.

  10. I would like to know where in the Memo it said that its the law that Law enforcement is forbidden to prosecute legal marijuana patients or caregivers in said states. I agree with Don,without a Law ,we are screwed ,it might sound good,but it really don’t mean a thing,nothing but talk,which is all they do

  11. isnt that what he said a while back? has anything changed? At least I saw it on MSMBC.
    why dont you just make it a simple LAW Obama? use your super powers and stick it in your healthcare bill!!

  12. You guys DO realize that this is the BIGGEST STEP ANY PRESIDENT HAS EVER TAKEN in support of Marijuana legalization, right? You negative nancys might not like Obama for other reasons, but you can’t deny the fact that this would NEVER EVER happen under a Republican President.
    It’s all about degrees. You’re not going to get a law passed overnight to legalize weed for everyone. But this is the first step towards a situation similar to Europe where it is still illegal, but tolerated and never prosecuted. Give Obama credit where it’s due–he had the justice department do this, no other president even did that much.

  13. I think it’s a step in the right direction. Marijuana is merely a plant with medicinal uses and if chosen to be used recreationally so be it. In a world where alcohol and tobacco are used daily and considered to be acceptable, it is nothing short of hypocritical to ban the use of pot. Wake up puppets. The pharmaceuticals don’t want to see something they can’t control and make money off of being used by the masses. This is about money and nothing more. If anyone tells you different they’ve been brainwashed. Marijuana isn’t dangerous. Oxy’s, Vicodin, Percs are making the pharmaceuticals richer everyday. They’re behind this machine that keeps pot illegal. Wake up!!

  14. Wow I’m very glad to see people commenting that this does not paint to much of a better picture for Obama. It is obvious that Obama is not the real change we wanted yet a little sprinkles of change scattered sparsely. If you want real cannabis reform and true constitutional freedom. Vote Ron Paul.

  15. This is a nice thing but come on really? Do you all think these goons entenched in prohibition wont just find “reasons” to bust people. This isnt a law…its a suggestion. Come on President Obama…Grow some stones, end prohibition. Thats the only way to end this reefer madness crap for the 30’s.

  16. legalize now and let’s cut the crap!! we don’t care if you use it for medical reasons or just to get high and listen to the grateful dead!! does the broke government want to cut the trillion dollar defecit or not? let the people be free…

  17. I too think it is a step in the right direction and I applaud it but take a look at this excerpt from the memo…
    Of course, no State can authorize violations of federal law, and the list of factors above is not intended to describe exhaustively when a federal prosecution may be warranted. Accordingly, in prosecutions under the Controlled Substances Act, federal prosecutors are not expected to charge, prove, or otherwise establish any state law violations. Indeed, this memorandum does not alter in any way the Department’s authority to enforce federal law, including laws prohibiting the manufacture, production, distribution, possession, or use of marijuana on federal property.
    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.
    Get the picture?

  18. I wonder if obama is slowly tearing down the drug war bit by bit. It seems he is under so much fire for his health care business that he cant risk getting openly flanked by NORML and MPP (we are so close!) and now it appears as tho he is bringing not only guidelines to a more tolerant state, but soon approval.
    You cant stop a raging bull on the spot but you can let it get tired and slow, then maybe it will calm down.
    I find the day it is accepted for recreational use it will be like midieval people not having to fear being burned by Inquisitors anymore.

  19. I applaud and appreciate any step in this direction, and the more of this that hits the mainstream media airwaves the more socially acceptable our cause becomes. Don’t underestimate the power of television to further our view; the more people hear the easier for them to accept us.

  20. Hey wait a minute, if the Justice Department is not going to prosecute medical marijuana in 14 states, why not all 50?

  21. Unless this is a Federal Law the U.S. Veterans will be denied any kind of pain medication at Veterans Hospitals (in any state) when the V.A. doctors make you take a urine test prior to filling your prescriptions and find marijuana in your urine. They stop all treatment. They make you sign a document saying if you have ANY medication in your system (over the counter, or beer) all treatment will stop.
    It is a violation of your Right to Privocy when the military tells before going into the military you will have free V.A. Hospital care for the rest of your life after you are discharged from the military.
    Then when you need V.A. medical assistance and are denied medical attention because they find marijuana in your blood, hair or urine, you feel like you have been lied to by our government.
    Put it in a national law that includes doctors from the Veterans Hospitals. Our veterans are always the ones getting the short end of the stick.
    Put it into LAW. Put it on the books not on the nightly news. George Arizona

  22. So if the US Government is now actually officially recognizing Medical benefits to Cannabis, why not remove it’s Schedule 1 status?
    While I’m happy with today’s announcement, actually changing the CSA shows real change.

  23. I was listening to the Mississippi, state wide, right wing talk radio station and the host was asking about medical marijuana in MS. Everyone who called in, me included, except for one guy was in favor of it. In MISSISSIPPI! The times they are a changing.

  24. I can’t believe how negative some of the comments are on this story. Can people be so naive to think that President Obama can just come out and outright legalize it? President Obama has enough to deal with the economy; not to mention American’s first African American president.
    Obama has done more for reform then any other President in recent history with this release. The Whitehouse supports medical marijuana now! The cannabusiness can flourish in legal states as long as they are legitimate. This is huge! How would you like to work in a legal cannabusiness? There’s going to be jobs!
    See it or not, President Obama is on a path of legalization. He most do it in a way that does not create a major uproar from conservatives. Also, like it or not, the economy is dependent on keeping the law enforcement, lawyers, judges, prisons etc., going.
    President Obama at this point, is certainly a friend to medical marijuana. The cannabusiness growth and economic benefit has the potential to be a major stimulus for states. And we know the Whitehouse will not support reckless raids. This is a big YES to the legal cannabis industry!
    Once free states show a major economy builder with medical marijuana, this is sure to win more states over. Plus the marijuana patient is the new discriminated minority. More and more states will want to be compassionate.
    I feel sorry for the driest states in the future. I’m sure these places will not be that popular to live or vacation. Good luck!
    But for now rejoice!

  25. This is just a small hurdle, we need to keep the pressure on and turn up the heat…Legalize it Nation-Wide, Period!!!!

  26. 1) Could be saying that he is not giving up on us and believes in the cause? 🙂
    2) Could be saying that they know that we know the truth and they do to but at the moment nothing else can be worked out? 🙁
    3) Or, it’s a heads up to all MJ consumers to watch out cause he doesn’t know what the end result will be in coming out with this memo? :0
    He’s putting it out there and we should be thankful for that. I think he’s trying to do the right things but he has so many people pushing and pulling at him. If anything I think he deserves more respect for being our president. If you disagree with me that’s fine I respect everyone’s opinion. 70+ years of prohibition is not just something you change. Even though it does seem like our world speeds up daily. So I wouldn’t be surprised if it was to happen sooner than expected. To the person who said he has more important things to focus on. I agree. So once the truth is out about MJ their should be no doubt by anyone that it should be legal and it’s value as a commodity could be fruitful. “Life is simple. You make choices and you don’t look back. Their will be plenty of others that will do that for you.” Err on the side of caution until more is known.

  27. Here something to think about while the government wall of lies comes falling down just like the Berlin Wall, it is coming down and the truth is starting shine through all that bullshit they laid down in that constructive fraud.
    Our Federal & State Governments and their courts have repeatedly stated that We the People DO NOT have a Secured Constitutional Right to use and have in our personal procession any form of the Cannabis / Hemp plant. In the beginning of the Constructive Fraud the government abrogated the people inalienable right to this plant by it’s restrictive legislative acts, that this inalienable right is derived from the our creator which is indeed covered in the bill of rights. The act of abrogation by congress demonstrate that a constitutional rights did exist and that they were abrogated by an unlawful act of congress. That the citizen population has a legal valid claim to this inalienable right which has existence since the first civilization sprang forth some 3000 years ago. That the denial of said inalienable rights and the efforts put forth by law enforcement to unlawfully deny said inalienable right has and is still causing great harm and disharmony with in our Nation. That the very act of prohibition of cannabis has decreased the safety of our Nation which violates the will of the people to be secured in their homes. That this act of prohibition of cannabis has decreased the health of the American people and has unlawfully restricted their doctors to use cannabis as a traditional medicine. It has interfered with the exploring the cannabis plant’s potential as a medicine. That this act of prohibition of cannabis has unnecessarily endangers the welfare of people of this Nation again violating the people’s secure right to be secured in their own homes. That these principals of National Safety of the American People, that the Good Health of the American People, and that General Welfare of the American People is paramount are indeed covered by Constitutional Provision known as the bill of rights. That these legislative acts against the use of Cannabis by the American People are in violation because they violate this Nation’s fundamental principals guarding our Liberties.
    Although common defense is one of the purposes of the federal constitution, it was not formed to merely guard the states against danger from foreign nations, but mainly to secure both union and harmony at home and safety against injustice. 16 Am. 2d, Constitutional Law, Section 11.
    The constitutional provisions and amendments to the constitution relate to the fundamental law and certain FIXED Principals upon which governments are founded. Constitution are commonly called the organic law of the state. State Ex Rel Halliburton v. Roach, 230 N0. 408; 130n SW 689.
    Our inalienable rights are fixed principals, part of the fundamental aspects of law, the foundation of our republic. The first ten amendments, our bill of rights is not open for the government to negociate with, they are fixed, in place and binding upon the government. They know it, they are just hoping to keep the citizen population in the dark, time for us to turn the light on their constructive fraud and address it openly with transparency so all can see for themselves.
    The time is Now! Time to think for ourselves and do what is good for our country. It is time to protect the liberties of the people by acting through the instrument of the Constitution and our Courts, perhaps one day the legislature will comprehended the will of the people and respect it.

  28. Look at this as a toe testing the water.If no large pushback developes,and there is some success in New Hampshire,Oct 28, or Maine,Nov.3,Look for the admin. to take another step.

  29. The way to turn up the presure is never make a plea deal if caught, seek out a jury of your peers. Teach the public about having the power to nullify the law. Plant your seeds in the face of our enemy, plant those seeds wherever the grass goes uncut, foreclosures, city planters, divided highways, and on main street USA. Send a clear non-violent measage to our wayward employees that we simply will not take anymore of their foolish behavior. Void out their law on cannabis and what will they have? How can they enforce laws jury refuse to convict and remember conviction by a jury of your peers can not be abrogated by any means.
    The time is now, push we must, refuse to back off, our liberties is on the line. All they have, all they have ever had is lies. We now have the evidence to this unlawful act of our wayward government.

  30. How could you NOT VOTE for Barack Obama in 2012? Obviously he can’t legalize weed in his first year of his first term. Give the guy a break, and at least a chance to come through on his word. I am a New York Sports fan so I say to you all what we all say about our hopes for our teams: YA GOTTA BELIEVE!!
    Legalize it. It’s a matter of compassion.

  31. I live in the most Red State in the US: Louisiana. Every night I leave my house to go to work I see at least 2-3 Police and Federal Vehicles pulling cars over to search them. Nowadays they won’t even let you pull over … they just stop you in the middle of the road (Not Joking). These actions aren’t from Obama, in fact I am doubtful he is even fully aware of all the consequences we deal with today just for inhaling or ingesting a natural product of the earth.
    These facts being said I am not sure why so many people are looking at this in any kind of negative light. For once in a long time the Federal government took a stand on a policy which actually benefitted people who do choose to control their own life in a responsible way.
    Obama has made mistakes but this policy along with others I am sure to follow are of course a huge leap in the right direction. Why berate a man who has made mistakes while only trying to change the mentality of Americans as a whole. Wouldn’t we all? I am not sure who, if anyone, is qualified enough to run a country and please every single person, but I do feel he is determined to prove Americans honest and true values and not those expressed by the “elite” among us.
    So please look at this not as a scrupulous action to gain votes or win approval of people who are fickle and often under educated. View this opportunity as a glimmer of light in a bleak idea of a capitalist society. Only when we stop castigating every action taken by a man who honestly rejuvented my hopes of at least on person trying to change the ideas of a nation. Noble and dangerous he has led with conviction and honesty (to a point). And if you do feel he is that incompetent then why not yourself take a stand and try to change the the selfish nature of millions.

  32. Some of you are sad. As he gave us this bullshit “suggestion” to shut us up, he is deciding just how many young Americans to send to Afghanistan to die. Bush reversal my ass.

  33. How is everyone bashing obama?
    This is a STEP in the right direction.
    Do you know how difficult it would be for him to go from prohibition to legalization with just one move?
    Geez guys, look at the bigger picture here.

  34. Until theHinchey -Rohrabach er amendment passes or HR 2592 (medical marijuana bill by Barney Frank) makes it into law the see-saw will probably continue. Unfortunately many so called “representatives” are bought and paid for lackeys of special interests. My own rep (not much longer, I’m moving) Heath Shuler, does not support either, or for that matter Barney Frank’s HR 5843 which would remove federal penalties for small, personal amounts. This latter bill should be a no brainer, as about 98% of all cannabis busts are adjudicated on the STATE level and HR 5843 addresses FDERAL penalties!
    Read more at:

  35. 7.Titshot: Your name sucks, what an arse you are.
    If your comment is truly sincere, truly , go to the colleges. I’ve been told by friends in NC that marijuana is the thing to have in college.
    9.David: With you all the way. Sorry for the pain.
    15.Drummer: Eventually is not good enough. What is good enough is “enough is enough” PERIOD.
    17.Anita Riebesell: Far too many are living in the past, compliments of Congress.
    The next “breaking news” we’ll see on pro marijuana web sites will be about dispensaries being raped and raided.
    65.Luke: Exactly my sentiments.
    73: See above about the next “breaking news” we’ll see on pro marijuana web sites will be ..

  36. a big issues is the card system…I have a pretty awful neuro disorder that causes terrible pain, marijuana relieves it…and in california, EVERYONE has a card for the smallest of things…im not saying it shouldnt be legal, but to make it legit, they need to regulate it to those in severe pain, or qualify under the heavy nausea etc etc etc…to me, a knee ache doesnt cut it, I have knee pain from a broken knee, it doesnt touch my knee pain…it handles other types of problems…not something motrin can handle…if its severe thats different….its too weak…
    I just wish the insurance would cover it…:( so expensive.

  37. 160. tigerlil: Obviously you are a young person, HE’s the frakking president making $400,000 a year, don’t care what he has on “his plate”. It’s 24/7, period.
    167.R.O.E.: Exactly ….
    #175: Hearing you man, …

  38. Just wanted to chime in on this statement from post #6.
    “We live in a society where, like it or not, a Democrat or a Republican IS going to win the presidential election…You can say, oh I’ll vote for a third party candidate, but you know at the end of the day that is throwing your vote away…”
    See, as long as people think like this it will be like this. You know, if everyone who thought this on election day actually went through and voted for that 3rd party candidate, something magical might happen: he might actually win. The Secret is true, they just left out the part about actually having to do the action that accomponies your thought. Thoughts do create our reality but not without the action to bring them from our that elusive concept known as mind into the physical world.
    Moral of the story: Don’t vote for Republicrats 🙂

  39. Now we need to get a Nation wide Vote on haveing a equal Law for people that don’t use alcohol and tobacco !That pay tax’s!And the Hemp Law’s are also so Dam dumb ! 1 acer of Hemp is equal to 4 acers of wood’s to make paper and you can even make fule for big trucks,Can someone explain this to the people dishing out Millions to all the car compnays.There could be many jobs made to help or Grate Nation but it’s all about money !Oil cloth fule medcian and manny other things could help us get back on track yet a Handful of Company’s are doing there best to stop this ! Dont you all belive it’s time to tell the Goverment to WTF up ? Can’t even do it in your OWN home,What about the Consution were it say’s that we have the right to Enjoy Happness in OWR own homes without the Gov,Thug’s Putting people in jail for smoking a joint!This is Crazy as hell IMHO What is next ?Cant rely on the kids of today,if you are going to spank 1 of your kid’s they say I’ll call the Police,We need to get back to the OLD USA,Where the Gov,stay’s out of are lives ! This is why are Grate Nation is going to wind up being a Big-Brother country ,Yet we police all countrys that have the OIL and Good’s we want and need we can make it on are own and stop the War’s so-called to help them be free,it’s all Bullshit,Stop giveing out $$ and rebuilding other countrys we are at War with and spend the money helping are own people ! And Hemp is 1 of the way’s and also make pot legail ! And stop all the Mecxco Thugs from making millions of buck’s ! But don’t Tax Medcial Pot user’s ! Tax the Rec users,This would make Billions for are Country ! God Help the UAS ! We need it !

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