Delaware: Federal Threats Halt Plans To Implement State’s Nascent Medicinal Cannabis Law

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

Democrat Gov. Jack Markell has abruptly halted plans to implement legislation passed in 2011 that allows qualified patients to obtain marijuana from state-licensed facilities.

Governor Markell had initially signed the law, Senate Bill 17, The Delaware Medical Marijuana Act, last May. Under the law, patients with a qualifying illness may legally possess up to six ounces of cannabis, provided they obtained it from a state-licensed, not-for-profit ‘compassion center.’ State regulators were anticipated to begin licensing marijuana producers and distributors later this year.

On Friday, Gov. Markell announced that he was suspending the program because his office had received a letter from the Obama Justice Department alleging that it would subject those licensed under the law, as well as public servants, to federal criminal prosecution.

States the letter, authored by US Attorney Charles M. Oberly III, “[G]rowing, distributing and possessing marijuana, in any capacity, other than as part of a federally authorized research program, is a violation of federal law regardless of state laws permitting such activities. Moreover, those who engage in financial transactions involving the proceeds of such activities may also be in violation of federal money laundering statutes.”

The letter further threatens, “State employees who conduct activities mandated by the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act are not immune from liability under” the Controlled Substances Act.

Justice Department officials sent similar letters to lawmakers and governors in states considering related legislation last spring. Shortly after receiving the letters, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed legislation that sought to allow for licensed cannabis dispensaries in that state. Soon thereafter, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee also nixed regulations allowing for the state-licensed production and distribution of cannabis.

In a statement issued by Gov. Markell on Friday, he claimed that the federal government left him with no choice but to suspend the law’s implementation. “To do otherwise would put our state employees in legal jeopardy, and I will not do that,” he said.

In response to the Governor’s actions, sponsors of the law have suggested amending the Medical Marijuana Act to allow for qualified patients to cultivate cannabis at home, a practice that is presently allowed under state law in 14 other states.

To date, three states – Colorado, Maine, and New Mexico – have issued licenses to allow for the state-sanctioned production and distribution of cannabis. So far, programs in those states have operated largely without federal interference.

Similar licensing legislation approved in recent years in Arizona, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington, DC has yet to be implemented by local lawmakers.

75 thoughts

  1. not sure what’s worse the cock weasel US Attorneies or the spineless state govt caving into this OBVIOUSLY misguided threat to PATIENTS and law abiding state workers. It’s disgusting on both accounts !! States have the right to let their sick be medicated despite federal laws to the contrary. Stand up Gov. Jack Markell Jesus man have a freaking backbone !

  2. This ass-hole President is starting to get me pissed-off. He needed OUR votes to get to the White House. Now we will sit out this election,or vote for the other party. I just hope,and pray it’s Ron Paul. Peace, Buster Jones Albany, GA.

  3. While I can’t blame the governor for not wanting to implement the law that permits medical marijuana, it would be just as well for him to allow it and declare formally to the state that he allows it but the Federal government does not, and that they will have to decide for themselves whether or not to risk it.

  4. The law is wrong,the Obama Administration is wrong for enforcement of it.Id like to find the people who so staunchly support prohibition that they keep destroying people’s lives.These pig headed prohibitionists should be put in jail.

  5. The fact that every single one of the federal politicians from MMJ states who are elected to represent the populace of their states has not signed on to legislation to get the feds the fuck out of the way demonstrates that they are beholden to special interests. As politicians near and true to the people who elect them, it is their duty to represent them even on matters that they personally would not embrace. That means they may be personally against legal cannabis, but the fact that voters in their states are for it suffices for them to promote those interests at the federal level.

    No fuckin’ balls & in some big money lobby’s pocket, for sure.

  6. Deleware your a bunch of P***ys. stand up to the federal gov’t and tell them we dont care what you think! Ever heard of states rights? Why don’t you stand up for them for once?

  7. Not much to say other than people are going to have to keep breaking laws. I think I’m gonna get really really drunk tonight. That’s totally ok with Obama. Maybe even start up cigarettes

  8. This is the EXACT reason why we need to petition the federal governments law. We need to go over their heads, we have to pass them at their own game. TAKE EM TO COURT.

    there is enough governors and senators in office right now against keeping cannabis illegal that they could do this. We need to stop silently letting this happen, we need to start the war against the drug war. Remember that Regan once said the last thing we want is the government saying that they are here to help us. I thought about this long and hard today, if history has taught us anything, Capitalism has ALWAYS been the problem.
    Communism, Socialism, Capitalism, it all rapes the rights of citizens and unfairly dictates what HUMANS can do. They are NOT our fathers, and they most certainly are NOT our friends.
    The government needs a reset button.

  9. We keep fight and the government will eventually give up. They can try their hardest to keep marijuana illegal, but we will succeed. Even if one state legalizes the rest will follow.

    Stay positive and nothing can stand in our way.

  10. Our Governor is a (expletive deleted) who bows down before Obama because he doesn’t have any cojones. I’ve lived here my whole life, so to have this Benedict Arnold turn tale when his boss says he’s out of line, disgraces my home of delaware and I will not condone this.

  11. Let’s see, the Federal government has been rubbing our faces in shit for how long now? Still do’in it I see…Well one things for sure,our government is public enemy number one the way I see it. They know exactly what they are doing,they know exactly how crook’ed they’ve been all along, and don’t give a damn about anything other than srewing the country over to line the Special interest’s pockets.Help Mr. Wizard Help!

  12. I am seriously tired of this.

    I will be moving my family to another COUNTRY.

    I hope their first born children are infested with cancer by age 18 and there is not shit to be done.

    I would say I dont wish bad things on people, but I have no chioce but to WISH. They do bad things to me in the name of their Lord, their religion, their “morals”. We are going to no longer have a country for your “morals” to set a standard of living for the rest of us. China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are waiting for us to weaken just a little more. Then I pray, for the first time in years, that your God has mercy on your souls.

  13. Here is an idea.

    Someone take this info to a Republican presidential debate. Annouce your plans to the media that LIKE Ron Paul. This will separate the rest from the best. IF REPUBLICAN VIEWERS TRULY ARE TRYING TO GET OBAMA OUT OF OFFICE, THEY WILL CHANGE THIER VOTE TO RON PAUL SINCE SANTORUM, ROMNEY, AND THAT OTHER GUY DONT WANT MARIJUANA LEGALIZED FOR MEDICAL OR RECREACTIONAL USE.

    They bitch about everything Obama does. If they are really wanting to stand their ground, THEY WILL HAVE TO SAY THEY AGREE WITH OBAMA. Bad thing to be said on the media right now.

  14. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass. Psalm 37:7.

  15. I would dearly love to see the rationale for actions like these. Is it possible to use the freedom of information act to get this info?

    While they spend our money on this outright cruelty against an anti-tumor ‘drug’, the physically addicting carcinogen tobacco remains perfectly legal.

    Anyone wonder why we have a healthcare crisis.

  16. Law enforcement is still arresting people with small amount of Marijuana just by profiling. The Federal agents shutdown 26 medical marijuana dispensaries across Montana and 2 in the medical marijuana sanctuary city of West Hollywood, California and now Coronado in last few months in their latest attack on patients and legitimate businesses in the eyes of the states. The DEA isn’t even supposed to be conducting these raids, wasting scarce funds, in the first place. Several members of congress have already asked President Obama to halt these raids and to reschedule Marijuana as a legitimate controlled medical substance, as he pledged to do in his first presidential campaign. In 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo ordering an end to federal raids of medical marijuana dispensaries. Yet, despite his memo, federal agents have continued these operations sporadically for years, without regard for patients’, states’ or business’ rights NORML Attorneys file multiple constitutional challenges to federal medical marijuana crackdown now over the drug policy. Because of that millions to billions of dollars of our tax money is still being wasted, is that what we want?

    The DEA has stock houses full of Marijuana worth billion and billions of dollars for the government from marijuana secures. Instead of burning it sell it to marijuana research programs. Then reopen the list for medical marijuana patients “Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program” that George W. Bush halted. Did you know there are only 4 people left on that program do you think it is time to re-regulate the program then open the list back up to the public to get over 40,000 on the list? It will also help to stimulate the University of Mississippi for the growing, buying and researching marijuana, that they have done since 1968. The release and sale of confiscated Marijuana to reputable medical testing facilities will help pay off part of the trillions of the national debt the Government has accumulated.

    Over 60% of the prison systems have prisoners serving time for marijuana it’s costing over 17 billion in the cost of saving and tax revenue. Lots of states are cutting there law enforcement budgets or converting the county sheriff’s department to take over because there districts don’t have the money to run the local police departments. Worse yet, several areas in the United States are privatizing their prisons to corporations that profit off of crime and victimization of Americans. Some states are tired of arresting people with marijuana possession and just want to give up or decriminalize possession. If the legal system keeps on arresting people for simple marijuana possession the more of a spending ripple affect coming from the departments of corrections systems to cities, counties, states and federal levels will occur. There will be an increasing waste of millions to billions of tax payer dollars in law enforcement regarding a minor offense that more than half of Americans have admitted to. The enforcement of drug abuse should be regarded as medical issues instead of a criminal one.

    Not to mention the eternal mark on a persons record for a non-violent marijuana possession, removing any chance for financial aid for schooling in the future to limiting potential jobs and cancelling out a lot of other furthering opportunities. It has become clear over the past half-century that the culture of recreational and medicinal Marijuana use will always be part of American life forever. This has been proven beyond debate, it is something that must be realized by our government in order for meaningful drug-enforcement policy to be written that actually helps the citizens of our country. The Gallop Poll has just released that over 50% of Americans approve of the legalization of Marijuana, it is the will of the people.

    Obama has said in many speeches, he wants clean energy reform of new factories that manufacture clean energy products because oil is on a rise of part of the domino affect of loss jobs. There is now a movement to make clean energy from: wind, hydro, algea, corn, electric cars and much more. One of the cleanest most efficient energy producers is hemp, which can produce food, essential nutrition, , shelter in Hempcrete and other building materials, rope, paper, clothes, it has the potential to rid our society of our reliance on foreign fossil fuel as gas as hemp bio-fuel. It can be a big boost to stimulate the economy now to bring back more jobs to states that are suffering today. Now you know the gold price has been going through up at a frenzied pace recently. If you legalize it there can be a commodity market for marijuana and hemp, which could surpass gold as the “green gold.”

    Like I said before, I believe this is the time to see “pigs fly” ‘desperate times call for desperate measures! This is the time to really end the marijuana prohibition for good and cleanse other prohibitions that are not needed as well. Right now our budget is in crisis and the government is on the brink of cutting federal programs with a government shut down. Without action it will only get worse from here and both sides, democrats and republicans, are still at a loss. Time is ticking if congress can not come up with a plan to save the programs soon before Government shut downs, we will have more homeless people on the streets like the great depression. The increasing poverty level is already becoming very problematic. We are coming to the breaking point of a Great Depression part 2. This is an issue that must be addressed ASAP even though the stigma about marijuana and drugs from U.S. congress and U.S senate is terrible

  17. The entire Federal Government seems like a really really bad joke! What a bunch of jerky bastards for continuing to ignore the will of the people…

    This is not my idea of America! Throw the bums, starting with Obama, out!

    I’m tired as hell and I’m not going to take it any more…

  18. There is a solution to the current problem of marijuana and that solution is politicians that are willing to stand up for the rights of rational sense and the will of the people. If Ron Paul is going to be our leader, he will have to step out from under the Republican umbrella and go independent. Can someone please tell me how to get this to happen, because he will not win the republican nomination. Almost everyone I know (Republican and Democrat) would vote for Paul. Where has reason and ration gone in our country today? It has been replaced by money, greed, and self-interest. What a sad state of affairs. Hopefully one day things will become better.
    Peace through love, change through knowledge.

  19. JJ, you couldn’t be more right. That would be the one to end them all. But Romney said that although he doesn’t support legal cannabis, he DOES support State’s Rights. Idk how true that holds, but if we can’t RP, Romney might be the next best thing…

  20. They are playing games with peoples’ health and lives. You watch patients and their caregivers will go underground to a black market, this is a terrible event.

  21. Jman305,

    Romney!?! RP is the ONLY non-pathetic choice. Romney doesn’t care about the Constitution or the People. He cares about His money. He’s a spoiled, rich guy getting His rocks off on popularity.

  22. Amaterasu has given me the vision to see that shifting from a scarcity paradigm to an abundance paradigm, but not in the way at the link. Instead, flood the market all over the country with cheap, decent weed. Nothing says fuck you to the competition like my buzz is less unhealthy, cheaper and just as available. In hard economic times the masses will go for the cheaper option, and nothing says improved pro-legalization support more than YOUR ATTEMPTS AT MARIJUANA PROHIBITION ARE A BIGGER, COSTLIER FAILURE THAN EVER and MORE PEOPLE ARE VAPORIZING OR TOKING.

    It’s time to ramp up worldwide cannabis production. It’ll be better than the 70s, with the classics, currents, and exotic varieties such as Thai stick, exotic hashishes like Red Lebanese, Golden Ginger Moroccan, Black Afghan, Nepalese Temple Balls.

    Flood the market, and offer the Middle Eastern people instant jobs with western currency to pay for the creature comforts of a more modern standard of living. That’s instant jobs here and worldwide for Americans. Just make sure once it’s legal that it’s traded on a U.S. stock exchange and in U.S. dollars.

    The whole point in threatening the states and their cannabis employees will be moot. You prohibitionist dicks have completely missed the point of having dispensaries and a visible, controllable point of access to the production sources and the retail outlets.

  23. What comes after Delaware?
    Obama put a mad woman in charge of the federal war on cannabis and her name is Michele Leonhart.

  24. Everyone who post I hope you read this. We need to act and voice our opinoins and this includes lobbying. We need to advertise, protest, and make our voices heard. We need to publish facts and make arguments based on solid facts not opinoin. Join NORML and do your part. Twitter @CannabisColbert

  25. The Oracle Says
    ‘:t’s time to ramp up worldwide cannabis production. It’ll be better than the 70s, with the classics, currents, and exotic varieties such as Thai stick, exotic hashishes like Red Lebanese, Golden Ginger Moroccan, Black Afghan, Nepalese Temple Balls.”

    Those where the days…the problem now is, the increased surveillance-technology make getting those exotic imports almost impossible. unless its stale brick- bud from the cartels. At least some of these sub-tropical strains have been preserved in modern hybrids.
    But once it becomes “Legal” it would be nice to have a selection from these tropical locales.Shit,the “Dutch East Indian Company” has been doing it since the 1600s, bringing nutmeg,hashish,ginger ,cloves.cannabis,vanilla, tumeric- all the exotic herbs and spices to England and Europe over the centuries.
    But now days we have “Freedom”. we need to be protected from ourselves.
    Have you ever gotten a chile pepper seed in your eye, it could potentialy cause an ulcer. What if there was no water to wash it out with, What about the children?
    Logicaly then,
    I guess we should make skateboards illegal, too huh?,…all the potential bone fractures that could be prevented in a year and saving money on expensive doctor bill’s as well,The list goes on and on.

    Please save us from ourselves,,haha (joke)


  26. Wake up people,the bottum line is the Pharmaceutical Industrys lobbyist are filling the politicians coffers with boat loads of pay-o-la to keep this natural medication from being prescribed because it will cost them millions of dollars in profit.From what I read medical marijuana work on many medical aliments.I even read where the A.M.A.even see medical benefits of this herb.As always the polititicians rule this country for who ever can put the most money in their coffer. They’ll fill up are prisons with law abiding citizens who self-medicate with marijuana,then they’ll tell us their creating jobs by haveing to build new prisons!

  27. There is 535 total in congress and the pharmaceutical industry has 1274 registered lobbyist,go figure!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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