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.
“This is a great day for patients in New Mexico who until now have been forced to choose between their health and the chance of federal prosecution. President Obama is doing the right thing by allowing New Mexico to implement the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act carefully and responsibly without unreasonable federal interference,” said Reena Szczepanski, Director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, “The New Mexico Department of Health should continue expanding access to a safe, regulated supply of medical marijuana for registered patients.”
“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,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, “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.”
Update: The governor's office reacted:
“Our medical cannabis program in New Mexico is helping a select group of patients who cannot get relief from their pain and suffering from any other kind of treatment,” Gov. Richardson said. “I am pleased that President Obama has taken these steps to ensure patients will be protected while getting the medical relief they desperately need.”