WASHINGTON --- The Associated Press broke a story late Sunday that the U.S. Department of Justice will be issuing new guidelines Monday to U.S. Attorneys regarding an official policy toward medical marijuana. While the guidelines are yet to be released, advocates are hailing this formal policy as a major victory in the effort to allow states to implement medical marijuana laws without interference from the federal government.
Furthermore, it indicates a willingness by the Obama Administration to establish sound medical marijuana policies, such as changing federal law, which currently criminalizes all marijuana use, including medical use, and expanding research into this promising therapeutic substance.
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"This is a huge victory for medical marijuana patients," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, the nationwide medical marijuana advocacy organization. "We will continue to work with the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress to establish a comprehensive national policy, but it's good to know that in the meantime states can implement medical marijuana laws without interference from the federal government."
As promising as the new guidelines seem, certain questions remain, like whether U.S. Attorneys will be instructed to allow federal defendants the use of medical evidence and state law compliance in their federal criminal cases. In addition, the Associated Press reports that the new guidelines "urges prosecutors to pursue marijuana cases which involve...selling pot to minors" and other federal crimes, which are not considered illegal under certain state medical marijuana laws.