NJ.com: “The debate over the legality of medical marijuana in two western states has prompted State Attorney General Paula Dow to ask the Obama administration whether New Jersey’s future program could violate federal law. Dow’s office sent a letter late today to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to clarify whether those licensed to grow or sell pot — as well as the state workers who will administer the program when it launches later this year — could face arrest.” The letter said in part:
“As the state’s chief legal adviser to all of the departments in the Executive Branch, many of which are participating in carrying out the medical marijuana legislation, it is critical that I properly advise them as to the potential criminal and civil ramifications of their actions in carrying out their duties,” according to Dow’s letter. Accordingly, I ask that you provide me with clear guidance as to the enforcement position of the Department of Justice relative to New Jersey’s medical marijuana legislation and the scope of the entities and individuals who may be subject to civil suit or criminal prosecution,”
This request is a major development in the state legal medical marijuana industry. Will the U.S. Attorney General answer the questions posed by the N.J. Attorney General? If so, the U.S. Attorney General’s answer could potentially kill the entire industry. Eric Holder is being asked to fish or cut bait. The Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and the Attorney Generals of the other states that have legalized medical marijuana should get on the band wagon and send similar requests to Eric Holder.
A related story in the Arizona Republic today headlined “Medical marijuana: Federal pressure stirs legal confusion” discusses the implications arising from the fact that people involved in state legal medical marijuana industry are also violating federal criminal marijuana laws.
“Threatened medical-marijuana crackdowns by federal prosecutors in other states have stoked fears about whether state employees, dispensary owners and others could be punished for operating under Arizona’s fledgling law. . . . Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke’s office says it will offer guidance this week for state officials. . . . The uncertainty surrounding the new state law increased reluctance for landlords to lease to dispensaries and unsettled state Department of Health Services workers. . . . Washington’s U.S. attorneys said the legislation appears to violate federal law and could put state workers at risk for prosecution. . . . Earlier this month, Michael Ormsby, U.S. attorney for Washington’s Eastern District, sent notices to 40 property owners that house dispensaries, warning that they could be violating drug-trafficking laws. Ormsby told the landlords to evict the tenants within 30 days or face the risk of prosecution.”
The U.S. Attorney should not leave the state legal medical marijuana industry in the dark. Too many people have invested their valuable time, money and resources in the states that have legalized marijuana and they deserve to know if they will be prosecuted or not. The need to know is especially important in a state like Arizona that recently legalized medical marijuana, but has not yet have any dispensaries. Mr. Holder, if you intend to prosecute owners of Arizona medical marijuana dispensaries and their employees, tell them now before they spend substantial amounts of money and violate the law. It’s your duty! If you intend to prosecute dispensary owners and/or state employees involved in implementing or administering state legal medical marijuana laws, tell them now and you will be preventing the future violation of federal laws and the need to prosecute violators.