Roger Goodman: Dear Department of Justice: Please Try Again
Yet another disappointment! I've just read carefully through the new Cole Memo from the DOJ. It supposedly “clarifies” federal policy on state-regulated medical marijuana, but if anything it leaves us more confused and uncertain (which is probably how folks at DOJ are feeling, too).
With the Ogden Memo in 2009 the Administration staked out new territory that gave some comfort to the drug policy reform community. The latest statement from DOJ says federal policy has not changed -- but the social and cultural change continues as public opinion sways in our favor. The situation on the ground is clearly straining federal policy.
If we can count on federal policy not changing, as the Cole Memo asserts, than any activity "unambiguously complying with state law" should not be prosecuted, as the Ogden Memo originally stated. The increasing scope of state-sanctioned, state-regulated activity related to medical marijuana shouldn't trigger any federal enforcement.
Unfortunately, the disturbing raids here in Washington State and elsewhere prove otherwise. Patients right now are feeling vulnerable and afraid because of this new spectre of federal prosecutions.
The original Odgen Memo and the new Cole Memo are political statements more than legal opinions. We must remember that marijuana is absolutely prohibited under federal law for any purpose whatsoever. Until recently this Administration had wisely implemented a selective enforcement policy more respectful to state laws and to public opinion. We need more sensitive leadership like that.
Let us call on the Administration to come out clearly in support of responsible state-regulated medical marijuana programs across the country - what's best for patients and for public health and safety.
Sorry DOJ - Please give it another try.
Rep. Roger Goodman (D-WA)
Candidate for U.S. Congress 2012