Timothy Phelps (Los Angeles Times) reported last week that the Department of Justice (DOJ) claims that it can prosecute medical marijuana cases despite the fact that Congress passed a bipartisan amendment last year which prohibited the DOJ from spending money to undermine state medical marijuana laws. Phelps said that “Congress added an amendment to a spending bill ordering the Justice Department not to interfere with states that allow the sale of medical marijuana from implementing their laws” in December.
Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said in a statement Wednesday that it did not not believe the amendment applies to cases against individuals or organizations.
Rather, he said, it stops the department from “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws,” contrary to some claims from people being prosecuted that the amendment blocks such prosecutions.
Phelps added that the narrow interpretation of the law was “of particular interest in the Bay Area, where the Justice Department has initiated forfeiture proceedings against three medical marijuana dispensaries it considers to be in violation of federal law.” Henry Wykowski, a lawyer for the medical marijuana dispensaries, was quoted as saying, “I think that the amendment is vague and it hasn’t been interpreted by any court yet. But the language can be read more broadly to encompass such prosecutions.”
Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance said that the DOJ “continues to target people who are complying with their state medical marijuana law.” He added, “This insubordination is occurring despite the fact that members of Congress in both parties were clear that their intent with the amendment was to protect medical marijuana patients and providers from federal prosecution and forfeiture.”
Last May, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Democratic Congressman Sam Farr offered an amendment to a spending bill prohibiting the Justice Department from spending any money in 2015 to prevent states “from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
The Drug Policy Alliance worked to pass the amendment. Members of both parties took to the House floor in opposition to the prosecution of medical marijuana patients and providers and in defense of states setting their own marijuana laws without federal interference.
The Republican-controlled House passed the amendment with most Democrats and 49 Republicans approving it. The amendment was backed in the Senate by Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Cory Booker and made it into the final “cromnibus” bill that was signed by President Obama in December. The spending restriction applies to fiscal year 2015 spending.
The DOJ’s stance on medical marijuana prosecutions comes at a time when a U.S. government-funded research group tasked with studying drug abuse and addiction has admitted “that marijuana is useful in killing off specific types of brain tumors.”
Tom Boggioni (Raw Story):
The report — coming from a government-backed group with annual budget of over $1 billion — arrives at an awkward time for the administration following an announcement by the Department of Justice this week that it will continue to prosecute medical marijuana cases against individuals in defiance of Congress.
Sam P. K. Collins (ThinkProgress) said that the “information war about marijuana may have turned a new page with the federal government’s acknowledgment of a recent study that found the plant can significantly reduce aggressive types of brain tumors when combined with radiation treatment, endorsing what medicinal marijuana advocates have long affirmed as its healing properties.” Collins said that researchers at St. George’s University of London had “recorded reductions in high-grade glioma masses — a deadly form of brain cancer — in mice.” The mice’s tumors reportedly “shrank after they were exposed to radiation in tandem with two marijuana compounds: THC, which creates the “high feeling,” and CBD, which has no psychoactive side effects.” Collins added that “the researchers said that both cannabinoids made tumors more receptive to the radiation treatment, creating what lead author Dr. Wai Lui described to HuffPost as a ‘triple threat’ approach.”
Earlier this year, Lui wrote in an op-ed: “We’ve shown that cannabinoids could play a role in treating one of the most aggressive cancers in adults. The results are promising…it could provide a way of breaking through glioma and saving more lives.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a government drug abuse and addiction research organization, may be on the cusp of a philosophical change. NIDA issued a revised statement about medical marijuana at the beginning of April that acknowledged the research out of St. George’s University of London, as well as other findings summarized in a November research report.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine,” the statement reads. “However, scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Continued research may lead to more medications.”
According to Collins, Lui’s medical marijuana study followed on “other research conducted by a team of scientists from the United Kingdom who found that a combination of six purified cannabinoids can kill cancerous cells found in leukemia patients.” He added, “Previous research has confirmed that THC reduces the size of cancerous tumors and stops the spread of HIV.” In addition, scientists have reportedly “found that strains of CBD can potentially treat children and adults suffering from seizure disorders.”
WTF????? Does DOJ stand for Department Of Jerks?
Justice Department says it can still prosecute medical marijuana cases (Los Angeles Times)