Incoming Deputy U.S. Attorney James Cole is trying to call a mulligan on a major memo released by his predecessor David Ogden. That memo, which essentially promises states that Uncle Sam won't arrest medical-marijuana growers, providers, or regulators so long as they comply with state laws, needs to be "clarified," Cole says.
The clarification: All that we-won't-arrest-you stuff was actually bullshit.From a new memo written by Cole and released Thursday:
"Persons who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law."
Cole goes on to essentially say that what was supposedly intended to give the OK to a very few small-scale state-run medical-cannabis operations has turned into a monster of 16 states with laws on the books, large-scale cultivation facilities, and pot-smoking chaos abounding.
In promising to prosecute anyone the department deems has crossed the vague line in the sand that Cole and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have drawn, Cole won't even guarantee that state workers will be immune from prosecution for overseeing the medical pot trade.
This compared to Ogden's memo, which said among other things:
As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.
And yet Department of Justice Spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler insists to the AP that that Cole's memo isn't a departure from Ogden's, and that the government hasn't changed its policy, only "clarified" it.
So now not only are federal officials going back on their word about a hugely important issue, but they seem to be treating people as if they're too stupid to remember what was said in the first place.