ACLU Calls on US Attorney General For Cannabis Clarification

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Medical marijuana growing in CA

5/10/2011 – The national office of The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a letter to the US Department of Justice about medical marijuana. It asks for Attorney General Eric Holder to fully clarify the federal position regarding the seriously ill and often terminal patients who grow or possess cannabis legally in their state.

From the ACLU press release today:

In a letter sent late yesterday, the ACLU expresses deep concern about recent letters from several U.S. attorneys from across the country that threaten people who comply with state medical marijuana laws, including state employees and state licensed providers of medical marijuana, with federal prosecution.“Patients, providers and legislatures need clear guidance from DOJ so they can proceed in confidence that state law will be respected,” said Jay Rorty, Director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project and one of the authors of the ACLU’s letter. “Patients who suffer from serious medical conditions need safe and reliable access to their medicine without the fear of federal prosecution.”

The ACLU’s letter was also signed by Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office and Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel.  READ FULL RELEASE

Medical marijuana advocates and industry professionals had viewed a 2009 memo from the Department of Justice and subsequent statements by Attorney General Eric Holder as a position of non-interference.  Even as DEA raids happened this year in Washington and Montana many thought that federal agents were targeting those facilities less compliant with local medical marijuana laws. But recent letters from US Attorneys to states like Rhode Island have taken a more aggressive stance.

Make no mistake: We are experiencing a nationally coordinated, federal attack on state laws authorizing medical cannabis. ACLU has been always been right in the thick of this fight and the letter yesterday acknowledges the major shift for the issue this spring.

Questions?  [email protected]

Chris Goldstein is a respected marijuana reform advocate. As a writer and radio broadcaster he has been covering cannabis news for over a decade. He volunteers with local groups to change prohibition laws including PhillyNORML and The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey.


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