An internal U.S. Justice Department memo reveals that department officials intentionally misled members of Congress about the legal ramifications of a medical marijuana amendment that was being debated in the House of Representatives, reports Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority.
The amendment, which limits the use of federal funds to interfere with state’s medical marijuana programs, passed in May 2014 in spite of objections on the part of the Obama administration.
Shortly before the measure was voted on, Justice Department members distributed “informal talking points” that warned that the amendment “in effect, limit or possibly eliminate the Department’s ability to enforce federal law in recreational marijuana cases as well,” according to the memo.
Despite the department’s claims that the amendment would hinder its ability to enforce federal law in recreational marijuana cases, the memo, dated February 27, 2015, also outlines the department’s legal argument that it could, regardless of the amendment, continue to prosecute people for participating in state medical marijuana programs.
The memo claims that the amendment is limited to preventing the Justice Department from prosecuting states or state officials for implementing medical marijuana laws. The DEA and federal attorneys are still legally able to prosecute people who grow medical marijuana or operate dispensaries, but not state officials who license these growers and dispensaries.
Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) argued that the Justice Department is intentionally twisting Congress’s words: “This memo uses a lot of legal jargon to twist the issue but Congress was clear: Stop prosecuting medical marijuana patients and their providers. There was no confusion in Congress when we passed the amendment last year.”
Last week, Farr and fellow amendment sponsor Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) requested an internal investigation of the Justice Department with regards to continued federal interference in state medical marijuana programs.
Photo Credit: Phil Roeder