U.S. Attorney Briefly Halts Medical Marijuana Prosecutions
By Andrew Ramonas | March 8, 2009 5:02 pm

U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien in Los Angeles issued a secret memo late last month that directed prosecutors to cease filing charges against clinics that distributed medical marijuana. The O’Brien dropped the embargo this Friday, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Courtesy of L.A. TImes

Courtesy of L.A. Times

The ban, which lasted from Feb. 27 to March 6, came on the heels of comments made by Attorney General Eric Holder at a February press conference where he appeared to imply that the prosecution of medical marijuana cases was not a major concern of the Justice Department, according to the Times.

An official in the Justice Department told the L.A. Times that Holder did not order the temporary halt in prosecutions. O’Brien declined to comment to the Times.

California and more than a dozen states allow the farming, vending and utilization of medical marijuana prescribed by a physician, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a group that lobbies for cannabis legalization.  Federal law, which supersedes state laws, prohibits all uses of cannabis.

President Obama made general comments on the campaign trail that prosecuting those associated with medical marijuana would not be a top priority in states that protected its use, according to the L.A. Times.

“The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind,” Nick Shapiro, a White House spokesman, told the Washington Times last month.


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