US Dept. of Justice Signals Green on State Regulation of Cannabis

On Thursday, 29 August – without fanfare or ceremony – Eric Holder, the United States attorney-general, told the governors of Colorado and Washington that the federal department of justice would not, for the time being, block their legalization experiments. His deputy, James Cole, issued a memo to the 93 US attorneys, who enforce federal law in the states, saying that in states that have legalized cannabis (including medicinal cannabis) they should focus their prosecutorial energies on eight priorities:

1. Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors;

2. Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;

3. Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;

4. Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;

5. Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;

6. Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana;

7. Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and,

8. Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

Although it is possible that a future White House will reverse this decision, August 29, 2013 might be the day the war on drugs began to end.

Unknown, at this time, are practical issues concerning how this decision actually plays out on the streets of Colorado and Washington. In testimony before Congress, Mr. Cole argued that “a robust system [of state-managed regulation] may affirmatively address those [eight] federal priorities … replacing an illicit marijuana trade that funds criminal enterprises with a tightly regulated market in which revenues are tracked and accounted for.”

The District of Columbia (aka Washington, DC, the hub of the global war on drugs) has a legalization bill before its legislature

Ten of Washington’s 13 council members have signed on to a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, virtually assuring some type of reform in the near future. Recent polling puts D.C. residents’ support for marijuana legalization at 63 percent. Passage of a similar law in the District likely would test the boundaries of the Obama administration’s strategy on the federal government’s front porch.

While D.C. Council members have demonstrated broad support for decriminalization of possession, not so for legalization. The decriminalization bill before council would make possession of an ounce or less a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine and require forfeiture.

Excluding Colorado and Washington, 15 states have some form of marijuana decriminalization on the books — but no single standard exists.

While passage of a decriminalization bill seems assured in the District, activists are mixed in their support of legalization efforts with some worried that by pushing the envelope the city could set itself back in the long run.

Health Canada Licenses Prairie Plant Systems Inc. and CanniMed Ltd. to produce medical cannabis

On the one hand, this should be a good news story: federal government – with the interests of all Canadians in its genetic code – issues license to cannabis producer to produce high quality therapuetic product for sufferers of chronic pain and inflammation, arthritis and nausea. All good, or should be.

On the other hand, there is good reason to hold the applause. Having no access to the engine room of the regulations to which PPS and CM are subject, it’s too soon to know whether the end result will be a product that users will actually benefit from. Are these regulations intended to meet the needs of users or producers? There is good reason to be skeptical based on past behaviour from this government and the previous Liberal government.

The licensing of commercial producers brings us one step closer to the end of personal growing which officially ends on April 1, 2014.

If you are not happy with your medical grow rights being taken away please contact