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November 2nd, 2009
Obama: It’s High Time Medical Marijuana Laws Were Relaxed

U.S. President Obama and his administration have decided that it’s high time to relax the medical marijuana laws in the United States. There will no longer be prosecution of medical marijuana users or suppliers, as long as laws of the individual states are followed.

The changes of the guidelines were sent to federal prosecutors recently and were designed to aid U.S. Attorneys tracking drug offenders.

The memo states:  “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.”

Obama had strong views on the decriminalization of medical marijuana in the United States in his campaign. He was opposed to the administration of President George W. Bush’s views on the matter. He promised to change policy, and it seems as if he is keeping his word.

“This is a huge victory for medical marijuana patients,” SAID Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, a nationwide medical marijuana advocacy organization. “We will continue to work with President Obama, the Justice Department and the U.S. Congress to establish a comprehensive national policy, but it’s good to know that in the meantime, states can implement medical marijuana laws without interference from the federal government.”

At the moment, only 14 states have allowed the use of the drug for medical means: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The drug has been found to treat chronic pain and sickness that develops from a wide variety of diseases and disorders, this includes cancer and glaucoma.

The memo from the Justice Department states: “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.”

But, the law will still harshly prosecute those that abuse the new medical marijuana laws. Federal prosecutors will instead focus on drug cases that include violence, gun use, dealing to minors, money laundering, and more.

Critics argue that it will decrease attention on the Mexican drug cartels, but health experts insist that the change is warranted and easily-defended by research.

Kenneth W. Goodman, professor of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine sums it up nicely, “If there is evidence that shows that something works and it’s controlled by physicians, then what’s the problem?”

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