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Legal Information
Legal Information
Department of Justice Memos

On October 19, 2009, the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) issued a memorandum to provide clarification and guidance to federal prosecutors in states that have authorized the medical use of marijuana. Download this memo (pdf) for printing.

  • The guidance makes it clear that USDOJ is committed to prosecuting enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, but that, as a general matter, federal resources in states with medical marijuana laws should not be focused on individuals who are "in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana."
  • Prosecution of commercial enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana for profit will continue to be a priority of USDOJ.

The guidance from USDOJ does not make the use of medical marijuana legal under federal law, and does not create a defense to a federal prosecution for a drug related offense. 

Court Decisions
  • State v. Berringer
    In April of 2010, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a decision that stated an individual with a California medical marijuana card was not entitled to protection from the criminal laws in Oregon when the individual did not have an Oregon medical marijuana card.
  • Dr. Marcus Conant, et. al., v. John P. Walters, et. al.
    This October 29, 2002, decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an earlier decision that the US Government could not punish physicians for voicing their professional opinions based on their best medical judgment (Conant v. McCaffrey, September 7, 2000). The Court of Appeals decision upholds the First Amendments rights of physicians who recommend the use of medical marijuana for their patients.