In recent weeks, US attorneys have warned states that those who are licensed to grow marijuana or even those who regulate it could be subjected to prosecution. Because of this, several states have begun to reconsider their current laws for medical marijuana.
These warnings have affected Washington State Governor, Chris Gregoire, who recently vetoed a proposal that was going to make licensed marijuana dispensaries. Gregoire says that she is going to work with other states and try to get federal marijuana laws changed so that these types of conflicts will be resolved.
According to these recent letters from US attorneys, criminal or civil penalties would be considered for large-scale medical marijuana operations and those who regulate them, even those operations and regulators that are allowed by state law. Although no state workers have been charged by the federal government for regulating medical marijuana, lawmakers are now concerned about their current medical marijuana policies.
Currently, fourteen states allow marijuana for medical usage, despite it not being federally legal.
Gregoire wants to work with other governors and get medical marijuana federally reclassified as a Schedule 2 substance, which would put it in the same category as morphine and oxycodone. It is currently a Schedule 1 narcotic, and has the strictest level of enforcement in federal drug law.
According to Tracy Schmaller, Justice Department spokeswoman, “We will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal.”
Ezra Eickmeyer, Washington Cannabis Association political director, said this about the recent events, “Coming in and trying to strong-arm legislatures is way over the top. We would have expected this sort of thing from the Bush administration, but not Obama.”