Today Attorney General Eric Holder gave the clearest indication so far that the Justice Department plans to respect state laws that permit the medical use of marijuana:
The policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law….Given the limited resources that we have, our focus will be on people, organizations that are growing, cultivating substantial amounts of marijuana and doing so in a way that's inconsistent with federal and state law.
As medical marijuana activists noted, that still leaves unresolved the issue of what will happen to pending cases against people who provide cannabis to patients in states such as California. Thomas O'Brien, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, has gone back and forth on that question. Charlie Lynch, who ran a medical marijuana dispensary in San Luis Obispo, is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday and could spend decades in federal prison.
Another positive sign: Congress Daily reports that the Obama administration is likely to revisit the DEA's rejection of an application to establish a private source of marijuana for medical research. I discussed that proposal back in 2003.
[Thanks to Bruce Mirken at the Marijuana Policy Project for the tips.]