What exactly is the Obama DOJ position on state medical marijuana laws?

In March, Eric Holder stated that the DOJ would no longer raid distributors of medical marijuana who were compliant with the laws in their state.

But now, the DOJ is conflicting with the principles implied by that position, and not intervening in just such a case, even after the judge in that case specifically postponed it while he awaited a response from the DOJ. The DOJ not only chose not to intervene, but explicitly stated that prosecuting Lynch is consistent with the DOJ’s position.

The Justice Department announced over the weekend that it will not intervene in the case of Charlie Lynch, the California man convicted on federal charges of drug distribution despite the fact that his business was legal under California law. The federal judge in Lynch’s case had postponed Lynch’s sentencing to inquire if the Obama administration might want to back off, given Attorney General Holder’s recent statements about not prosecuting medical marijuana distributors who are complying with state and local law.

It would be merely disappointing had the DOJ based its decision not to intervene on the fact that a verdict had already been rendered in Lynch’s case. But the DOJ response goes much further, specifically stating that the entire prosecution of Lynch is consistent with the government’s new position on medical marijuana, as laid out by Holder. It’s hard to say, then, exactly what distinguishes Obama’s position on medical marijuana from Bush’s. Lynch sought out and received assurance from state and local authorities that he was in complete compliance with state and local law. If that isn’t enough to meet Holder’s new policy, what is?

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