A recent letter from the Department of Justice (DOJ), threatening state employees in charge of implmenting medical marijuana laws with prosecution, has forced some governors to re-evaluate and even veto popular legislation -- all seemingly in violation of what the medical marijauana community thought was a cease-fire with the federal government.
Facing the threat of seeing otherwise innocent state employees thrown in jail, lawmakers are responding in an entirely human fashion: what Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), called "the old need to CYA -- cover your ass."
Ultimately, the administration's confusing legal position has led to a stagnation of medical marijuana reform efforts, with some states simply deciding it's not worth the risk.
It also represents a significant change in momentum for the prohibition reform movement as a whole, and one that's taken them almost entirely by surprise.
In 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department issued a memo stating that it would not prosecute medical marijuana patients, suppliers or caregivers in states that have passed voter initiatives to legalize the drug's use -- so long as they were all abiding by that state's laws.
Earlier this month, however, the Justice Department sent a letter to the governor of Washington, warning that state employees may be prosecuted if they are in any way involved in the licensing of production or distribution of marijuana.
"The prosecution of individuals and organizations involved in the trade of any illegal drugs and the disruption of drug trafficking organizations is a core priority of the Department," department attorneys wrote. "This core priority includes prosecution of business enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana."
"Any" without regard to efficacy nor safety, to say nothing of U.S. AG Holder's previous lip service to USC 10th Amendment values - the U.S. Department of "Justice" is guilty of reckless endangerment for the sake of cigarette-pharma racketeering.