The Department of Justice sent out a memo today instructing the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration and leading officials in the U.S. Attorneys Office to treat medical marijuana shops as top priorities for prosecutors and drug investigators.
The memo, authored by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, “clarifies” a memo released in 2009 that declared medical marijuana sales in states that have legalized it to be a low priority for law enforcement and prosecutors. The so-called “Ogden memo” first appeared to drug law reformers as evidence that Pres. Obama was dialing back the war on drugs. The DEA and U.S. Attorneys office continued to go after state-legal grow operations and marijuana shops after the memo was first circulated, leading reformers to conclude that Obama was lying when he said on the campaign trail that he had no interest in going after medical marijuana.
The memo written by Cole and addressed to DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart and several members of the U.S. Attorney’s office is a severe amendment to the Ogden memo. “The Department of Justice is committed to the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in all States. Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime that provides a significant source of revenue to large scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels,” the memo reads.