Maine Medical Marijuana Law Under Federal Attack

 maine medical marijuana

Maine’s  federal prosecutor says the state’s medical marijuana law is against federal law and therefore illegal.  The U.S. Attorney sent his letter of opinion to a legislative committee, after they asked for it. That committee is considering a proposal to make it optional for medical marijuana patients to register with the state. The U.S. Attorney says distributing marijuana violates federal law, and he can prosecute people, even if they have state approval. Maine lawmakers say the opinion will not change the committee’s stance on the proposal being considered.

U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty – in a letter dated May 16th – told state legislators that the state’s medical marijuana law contradicted federal law, and that the Department of Justice didn’t look to kindly on pending changes to state law. The letter was in response to a request from the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, which recently endorsed changes to the Maine Medical Marijuana Act

“It changes nothing. We’re still working on going forward with it,” said Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea, a committee member and the sponsor of the new medical marijuana bill.

“There are a lot of patients out there who could benefit from this form of treatment yet they fear engaging in the use of it … because they just don’t want to be on a database,” Sanderson said.

Delahanty’s letter says that “while the (Justice Department) does not focus its limited resources on seriously ill individuals who use marijuana as part of a medically recommended treatment regimen in compliance with state law … we will enforce the (Controlled Substances Act) vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law.”

Alysia Melnik, public policy counsel with the Maine Civil Liberties Union, said Delahanty’s letter probably will not affect Maine’s laws, and she hopes it does not frighten patients or caregivers.

“It’s very, very clear that the state of Maine continues to have a right to decide whether or not to criminalize” medical marijuana use, she said. “We’ve made the decision since 1999 not to criminalize patients and the people caring for them.”