US Halts Raids on Medical Marijuana Facilities

Holder signals major shift from Bush era's zero tolerance
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2009 7:32 AM CDT
Attorney General Eric Holder arrives to address the National Association of Attorneys General,Monday, March 2, 2009, in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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(Newser) – Attorney general Eric Holder said yesterday that the Justice Department will no longer prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries that operate legally in California and 12 other states, reports the Los Angeles Times. While he and other Obama officials had hinted previously at the change, the AG's announcement was the most detailed statement of the new drug policy, which civil liberties advocates called a sweeping change.

Under the Bush administration, feds targeted medical marijuana distributors even in states that had legalized the drug's use for cancer patients, chronic pain sufferers, and other ill citizens. The Justice Department's new priority will be rooting out facilities that are in fact fronts for drug dealers. "Those are the organizations, the people, that we will target," Holder said.