Enforcing Federal Drug Laws in States Where Medical Marijuana Is Lawful

JAMA, Vol. 319, No. 14, 1435-1436, April 2018

Posted: 1 May 2018

See all articles by Lawrence O. Gostin

Lawrence O. Gostin

Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law

James G. Hodge

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Sarah Wetter

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 10, 2018

Abstract

On January 4, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum immediately rescinding the Obama Administration’s long-standing guidance limiting federal enforcement of medical marijuana. Federal law creates harsh penalties for the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana, which Sessions deemed a “dangerous drug” and a “serious crime.” The memorandum places physicians and patients at risk of arrest and prosecution in 29 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized medical use of marijuana (eTable in the Supplement).

This Department of Justice (DOJ) guidance came at a time of increasing acceptance, accessibility, and use of cannabis and its derivatives. According to a 2015 nationwide survey, an estimated 22.2 million individuals in the United States aged 12 years or older reported cannabis use in the past 30 days; 90% said their primary use was recreational, with 10% solely for medical purposes; 36% reported mixed medical and recreational use. A 2017 national poll found that 61% of respondents support legalization of marijuana and 71% oppose federal enforcement. In 2016, an estimated 1.2 million adults accessed medicinal marijuana through state-licensed dispensaries or home cultivation.

Suggested Citation

Gostin, Lawrence O. and Hodge, James G. and Wetter, Sarah, Enforcing Federal Drug Laws in States Where Medical Marijuana Is Lawful (April 10, 2018). JAMA, Vol. 319, No. 14, 1435-1436, April 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3167992

Lawrence O. Gostin (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202-662-9038 (Phone)
202-662-9055 (Fax)

James G. Hodge

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
111 E. Taylor Street, MC 9520
Phoenix, AZ 85004-4467
United States
480-727-8576 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://law.asu.edu/degree-programs/public-health-law-policy

Sarah Wetter

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

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