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April 10, 2018

Enforcing Federal Drug Laws in States Where Medical Marijuana Is Lawful

Author Affiliations
  • 1O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC
  • 2Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University, Phoenix
JAMA. 2018;319(14):1435-1436. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.1083

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.1 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).

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