[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] will no longer prosecute owners of medical marijuana facilities that do not violate state law, Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] said Wednesday. Although the use of medical marijuana violates federal law, thirteen states have legalized its use. Holder warned, however, that the federal government would continue to prosecute dispensers that violate state law [AP report], including dispensers that are fronts for drug dealers. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) [official website] opposed Holder's decision [AP report], arguing that marijuana leads to harder drugs. Holder did not comment on whether the DOJ would continue to prosecute medical marijuana cases already underway. Also Wednesday, a bill legalizing medical marijuana in New Hampshire survived a committee vote [Union Leader report] in the state House of Representatives [official website]. The house will vote on the bill next week.
Under the Bush administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) [official website] routinely raided medical marijuana distributors because they violate federal law. The DEA raided medical marijuana facilities as recently as February [Washington Times report] to the disappointment of President Barack Obama, who, during his campaign, pledged to end raids [Boston Globe report]. Michigan became the most recent state to legalize the use of medical marijuana by passing a proposition [JURIST report] last November. The US Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Gonzales v. Raich [opinion text; JURIST report] upheld Congress's power to criminalize the growth and personal use of marijuana for medical purposes.