On October 19th, the United States Department of Justice issued a memorandum to the United States Attorneys in California detailing a shift in the Department’s policy regarding the investigation and prosecution of federal drug offenses in California. Although the memo is favorable to California’s marijuana laws, in no way does it permit the cultivation, possession, use or distribution of marijuana. The federal Controlled Substances Act continues to make those types of acts illegal.
Specifically, the memo dictates that “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana” should not be the Department’s main focus. In fact, the Justice Department will continue to prosecute those individuals or entities relying on state marijuana laws as a pretext for the illegal distribution of marijuana. Most importantly, the memo states that individuals who are in compliance with medical marijuana laws can still be prosecuted in federal court if it serves an important federal interest. Clearly, this exception leaves the door wide open to prosecute individuals regardless of the new Justice Department guidelines.
This area of the law is highly complex, and the punishments for violation of federal or state drug laws are severe. If you have been arrested for a drug-related offense in California it is important that you speak to one of our highly experienced San Diego criminal defense attorneys. Wallin & Klarich has over 30 years of experience in representing individuals charged with drug-related offenses throughout Southern California. Call Wallin & Klarich at (888) 280-6839 or visit our website at www.wklaw.com. We will be there when you call.