OLYMPIA – States that have legalized marijuana for medical uses are pushing the U.S. Justice Department for help in sorting out the conflict between federal drug laws and their own, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he’s aware of the problems and agreed this week to work with her, as the head of the National Governor’s Association and the point person for the 16 states with medical marijuana laws.
But Holder told her a department memo on not using federal resources to pursue patients using medical marijuana is being “misinterpreted” by the states and people setting up dispensaries to sell the drug to patients. That lack of prosecution was intended only for “those that are really quite ill” she said. “It’s expanded beyond anything anticipated in the Ogden Memo.” Holder told her he fully supports federal prosecutors who are shutting down dispensaries, and they are in Eastern Washington and Montana.
Gregoire believes the federal government should reclassify marijuana so it can be used for some medicinal purposes. Right now it’s classified as illegal for all uses. But reclassification usually takes time for drug tests, and the states don’t have that luxury. “I said, ‘The states need your help, the sooner the better.”