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Justice Deparment claims “no regrets” on medical pot stance, but is surprised by public outcry

February 24, 2012

posted by dan@hearstdc.com (Dan Freedman)

Washington –  Eight months after the Justice Department appeared to reverse course on its apparent hands-off policy on medical marijuana, officials there maintain a “no regrets” stance but acknowledge being out of their element in the face of blowback from marijuana supporters.

“As U.S. attorneys, it’s not our job to go out there and engage in public debate,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner, whose district is based in Sacramento. “We let our cases do the talking.”

Green light in 2009: A 2009 Justice Department directive to U.S. attorneys nationwide appeared to give the medical marijuana industry a green light, stating that federal law enforcement should not give priority to cases against individuals and caregivers acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

But a get-tough memo issued in June left pot backers howling that prosecutors had pulled the rug out from under the burgeoning medical marijuana industry.

(read more)

Dan Freedman is national editor in the Hearst Newspapers Washington Bureau. dan@hearstdc.com

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