The Department of Justice

US Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Maine

100 Middle Street
6th Floor, East Tower
Portland, Maine 04101
(207)780-3060 (TTY)
(207)780-3304 (FAX)

May 16, 2011

Honorable Earle L. McCormick
Maine State Senate
100 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0100

Honorable Meredith N. Strang Burgess
Maine House of Representatives
100 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0100

Re: Medical Marijuana Act Legislation

Dear Senator McCormick and Representative Strang Burgess:

I am in receipt of your letter inquiring whether this office has concerns about legislation to amend Maine’s Medical Marijuana Act (MMA) now pending before the 125thLegislature and your Committee on Health and Human Services. I write to ensure that there is no confusion regarding the United States Department of Justice’s view on such legislative proposals.

We can neither endorse nor comment on the specifics of the MMA or the proposed amendments other than to advise you those activities by users (patients), caregivers and dispensaries remain illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

This office has consulted with leadership offices within the Department of Justice to assure that our response is consistent with replies of United States Attorneys in other districts.

Congress has determined that marijuana is a controlled substance and has placed marijuana in Schedule I of the CSA. As such, growing, distributing and possessing marijuana in any capacity, other than as part of a federally authorized research program, is a violation of federal law regardless of state laws permitting such activities.

The prosecution of individuals and organizations involved in the trade of any illegal drugs and the disruption of drug trafficking organizations are core priorities of the Department. This priority includes prosecution of individuals and enterprises that unlawfully cultivate and sell marijuana. Accordingly, while the Department does not focus its limited resources on seriously ill individuals who use marijuana as part of a medically recommended treatment regimen in compliance with state law as stated in the October 2009 Memorandum by then Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, we will enforce the CSA vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involvingmarijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law. The Department’s investigative and prosecutorial resources will continue to be directed toward these objectives.

It is well settled that no state can authorize violations of federal law. Claims of compliance with state or local law may mask operations inconsistent with the terms, conditions or purposes of those federal laws.

Consistent with federal law, the Department maintains the authority to pursue criminal or civil actions for any CSA violations whenever it is determined that such legal action is warranted. This includes, but is not limited to, actions regarding the manufacturing, distribution or possession with intent to distribute any controlled substance including marijuana, as well as conduct to knowingly open, lease, rent, maintain, or use property for the manufacturing, storing, or distribution of controlled substances; and, conduct to conspire to commit any of the crimes set forth in the CSA. Federal money laundering and related statues, which prohibit a variety of different types of financial activity involving the movement of drug proceeds, may likewise be utilized. The government may also pursue civil injunctions, and the forfeiture of drug proceeds, property traceable to such proceeds, and property used to facilitate drug violations.

The Department is concerned about recent efforts to amend Maine’s Medical Marijuana Act, as the legislation involves conduct contrary to federal law and threatens the federal government’s efforts to regulate controlled substances. The Department of Justice remains firmly committed to enforcing the CSA in all states.

Any decision to pursue civil or criminal remedies will be made on a case by case basis and using the prosecutorial discretion vested in this office.

I hope this letter provides clarification and assists the State of Maine to make informed decisions regarding legislative efforts on the subject of medical marijuana.

Very truly yours,

/s/ Thomas E. Delahanty II
Thomas E. Delahanty II
United States Attorney

cc: ​William J. Schneider, Attorney General
​Jane Orbeton



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