A New Federal Memo Questions Medical Marijuana

Boulder leaders are starting to wonder about the possibility of prosecution when it comes to medical marijuana due to a recent federal memo released by U.S. Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole.

The memo states that those, “who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities” violate federal law. This has some in Boulder – including Councilwoman KC Becker – wondering if Boulder could be held liable for allowing the businesses within the city.

"State laws or local ordinances are not a defense to civil or criminal enforcement of federal law," according to Cole.

Boulder officials allowed the industry in the city because they believed the feds would defer to local regulations on the issue. The new memo brings this into question. The city of Boulder’s rules are considered among some of the state’s most comprehensive with tight rules.

The memo troubles some because its language states that those who are involved in any “transactions” related to the industry are committing federal money laundering and fly in the face of other fed regulations. This worries them because the city collects taxes from such businesses, as well as other monies.

The memo does also state that individual people who are patients shouldn’t worry about federal prosecution.


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