Absent any extremely rare federal research/supply approvals, the cultivation, manufacture and trafficking of marijuana remains a violation of federal law pursuant to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. 

However, brand-new guidance from the U.S. Dept. of Justice on 29 AUG 13 (http://www.scribd.com/doc/164023725/DOJ-Memorandum-on-Marijuana-Laws) gives  a conditional green light to marijuana businesses operating in compliance with their respective state statutes.  This is a major clarification.  There are still federal prosecution “triggers” that must be avoided, but the path to maintaining full compliance is much clearer now.

The current federal-state conflict count for medical marijuana (MMJ) regulation is 20 states, plus D.C., and for recreational use, WA & CO.

In another federal-state clash, eight states allow cultivation of industrial hemp.  Five states define hemp as < 0.3% THC (CO, ME, MT, ND & VT), two use < 1.0% THC (KY & WV), and one doesn’t specify (OR). 

Your personal, informed tolerance for known, real legal risks will dictate your course and timing of action.  Arm yourself with all the information you can before making your decision.  Already operating businesses need to revisit their compliance and may need to tighten things up.

It is critical to know the theoretical and real-life risks versus theoretical and real-life rewards in the direct cultivation, manufacture and trafficking of marijuana.  It is especially critical to know what enhanced penalties are and how to avoid their triggers – it is this that puts you on the county and federal law enforcement radars.

Our nation’s marijuana prohibition is an embarrassment and the most charitable explanation is we are burying our heads in the sand and simply don’t know how to move forward.  Prohibitionists are a small, but very vocal minority.

In the interminable meantime until enough people in the country finally wake up, thousands of lives continue to be vastly more adversely affected by our unjust marijuana laws than by any negative side-effects from the use of the plant itself.

However, there is cause for hope that the untenable conflict between state and federal law will be resolved very soon – at least for Washington and Colorado (both currently scheduled to go live in early 2014). 

WA & CO do NOT want to commence recreational sales prior to resolution of the Schedule I classification.  Both are lobbying the Obama administration and Congress hard to act now and clear the way for banking, merchant services and larger grows without risk of interdiction by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in concert with local sheriff’s office drug task forces.

In a significant statement on Monday, 12 August 2013, Attorney General Holder gave policy guidance to prosecutors to use diversion strategies rather than incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders not involved in organized crime and cartels.

This certainly was a major step in the right direction and is a preliminary step to the administration finally removing cannabis from Schedule I.

According to the Congressional Research Service, federal prison inmate population has increased over 400% since the “drug war” was started in 1970 by President Nixon against protestors of the hugely unpopular, culturally-toxic and painfully divisive war in Vietnam, many of whom were marijuana friendly.  Some of us on the RSS team were there, draft and all.


The “drug war” was further escalated by President and Mrs. Reagan.