New Jersey's medical marijuana program is not likely to run afoul of federal law if its operation is kept small and controlled and doesn't allow growers to create “industrial marijuana cultivation centers,'' the Justice Department says, according to the Newark Star Ledger. A Justice Department letter arrived more than two months after state Attorney General Paula Dow asked the Obama administration whether New Jersey's medical marijuana program would violate federal law and whether those licensed to sell or grow marijuana and the state workers who will administer the program would face arrest.
The Obama administration said in 2009 memo that going after medical marijuana users and their caregivers would not be a priority for federal law enforcement. Deputy Attorney General James Cole says that remains true. The letter also says the administration is concerned about the increase of large-scale growers and sellers. “There has been an increase in the scope of commercial cultivation, sale, distribution, and use of marijuana for purported medical purposes,” the letter says. “For example, within the past 12 months, several jurisdictions have considered or enacted legislation to authorize multiple, large-scale, privately operated industrial marijuana cultivation centers. Some of these planned facilities have revenue projections of millions of dollars based on the planned cultivation of tens of thousands of cannabis plants.”