Ballot measures in Colorado, Washington and Oregon seek to legalize pot, a decision that would be at odds with the federal Controlled Substances Act, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug with the likes of LSD and heroin.
A group of former U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officials has written to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, imploring him to speak out publicly against the law, but the U.S. Justice Department has been silent on the issue thus far, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
In 2009, David Ogden, then a deputy U.S. attorney general, clarified the Justice Department's official stance in a memo to U.S. attorneys across the country. In the memo, he pointed out cracking down on marijuana trafficking was still a top priority, noting it is the most profitable drug for the Mexican drug cartels.
But in a nod to the number of states where marijuana use is legal, particularly California where it is permissible for medicinal purposes, he urged prosecutors to focus federal resources elsewhere.
"Prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers ... who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources," Ogden wrote.