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U.S. Won't Prosecute Legal Medical Marijuana Distributors

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The U.S. Justice Department won't prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries operating legally in more than a dozen states, a decision that represents a major shift from the Bush administration.

Medical marijuana advocates and civil libertarians welcomed the change in federal drug policy, announced Wednesday by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the Los Angeles Times reported. There had been great speculation about how the Obama administration would handle the issue.

"Whatever questions are left, today's comments clearly represent a change in policy out of Washington. (Holder is) sending a clear message to the DEA," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

The Bush administration went after medical marijuana distributors even in states where medical marijuana use was legal for cancer patients and those with chronic pain or other serious conditions.

Holder said the Obama administration will still target people and organizations operating in violation of both federal and state law, the Times reported.

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