In an effort to make the most efficient use of limited resources, the DOJ announced that prosecutorial priorities should not target "individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana." Specifically, individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use medical marijuana and the caregivers who provide the medical marijuana in accordance with state law should not be the focus of federal prosecution.
The memo clarified that "prosecution of commercial enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana for profit continues to be an enforcement priority." It is also explicitly stated that the memo "does not 'legalize' marijuana or provide a legal defense to a violation of federal law."
Bruce Mirken, Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), stated the following as reported by the New York Times in an Oct. 18, 2009 article titled "New Medical Marijuana Policy Issued," posted on nytimes.com:
"This is a major step forward. This change in policy moves the federal government dramatically toward respecting scientific and practical reality."