Last updated on: 10/30/2009 | Author:

US Department of Justice (DOJ) Biography

Con to the question "Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option?"

The Department of Justice is the the central agency for enforcement of federal laws, and marijuana is illegal under federal law.

[Editor’s Note: Althought medical marijuana is illegal under federal law, the DOJ has decided to make prosecution of patients using it in accordance with state laws a low priority. The DOJ announced their new guidelines for medical marijuana in an Oct. 19, 2009 press release:

“Attorney General Eric Holder today announced formal guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that have enacted laws authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The guidelines make clear that the focus of federal resources should not be on individuals whose actions are in compliance with existing state laws, while underscoring that the Department will continue to prosecute people whose claims of compliance with state and local law conceal operations inconsistent with the terms, conditions, or purposes of those laws.”

“Attorney General Announces Formal Medical Marijuana Guidelines,” DOJ press release,, Oct.19, 2009]


“Officially coming into existence on July 1, 1870, the Department of Justice, pursuant to the 1870 Act [Act to Establish the Department of Justice, ch. 150, 16 Stat. 162], was to handle the legal business of the United States. The Act gave the Department control over all criminal prosecutions and civil suits in which the United States had an interest. In addition, the Act gave the Attorney General and the Department control over federal law enforcement. To assist the Attorney General, the 1870 Act created the Office of the Solicitor General.

The 1870 Act is the foundation upon which the Department of Justice still rests. However, the structure of the Department of Justice has changed over the years, with the addition of the Deputy Attorneys General and the formation of the Divisions. Unchanged is the steadily increasing workload of the Department. It has become the world’s largest law office and the central agency for enforcement of federal laws.”

“Statutory Authority,” DOJ website (accessed Sep. 18, 2007)


“To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide Federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; to administer and enforce the Nation’s immigration laws fairly and effectively; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”

“Mission Statement,” DOJ website (accessed Sep. 18, 2007)

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