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Court Bans DEA from Prosecuting Medical Marijuana Cases

In a biting decision, a California Federal Court recently ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s interpretation of a medical marijuana law has been completely incorrect. The recent law, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, bans the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent States from passing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution and possession of medical marijuana. Basically, the law prevents the DEA from using federal funds to go after medical marijuana dispensaries that comply with their State’s laws.

The DEA incorrectly interpreted this law by contending that the law only prevented the DEA from going after the State itself, not the individuals or businesses that operate the dispensaries. So, the DEA continued to prosecute individuals and businesses even though those businesses complied with the laws in their State.

In the decision, Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court in Northern California held that the DEA's interpretation defied the “language and logic” of the bill and “tortures the plain meaning of the statute.” The Judge characterized the Department of Justice’s reading of the amendment as “counterintuitive and opportunistic.”

The end result of the decision is a ban on prosecuting medical marijuana cases where no State law is broken. This decision may play an important role in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey as medical marijuana laws continue to be enacted and enforced.

To read the full decision, click here: United States v. Marin Alliance for Med. Marijuana, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103619 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 4, 2016).

If you or someone you know has been charged with a marijuana-related offense, contact Attorney Michael F. Niznik at 267-589-0601 for a free consultation.

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