Feds Can't Spend Money To Prosecute
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Feds Can't Spend Money To Prosecute
Posted by CN Staff on August 16, 2016 at 16:37:00 PT
By Maura Dolan
Source: Los Angeles Times
Washington, D.C. -- A U.S. appeals court decided unanimously Tuesday that the federal government may not prosecute people who grow and distribute medical marijuana if they are complying with state laws. Congress in the last two years has banned the federal government from spending money in ways that would thwart state medical marijuana laws.The U.S. Department of Justice contended the ban did not undermine its right to prosecute growers and distributors under federal law, even in states where medical cannabis was legal.
But in the first federal appellate decision on the subject, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban prevents the government from spending money on prosecutions of people whose marijuana activities were legal in their states.Still, the ruling was not a complete victory for medical marijuana activists.Rather than simply ordering lower courts to dismiss criminal charges, the 9th Circuit said defendants must be given the opportunity to show their actions complied with state law.The court decision involved 10 appeals brought by dispensaries and growers in California and the state of Washington.While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the congressional bans — in the form of appropriation riders passed annually — stymie the government’s efforts to close down dispensaries, the court said.Tuesday’s ruling affects only the Western states and territories of the 9th Circuit, but the decision is likely to influence other circuits. Dozens of states authorize cannabis for medical useJudge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, writing for the court, warned that the the law remains subject to change by Congress.“Congress could appropriate funds for such prosecutions tomorrow,” the Reagan appointee wrote.“Conversely,” he said, “this temporary lack of funds could become a more permanent lack of funds if Congress continues to include the same rider in future appropriations bills.”The federal government could appeal Tuesday’s decision to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit or up to the U.S. Supreme Court.“I hope this is the beginning of the end of federal prosecutions of state medical marijuana dispensary operators, growers and patients,” said Marc J. Zilversmit, who represented a Los Angeles dispensary in one of the cases before the court.The federal government recently dropped a civil forfeiture action against a huge medical cannabis dispensary in Oakland, but Zilversmit said the Department of Justice has fought hard to continue with criminal prosecutions.One of the cases before the court involved five defendants accused of running four marijuana stores in Los Angeles County and growing the plants at indoor locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco.Four other defendants were charged with manufacturing marijuana after authorities said they found 30,000 plants on 60 acres of land in Fresno County.In Washington, five people were charged with growing more than 562 marijuana plants.The defendants argued that the federal government was spending money that was not appropriated by Congress in violation of the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution. They will now be entitled to present evidence in court to try to show that state laws authorized their actions.O’Scannlain called the problems with the prosecutions “temporal.”“The government had authority to initiate criminal proceedings, and it merely lost funds to continue them,” he wrote. UPDATES:2:36 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details from the decision.This article was originally published at 1:20 p.m.Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author: Maura DolanPublished: August 16, 2016Copyright: 2016 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite:  Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on August 17, 2016 at 10:38:39 PT
From the 2nd article:
"Prop 215 did not legalize the sale of marijuana, but it did give ill or disabled people of any age the right to grow and share the plant and its derivatives on a not-for-profit basis. They could see a doctor of their choice, who could approve medical marijuana for a vast panoply of conditions; and they were assured of safe and affordable access to the plant at a nearby cooperative not-for-profit dispensary, or in their own backyards. As clarified by the 2008 Attorney General’s Guidelines, Prop 215 allowed reimbursement for the labor, costs and skill necessary to grow and distribute medical marijuana; and it allowed distribution through a “storefront dispensing collective.” However, the sale of marijuana for corporate profit remained illegal. Big Pharma and affiliates were thus blocked from entering the field.At the end of 2015 (effective 2016), the California state legislature over-rode Prop 215 with MMRSA – the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act of 2015/16 – which effectively rewrites the Health Code pertaining to medical marijuana. Opponents contend that MMRSA is unconstitutional, since a voter initiative cannot be changed by legislative action unless it so provides. And that is why its backers need AUMA, a voter initiative that validates MMRSA in its fine print. In combination with stricter California Medical Association rules for enforcement, MMRSA effectively moves medical marijuana therapy from the wholistic plant to a pharmaceutical derivative, one that must follow an AUMA or American Pharmaceutical Association mode of delivery. MMRSA turns the right to cultivate into a revocable privilege to grow, contingent on local rules. The right to choose one’s own doctor is also eliminated.Critics note that of the hundreds of millions in tax revenues that AUMA is expected to generate from marijuana and marijuana-related products, not a penny will go to the California general fund. That means no money for California’s public schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure. Instead, it will go into a giant slush fund controlled by AUMA’s “Marijuana Control Board,” to be spent first for its own administration, then for its own law enforcement, then for penal and judicial program expenditures.Law enforcement and penalties will continue to be big business, since AUMA legalizes marijuana use only for people over 21 and makes access so difficult and expensive that even adults could be tempted to turn to the black market. “Legalization” through AUMA will chiefly serve a petrochemical/pharmaceutical complex bent on controlling all farming and plant life globally."
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on August 17, 2016 at 10:26:14 PT
AUMA: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?
Now read this articles!
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