Federal Ruling Offers Legal Dispensaries Greater Protection

In theory, so long as individuals and businesses are complying with their own state laws in the sale or consumption of marijuana, they are A-OK. Wait, not true? Thaaaats, right. The feds have cracked down on dispensaries seemingly minding their own biz, resulting in the shut down of one in particular, MAMM in Fairfax, CA. This pissed a lot of people – like Representatives Sam Farr (D-CA) Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) –  off. The two authored the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to last year’s federal spending bill, which prohibits the use of federal funds in interfering with state level marijuana programs.

Quick refresher: In 23 states and Washington, DC marijuana is legal for medicinal use. In Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado it’s legal for recreational use.  But at the federal level, marijuana is still classified as a schedule 1 illegal substance.

The current legislative environment has made putting the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment into practice a bit tricky. On one side, groups are asking that precious federal resources NOT be spent on going after businesses that are within the letter of their local laws.

But on the other side, a little team called the Department of Justice has been saying that the amendment is fine (kind of in that snappy, snarky way teenagers say fine), but – per feds at DOJ and DEA – the amendment only meant that they can’t interfere with state’s “ability” to roll out their own marijuana laws. And, per fed’s interpretation, individuals and dispensaries are not protected. Hence the crack down and close of shops like MAMM.

So this week a federal judge helped clear some things up allowing for MAMM to reopen  and furthering that those individuals or businesses that are consuming or providing medical cannabis legally cannot be criminally prosecuted.

Regarding the ruling made by Senior District Judge Charles R. Breyer, Marijuana Policy Project’s Dan Riffle wrote:

This is a big win for medical marijuana patients and their providers and a significant victory in our efforts to end the federal government’s war on marijuana.  Federal raids of legitimate medical marijuana businesses aren’t just stupid and wasteful, but also illegal.

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