Marijuana executives can still face federal charges, court rules

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Marijuana business owners remain subject to criminal charges from the U.S. government despite a longstanding federal amendment that bars the Department of Justice from interfering with medical cannabis laws and operations, an appellate court ruled this week.

According to Reuters, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that two licensed cannabis growers in Maine can be held accountable under federal marijuana laws despite the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment (now known as the Joyce-Blumenauer Amendment) because they allegedly engaged in “blatantly illegitimate activity.”

Judge William Kayatta wrote in an opinion for the court that the DOJ could prosecute the defendants in question – Brian Bilodeau and Tyler Poland – because they used Maine’s MMJ laws as a cover to operate illegally by selling marijuana into the underground market.

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Both Bilodeau and Poland were indicted in 2018, and Kayatta noted in his ruling that the evidence showed the pair used Maine’s MMJ licenses as “facades” for their illegal activity.

The ruling could serve as a wake-up call for many marijuana businesses that federal authorities are still keeping an eye on the industry, even if they’re still mostly hands-off.