Much of the analysis surrounding the Truth in Trials Act – a medical marijuana bill introduced in the House this week – has focused on what it means for MMJ patients.
But the measure could have a potentially big impact on dispensary owners, marijuana growers and others involved in the medical cannabis industry as well.
The act, submitted by California Democratic Rep. Sam Farras as HR 6134, would “provide an affirmative defense for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various states, and for other purposes.” In essence, individuals facing federal prosecution for marijuana-related charges would be able to introduce evidence showing that they and/or the property in question comply with their state’s MMJ laws.
The measure would give MMJ business owners and workers facing charges a fighting chance in court – something they don’t have currently. Hundreds of medical marijuana professionals have been caught up in government raids and other actions taken by the federal government over the past year as part of a crackdown on the cannabis business. Because medical marijuana is still illegal under federal law, mounting an effective defense is difficult if not impossible.
Just as importantly, the bill would also help protect landlords who rent out buildings to medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation operations.
There are three other noteworthy sections of the bill that could help the MMJ industry:
– If a defendant is cleared of the charges, the government must return all seized property within 10 days after the court ruling.
– Federal official must keep – not destroy – marijuana taken as part of the investigation if the defendant claims a medical marijuana defense, pending resolution of any forfeiture claim.
-The government cannot seize plants being grown or stored under state MMJ laws.
Although the bill has initial bipartisan support, with 16 House Democrats and 3 House Republicans backing it, the chances of passage are slim. There’s still much resistance to medical marijuana at the federal level. However, bills like this continue and elevate the MMJ discussion among lawmakers and will pave the way for action in the future.