Appeals court: DOJ can’t prosecute state-legal MJ businesses

In a big win for licensed marijuana companies, a federal appeals court in California ruled Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Justice can’t spend money to prosecute cannabis businesses that comply with state laws.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the DOJ must comply with the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which Congress first adopted in December 2014. It prohibits the DOJ from spending federal funds to interfere with the implementation of state marijuana laws.

The case wound up before the court, which covers nine western states, because defendants in 10 cannabis-related cases in California and Washington State all relied on the same defense strategy: that the DOJ was acting illegally because of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, Reuters reported.

The 9th Circuit Court basically agreed, and sent the cases back to lower courts to determine whether or not each defendant had strictly complied with state law.

The ruling, however, came with a warning from one of the court’s three judges.

“Congress could restore funding tomorrow, a year from now, or four years from now,” wrote Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, “and the government could then prosecute these individuals who committed offenses while the government lacked funding.”

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4 comments on “Appeals court: DOJ can’t prosecute state-legal MJ businesses
  1. Cactus Bill on

    Thus, the tenuous environment for business investment in the MJ industry remains.
    The battle is far from over, no matter how much progress has been made over the past few years. The forces that resist full national MJ legalization are strong, and fully entrenched.
    Further than “re-listing”, it’s gonna need the US Congress and Senate lawmaking, signed by whoever is President.
    This effort will require much more of a PR outreach than has been attempted so far.
    In unity there is strength, although I don’t at this moment see much “unity” amongst the many factions of the industry.

  2. Jim Boynton on

    That the DOJ -due to the ridiculous stand of the DEA to maintain schedule 1 narcotic status for cannabis!!!- can hold and entire industry hostage to their whim and funding, only serves to prove how this entire government operates on a quid pro quo basis and that big liquor, big pharma and lately even big grow ops happily provide the “quid”. Unconscionable.

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