9th circuit

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U.S.: DOJ Accepts Decision Saying It Can't Target State-Legal Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Department of Justice has abandoned its appeal of a ruling that said federal prosecutors are breaking the law when they go after medical marijuana dispensaries who are in compliance with state law.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer issued the ruling last October, when he said that enforcing an injunction against a state-legal dispensary would violate a spending rider prohibiting the Justice Department from spending funds to interfere with state laws allowing medicinal use of cannabis, reports Jacob Sullum at Reason.

Breyer's ruling is left in force by the ruling in the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM) casea, without establishing a circuit-wide precedent. The DOJ's request to abandon the appeal probably came about because it feared the 9th Circuit would agree with Breyer's reading of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which says the DOJ may not used funds to "prevent" states from "implementing" their medical marijuana laws.

The DOJ argued that prosecuting dispensaries, seizing their property, and shutting them down does not prevent implementation of laws which allow them. Judge Breyer rightly ruled that interpretation "defies language and logic."

California: Convicted Medical Marijuana Seller Gets Congressional Allies In Legal Appeal

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Former medical marijuana dispensary owner Charles Lynch has for years waged a legal battle against federal prosecutors who want to send him to prison. Last week, he finally got help from some unexpected and influential allies: U.S. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) and Sam Farr (D-Carmel).

Reps. Rohrabacher and Farr filed a strongly worded brief with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals accusing prosecutors of flouting federal law as they go after Lynch, reports Joel Rubin at The Los Angeles Times. The Congressmen called on the court to end the case against Lynch.

Rohrabacher and Farr were late last year the authors of an amendment to federal law meant to prevent the Justice Department from interfering in states where medical marijuana is legal. The amendment, receiving unusually broad bipartisan support in December, was written into a government spending bill.

The amendment prevents the Justice Department from using federal funds in a way that hinders states "from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana."

It was assumed federal prosecutors would have no choice but to abandon cases such as the one against Lynch. But Justice Department officials have persisted in their war on marijuana. In general, they've argued the spending ban forbids them from interfering with officials carrying out state law, but doesn't stop them from going after sellers.

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