According to a recent news article from AllGov California, a 52-year-old former marijuana dealer is currently unemployed and lives in a trailer on the property of his parents’ home in the state of New Mexico. As he waits, California politicians are hard at work trying to keep him out of prison.
In 2008, the United States Attorney’s Office prosecuted defendant for violating federal drug laws, and he was convicted. His conviction occurred approximately two years after he had opened a medical marijuana dispensary in California. City officials and members of the chamber of commerce had attended his grand opening.
As our Orange County medical cannabis attorneys can explain, his actions were legal under California state law, but the federal government decided to prosecute him under the United States Code. He was one of the first cooperative owners federal prosecutors targeted and arrested in California.
Defendant attempted to claim what he was doing was legal under California medical marijuana law, and he tried to use the term medical marijuana, but the trial judge did not allow him to argue either of these points. He was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison. He appealed his conviction, and that appeal is still pending. Several congress members and local politicians from California are supporting him.
One of the issues is a congressional mandate that United States Department of Justice (DOJ) not spend federal dollars to interfere with a state’s attempts to enforce or carry out state laws. DOJ, on the other hand, argues the prohibition on spending federal money does not include investigating, arresting, or prosecuting alleged violators of federal laws, but rather prevents them from trying to stop a state from executing their own state medical marijuana laws.
In response to this, defendant’s attorneys and several politicians have argued there is absolutely no ambiguity on the prohibition against spending federal money on marijuana enforcement, and there is no way to justify DOJ’s attempt to make it mean what they want it to.
Defendant’s attorneys attempted to file a separate civil case before a three-judge panel in the federal circuit court, but the judges refused to hear his case while the criminal appeal was still pending.
It should be noted, since defendant’s arrest and conviction, 36 states and the District of Columbia have enacted marijuana laws, which legalize or decriminalize marijuana in a way that is not in accordance with federal law. DOJ has said it will not interfere with a state’s decision to regulate marijuana within the limits of their borders, yet that is exactly what has happened in this case. The only difference in this case is it happened before the current administration gave DOJ such a hands-off mandate. It is likely he would not have been arrested under the current administration, but that does not seem to be of much help to defendant now.
If you have been arrested for a marijuana offense, including DUI marijuana, you should speak with an attorney who regularly represents defendants in your particular situation, because these cases often have complications not found with other offenses.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Meet California Lawmakers’ Favorite Marijuana Dealer, May 15, 2015, All Gov
More Blog Entries:
LA Man Arrested for Alleged Medical Marijuana Dispensary Murder, May 2, 2015, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog