One of the hardest things to resolve when dealing with medical marijuana and even recreational marijuana legalization is how people are still being sent to prison on marijuana related charges in states where the drug is legal. Part of the problem is that possession of any amount of marijuana is illegal under the United States Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (USCSA).
According to the USCSA, marijuana is a Schedule One controlled substance. This means that Congress considered marijuana to be highly dangerous, highly addictive, and a drug that has absolutely no valid medical use. Despite the fact that we now know that none of those attributes are true, marijuana has remained a Schedule One controlled dangerous substance for more than 40 decades. This is as a result of lobbying, issues with taxation, and utter nonsense like “Reefer Madness” which was an anti-marijuana propaganda film made in 1936. This movie shows how marijuana leads to murder.
In addition to the problems with marijuana still being illegal under federal law, many states have medical cannabis legislation passed through direct voter action, such as propositions and ballot initiatives, and then statutes passed by the state legislature trying to limit or undue what voters passed. For example, in the District of Columbia, it is perfectly legal to purchase and possess up to two ounces of marijuana for recreational use, but is illegal to sell any amount of marijuana or to possess any marijuana with intent to distribute. This makes no sense whatsoever, and if that isn’t bad enough, people are also being sent to prison.
According to a recent news feature from Reason.com, a medical marijuana seller is facing prison time in Washington State even though marijuana is legal there. This seller is being prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice, even though the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to a spending bill prevents the US Department of Justice from interfering with state law in terms of medical marijuana prosecutions. However, if the prosecutors claim the seller or dispensary owner wasn’t fully complying with the state law, they can argue that the amendment doesn’t apply to a particular defendant, and this is what is happened in this case.
In this case, local law says there can be no dispensaries; instead, there can be access points that service not more than 10 people, and they may not have more than 45 plants any given time. What many access point owners do is to treat their patients as temporary members, so, since they never have more than ten at a certain time, they are in compliance with the ambiguous law, according to many. This is common practice, but the Justice Department feels this is in appropriate and is trying to send the access point organizers to federal prison for 35 years.
In Los Angeles, the state is more open to people running dispensaries or medical marijuana cooperatives, but there is still federal law to deal with, and that can be very complicated. The best thing you can do to see if you are in compliance with the ever-changing laws is to speak with an experienced Orange County medical cannabis lawyer.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
More Blog Entries:
Delays in Medical Marijuana Programs Harm Patients- Will Emergency Access Be Granted? Nov. 11, 2015, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog