In a major victory for those facing prosecution under federal marijuana laws, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled unanimously that the federal government cannot prosecute persons who grow and distribute medicinal marijuana so long as they are in compliance with state law.
The case, U.S. v. McIntosh, is a consolidated appeal involving 10 different cases of interlocutory appeals and petitions for writs of mandamus that arose from three district courts in two states (California and Washington). All defendants in these cases were facing federal charges for violation of the Controlled Substances Act. Each sought dismissal of their indictments or else alternatively to enjoin their cases on a Congressional appropriations rider that would bar the Department of Justice from spending taxpayer money to prevent states from implementing their medical marijuana laws. You may recall that in the last two years, Congress prohibited the federal government from spending money in a way that would block or thwart state medical marijuana laws.
It was the position of federal prosecutors that this ban didn’t undercut their right to go after those who cultivate and distribute the drug under federal law – even in states where marijuana was legal. But now, the 9th Circuit has clearly issued a response to that, which is a resounding: No. Continue reading