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On Monday, a federal court in California ruled that federal authorities cannot close medical marijuana dispensaries that operate within the boundaries of state law, Time reports (White, Time, 10/20).
Details of Case
At issue in the case was the Drug Enforcement Administration's interpretation of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to last year's federal government spending bill.
Under the amendment, which lists the states with medical marijuana laws, the Department of Justice cannot use federal funds to stop such states from implementing their own laws to "authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana" (Ingraham, "Wonkblog,"Washington Post, 10/20). However, DOJ interpreted the amendment to mean they were only barred from taking action against the state, not medical marijuana-related businesses and individuals who deal with the implementation of such laws, according to a leaked memo.
According to Time, DEA's enforcement resulted in the closure of many California dispensaries.
Details of Ruling
In his decision, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ruled that DOJ cannot use federal money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws and practices (Time, 10/20).
Breyer said the federal government's interpretation of the amendment "defies language and logic" and was "at odds with fundamental notions of the rule of law."
The decision could affect DEA's ability to prosecute future federal medical marijuana cases ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 10/20).