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Could This Loophole Eliminate Federal Marijuana Prosecutions?

This amendment blocks the Department of Justice from messing with your weed in legal states.

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The federal War on Cannabis hit a road bump recently after a major victory in California’s Ninth Circuit Court last month. A Congressional amendment last year stated that the Department of Justice could not allocate funding in 2015 and 2016 to states with regulations on the use, distribution, and possession of medical marijuana.

Lynette Shaw succeeded in overturning a nineteen year old civil injunction, making it illegal for her to work in the cannabis industry, by using the Congressional amendment as the basis for her argument.

A Ninth Circuit Judge agreed with Shaw, describing the government’s argument against her as “tortured.” The DOJ was appealing the decision, but, recognizing they would likely lose, moved instead to dismiss the case. Thus, Shaw can now run her own dispensary.

Her argument hinged on the notion that 2014’s Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment barred the DOJ from interfering with state’s medical marijuana regulations. Congress renewed the decision in 2015. Unfortunately, not only Shaw has suffered due to similar DOJ actions. 

‘‘It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my life when you see the government coming down on you for simply trying to be healthy,’’ Rolland Gregg, who was arrested for marijuana plants found on his property in Washington, told the Boston Globe. He argued the plants were medicinal and in line with state’s medical marijuana laws.

Rohrabacher-Farr bars the DOJ from targeting the medical cannabis industry in medical marijuana states.

“This to me, I believe, is the end of the medical marijuana war,” Shaw said. “We are ending that war—starting now.”

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is scheduled to clarify the amendment shortly.

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