Medical Marijuana and the Federal Government
In late December 2014, journalists and bloggers advocating medical marijuana rejoiced at a new found topic on the subject to write about. A clause in the (then) newly passed roughly 1600 page federal spending measure outlined a so called ‘ceasefire’ on the federal war on medical marijuana. Said passage stated that “None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used” in relation to a large number of 35 or so states from “preventing such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”. Multitudes of articles written by generally credible sources stated that the federal government quietly ended the war on cannabis. However this couldn’t be farther from the truth. One such article being written by Evan Halper of the LA Times. He wrote so surely that the provision in the federal spending measure “effectively ends the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana”. A year has passed and some, but not much has changed in how the federal government prosecutes state medical marijuana doctors, dispensaries, and patients. He went on to write only a week or so ago that “A year after Congress voted to end war on medical pot, raids continue in California”. So obviously the end of federal medical marijuana prohibition wasn’t as effective as he originally thought.
Since the enrollment of medical marijuana, suppliers and patients alike have been at ‘war’ per say with the federal government. Although many states have legalized it medically, marijuana continues to be illegal on a federal level. The DEA (and other federal and state agencies) have led numerous raids, arrests, and lawsuits against those in the medical industry.
Since it began it had been an uphill battle to uphold laws that some states had enacted, due to the extreme federal prosecution of doing so. In 2009 the U.S department of justice stated that they would no longer make going after the medical marijuana industry a priority. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr stated that “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” Since then the number of arrests and raids pertaining to medical marijuana have dropped dramatically across the board.
Although unfortunately prosecution does still happen. Depending on what medical state you are referring to, there are potentialities of loopholes that federal prosecutors can exploit. One such state is California. Although the current Governor (Jerry Brown) has signed multiple measures to clarify the state’s medical marijuana laws and remove any loopholes that might be found; said measures won’t be going into effect until 2018. Because of said loopholes some raids in California are still taking place as they are not “in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws”. One such case was in mid June of 2015, however those leading the raid(s) seem to be slipping some. Currently there is a lawsuit taking place filed by Matthew Pappas on behalf of Sky High Holistic medical center. The suit is on the grounds of the police officers taking excessive and unconstitutional actions during the raid. Said officers were even caught on camera eating what looked like a medical pot brownie. Hopefully the case will turn out well and other officers and federal agents might be discouraged from taking further action against those involved with medical marijuana.