The conflict between state medical marijuana laws and the Federal Controlled Substances Act has been playing itself out in courts across the country. In addition, Congress has passed an act to prohibit the Department of Justice from prosecuting patients and caregivers in medical marijuana states. The DEA and DOJ have taken the position that this appropriations act rider means nothing, and have argued as such in court on many occasions in courts nationwide.
Funny, they said we should "change the laws" if we wanted marijuana to be legal, so we legalized medical marijuana. Then they said marijuana was still illegal. So we got congress to protect medical marijuana states. Then the Department of Justice said these laws still didn't apply to them.
In December 2014, Congress passed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, as amended by the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which President Obama signed. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to that Act was again passed in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, signed into law on September 29, 2016, continued December 10, 2016, and again for an additional week on April 28, 2017. On May 5, 2017, the Rohrabacher-Blumenaur amendment was renewed until September 30, 2017, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, signed into law by President Trump. On September 8, 2017, the amendment was renewed by Congress until December 8 when Congress passed H.Res.502.
Section 537, Title V of Division B of the bill states the following:Quote
SEC. 537. None of the funds made available in this Act to theDepartment of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin,and Wyoming, or with respect to the District of Columbia, Guam,or Puerto Rico, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017
Our client hired us because he felt that his medical marijuana card protected him from this marijuana ticket that a park ranger gave him for possessing his medical marijuana in a national forest park in Michigan.
Kayaks? Canoes? The Department of Justice is blind.
We filed a motion to dismiss based on the the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment to the Appropriations Act (the appropriations act is how the legislature funds the government departments). The Department of Justice prosecutor fought us on all counts of our motion, forcing us to dig our way out of a bunch of different rabbit holes of other medical marijuana cases across the country.
Ultimately, after doing the proper research , filing motions, writing briefs and responses to opposition replies, we finally got the victory our client deserved. The magistrate agreed with all of our well thought out arguments and dismissed the ticket.
All this over "three marijuana joints".
At least our client was lucky! Noted poet, activist and Michigan native John Sinclair was given 10 years for 2 joints of marijuana in Ann Arbor of all places.
Such an injustice brought John Lennon and Yoko Onno to Michigan where he made a song for John Sinclair to protest and demand his freedom from unjust marijuana laws.
John Sinclair sat in jail for years before his appeal was finally heard by the Michigan Supreme Court which overturned the draconian marijuana laws. Marijuana was legal again, until the Michigan Legislature reinstated the marijuana laws a few months later.
Lessons for all patients and caregivers:
- Never talk to the police (or park rangers)! Never answer questions! Ask if you are free to go, and then go if they say yes! Always ask for an attorney to be present during any questioning. Always call your lawyer before talking with the police!
- Never consent to a search! Without consent, the police officer would have no cause to search you.
- Never smoke in public! The park is a public place.
Do not take marijuana with you on or in:
- Any School Grounds or school bus.
- Any Correctional facility, or any state or federal government buildings
- Any Federal Park or land, including border areas with Canada.
- Any Native American Reservation or Tribal Land.
- If you want the protections of the MMMA, you MUST stay in compliance with the MMMA. Plant limits, weight limits, etc. Being outside the boundaries of the MMMA could land you in jail.