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Victory for an MMMA patient in a Federal Park with his medical marijuana.

Michael Komorn


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:


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:

  1. 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!
  2. Never consent to a search! Without consent, the police officer would have no cause to search you.
  3. Never smoke in public! The park is a public place.
  4. Do not take marijuana with you on or in:
    1. Any School Grounds or school bus.
    2. Any Correctional facility, or any state or federal government buildings
    3. Any Federal Park or land, including border areas with Canada.
    4. Any Native American Reservation or Tribal Land.
  5. 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.


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