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Funding Limits on Federal Prosecutions of State-Legal Medical Marijuana


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February 4, 2022

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Federal law generally prohibits the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. Nonetheless, in recent years, many states have repealed state law criminal prohibitions on some marijuana-related activities, and medical and recreational cannabis businesses now
operate openly in some parts of the United States.

In response to the growing disparity between state and federal law, Congress has enacted appropriations legislation prohibiting the Department of Justice (DOJ) from expending appropriated funds to prevent states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws.

Federal courts have interpreted the appropriations rider to prohibit DOJ from bringing criminal drug prosecutions against certain private individuals and entities involved in the state-legal medical marijuana industry, but they have differed as to the scope of conduct the rider shields from prosecution.

This Legal Sidebar first outlines the legal status of marijuana under federal and state law. It then discusses the medical marijuana appropriations rider and analyzes how federal courts have interpreted the provision. The Sidebar closes with key considerations for Congress related to the appropriations rider and
the disparity between federal and state marijuana policy more generally.

Federal and State Marijuana Regulation

In recent years, a significant divide has developed between federal and state marijuana law. On the federal side, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) imposes tringent regulations on the cannabis plant and many of its derivatives. Unless an exception applies, the CSA classifies cannabis and its derivatives as
“marihuana.” (The statute uses an archaic spelling; this Sidebar uses the more common spelling, “marijuana.”) Congress classified marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance when it enacted the CSA, reflecting a legislative determination that the substance has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and “a lack of accepted safety for use … under medical supervision.” Because Congress has made that determination, Schedule I substances may not be dispensed by prescription in compliance with federal law. In contrast, controlled substances in Schedules II through V have accepted medical uses and pose progressively lower risks of abuse and dependence. Unlike substances in Schedule I, those substances may be dispensed by prescription for medical purposes.

Congressional Research Service

Congressional Research Service 2 thru 5

There’s more read the rest here —> Document

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The post Funding Limits on Federal Prosecutions of State-Legal Medical Marijuana appeared first on Komorn Law.

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