Federal Court Rules Against DEA’s Persecution Of Medical Pot Businesses

By May Wilkerson 10/23/15

Medical marijuana businesses won a big battle in their fight against the DEA.

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This week marks a big win for marijuana businesses in their ongoing battle with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

An amendment added to last year’s spending bill seemed like it might stop the DEA from going after these businesses. In states where medical marijuana is legal, the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment would bar the Justice Department from using federal funds to "prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana."

However, the DEA continued to raid medical marijuana businesses, claiming that the bill applied only to actual states, not human beings or businesses that sell pot. But a federal court in California ruled this week that the DEA's interpretation of the bill "defies language and logic," "tortures the plain meaning of the statute," and is "at odds with fundamental notions of the rule of law."

The court’s ruling could prevent the DEA from continuing to prosecute medical marijuana businesses, as long as they are in compliance with the law.

Pro-pot advocates in California are celebrating the ruling, which could signal an end to the DEA’s meddling with the state’s new medical marijuana program. "It's great to see the judicial branch finally starting to hold the Justice Department accountable for its willful violation of Congress's intent to end federal interference with state medical marijuana laws," said Tom Angell of pot advocacy group Marijuana Majority.

Beyond California, the ruling is good news for medical marijuana businesses and their patients in all 23 states with medical marijuana businesses, since it could prevent the Justice Department from attempting to creatively interpret the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment going forward.

"This is a big win for medical marijuana patients and their providers, and a significant victory in our efforts to end the federal government’s war on marijuana," said Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Federal raids of legitimate medical marijuana businesses aren’t just stupid and wasteful, but also illegal."

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.