According to the US Justice Department, a restriction on the enforcement of medical marijuana put into place by Congress is not applicable to individual cases.
A spending bill amended by Congress this past December was considered a big win until this clarification of the amendment from the Justice Department. The effect of this particular bill was to render the Justice Department unable to interfere with the implementation of laws in states that permit the sale of medical marijuana – not prohibit prosecution of specific cases relevant to medical marijuana.
This is most evident with active proceedings against three dispensaries that are located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush stated on Wednesday that the amendment was not meant to have any effect on cases that pertain to organizations or individuals.
Instead, it was supposed to prevent the Justice Department from interfering with states’ legal proceedings and “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws.”
The Justice Department within the San Francisco Bay area is particularly interested in the narrow interpretation of the law. In this jurisdiction, the Justice Department has gone through forfeiture proceedings that were directed against three different medical marijuana dispensaries, all of whom were assessed to be violating federal law with their actions.
Henry Wykowski, an attorney who is defending the dispensaries, stated as follows: “I think that the amendment is vague and it hasn’t been interpreted by any court yet. But the language can be read more broadly to encompass such prosecutions.”
The fact that the amendment is so new makes it subject to nearly infinite interpretations – creating a dangerous ‘make it up as we go’ legal approach.