Last week a major ruling occurred in a California federal court pertaining to medical cannabis providers across the nation. United States District Judge Charles R. Breyer ruled the Drug Enforcement Agency’s interpretation of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment defied logic and thus forcing the agency to stop harassing medical cannabis providers across the country.
The ruling came in response to the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, one of the oldest dispensaries in California, was being persecuted by the DEA. The amendment said the Justice Department is not allowed to use funds to ‘prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana’. The DEA interpreted it as a ruling pertaining to the actual states, not the individuals or businesses within it – a major misinterpretation to something that seems pretty straightforward.
“I’m very happy and I’m very relieved that I will get to return to my life’s work” Lynette Shaw, owner of the Marian Alliance for Medical Marijuana told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We won the war…I’m the first POW to be released.”
Shaw has been unemployed since 2011 when U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag closed the Marian Alliance for Medical Marijuana. The dispensary had about 9,000 patients at its peak, but has no immediate means of reopening.
“If I had a door to open, I would,” Shaw said.
Shaw’s extended unemployment led to her being harassed by multiple federal agencies with the IRS eventually ruling her surmounting tax debts un-collectable. She started a GoFundMe initiative to re-open the dispensary, though.
After battling the DEA for the past several years, medical cannabis dispensaries and providers can breathe a sigh of relief. Several medical cannabis advocates are rejoicing at the ruling. Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority praised the Justice Department being held accountable for harassment. Marijuana Policy Project Federal Policy Director Dan Riffle agreed with Angell.
“This is a big win for medical marijuana patients and their providers and a significant victory in our efforts to end the government’s war on marijuana,” Riffle wrote in a statement. “Federal raids of legitimate medical marijuana businesses aren’t just stupid and wasteful, but also illegal.”
One of the amendment’s congressional sponsors, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, spoke about his excitement at Judge Breyer’s ruling.
“After months of experiencing the Department of Justice’s refusal to follow the letter and intent of the ‘Rohrabacher-Farr’ provision, a federal court has finally reined them in,” Rohrabacher said in an email to The Washington Post. “Judge Breyer’s rebuke of DoJ’s ridiculous interpretation of our amendment is most welcomed.”
The ruling should prevent the Department of Justice from trying to interpret the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment in creative ways to get around the actual wording and ensure medical cannabis providers one less obstacle moving forward.