The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has been told by a federal court in California to leave medical marijuana dispensaries alone.
According to the court, the DEA’s interpretation of a medical marijuana bill that was recently passed “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 cited the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that was a part of the government spending bill from last year. This amendment says that the Department of Justice cannot use federal funds to prevent medical marijuana states from providing medicinal cannabis to patients in any way.
While most thought that the legislation would force the DEA to leave medical marijuana dispensaries alone, the Justice Department interpreted it differently. According to the Department of Justice, the amendment only prevents the department from taking action against individual states. Based on that interpretation, individuals and businesses are fair game for prosecution.
This questionable interpretation by the Justice Department infuriated sponsors of the amendment, and they demanded that the court examine the situation. After reviewing the case, Federal Judge Charles Breyer of the United States District Court in Northern California said that the interpretation provided by the Department of Justice was out of line.
Breyer wrote that the Justice Department’s interpretation of the amendment was “counterintuitive and opportunistic".
Meanwhile, supporters of medical marijuana are thrilled with the decision.
Representative of Marijuana Majority Tom Angell said, “"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.”
Representative of the Marijuana Policy Project Dan Riffle agreed by writing, “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. Federal raids of legitimate medical marijuana businesses aren’t just stupid and wasteful, but also illegal."
Now, the medical marijuana dispensaries can rest easy in knowing that they are legally protected by federal courts of law.
The DEA and the Department of Justice have not commented on the issue.