As more states legalize marijuana for medical or personal use, the conflict with between state and federal law grows. Approximately half of the states offer some type of medical access to marijuana or related products. Four states legalized recreational use. Meanwhile, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug and entirely illegal for any purpose under federal law. People lawfully using marijuana within their states are violating federal law, opening themselves up to prosecution. But in the western region of the U.S., people no longer have to worry about facing federal medical marijuana prosecutions thanks to a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The Court’s Decision
In August, the Ninth Circuit Court banned the U.S. Department of Justice from prosecuting medical marijuana cases in situations where no state laws were broken. The DOJ must now show that its 10 pending cases in California or Washington involve a violation of state laws – not simply federal laws.
This is a major victory for medical marijuana users and state’s rights. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the appeals court for district courts in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. It is the largest court of appeals in the U.S., which means its decisions are far-reaching and closely watched. Historically, individuals using marijuana well-within their state’s laws still had reason to fear federal repercussions. Now, marijuana users throughout the Ninth Circuit Court’s jurisdiction are free to use medical marijuana within their state’s regulations and without fear of prosecution.
Congress Wants Fewer Lawsuits
This decision not only follows Congress’s interests, but it also follows federal law. At the end of 2014, Congress provided that the DOJ could not use its funds to prevent states for implementing their own medical marijuana laws. The Ninth Circuit Court held that this regulation meant the DOJ cannot prosecute individuals for medical marijuana use that is legal within that person’s state. By bringing these medical marijuana cases, the DOJ was inhibiting the state’s right to legalize medical marijuana.
A San Diego Criminal Attorney Can Help
If you currently face a federal crime because of your medical marijuana use, call the experienced medical marijuana attorney Jessica McElfresh with McElfresh Law at (858) 756-7107. Jessica has years of experience defending people against marijuana-related charges, and she will strive for the best possible outcome in your case.
Facing criminal charges can be a difficult time, but you can trust that Jessica is on your side. She devotes a significant portion of her practice to medical marijuana-related issues and advocates for medical marijuana policies and drug reform.