By Matt Agorist
Last week, the tyrannical DEA doubled down on their asinine and immoral decision to classify marijuana as having no medical value — promising to continue to kidnap, cage, and kill people for possessing it. However, in a major victory, and a well-deserved slap to the face of the DEA, a federal appeals court just ruled that prosecuting medical marijuana users and growers is now banned.
The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals’ three-judge panel has ruled that the Department of Justice (DOJ) cannot spend budget money to prosecute people who grow, sell or use medical marijuana — if they comply with state law.
The 25 states who’ve found themselves subject to continuous raids — in spite of medical pot being legal — will now have solace in the fact that the DOJ can no longer throw money at the futile and immoral practice of arresting people for a plant.
“If the federal government prosecutes such individuals, it has prevented the state from giving practical effect to its law,” Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for the court.
The ruling stems from a 2014 congressional budget rule saying that the DOJ cannot use funds to prevent US states “from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
Even more encouraging than halting future prosecutions, is the fact that this will help those who’ve already been locked up or charged for having marijuana. By upholding this ruling, those who have been prosecuted can now invoke it to challenge their prosecutions.
The Ninth Circuit held (in United States v. McIntosh) that federal judges should enforce this law by stopping prosecutions for conduct that is authorized by state medical marijuana laws:
Appellants complain that DOJ is spending funds that have not been appropriated by Congress in violation of the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution. See U.S. Const. art. I, § 9, cl. 7 (“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law ….”)…. [I]f DOJ were spending money in violation of [§ 542], it would be drawing funds from the Treasury without authorization by statute and thus violating the Appropriations Clause. That Clause constitutes a separation-of-powers limitation that Appellants can invoke to challenge their prosecutions….
Marc Zilversmit, a San Francisco lawyer representing Steve McIntosh of Los Angeles, said, “This could be the beginning of the end of the federal war on medical marijuana.”
According to KRON, McIntosh is one of five people being prosecuted in federal court in San Francisco for allegedly operating four Southern California marijuana stores and five indoor marijuana grows in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas.
These five people are now demanding that their sentences be overturned and their federal charges dismissed.
However, Judge O’Scannlain specifically stressed that the court’s unanimous ruling should not be seen as immunity by medical marijuana purveyors, according to Reuters.
“Congress could restore funding tomorrow, a year from now, or four years from now,” he wrote, “and the government could then prosecute individuals who committed offenses while the government lacked funding.”
As if to downplay this huge victory, the panel also warned that “individuals who do not strictly comply with all state-law conditions” can be prosecuted.
While this ruling is certainly encouraging, this is only the beginning. The State’s war on marijuana is crumbling on every front. Twenty-five US states currently allow for medical marijuana while another four states Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, as well as the District of Columbia, allow marijuana for recreational use. This November, voters in nine more states, including California, are set to decide on whether recreational use of marijuana should be made legal there as well.
Matt Agorist is the co-founder of TheFreeThoughtProject.com, where this article first appeared. He is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world.