Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment Prevents Feds From Continuing to Shut Down California Dispensary Ruling Undermines Department of Justice Interpretation of Congressional Restrictions On Interference With State-Legal Medical Cannabis Programs
October 20, 2015 | Christopher Brown
San Francisco- On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer ruled that enforcement of the injunction against the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM), which has prevented the medical cannabis dispensary from engaging in business, must be consistent with the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment and therefore, was only enforceable against activity that is not allowed within state law.
The ruling noted that a “plain reading of [the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment] forbids the Department of Justice (DOJ) from enforcing this injunction against MAMM to the extent that MAMM operates in compliance with state California law.” The ruling further noted that local officials considered MAMM to be a “model business in careful compliance” with local regulations.
“The Justice Department’s interpretation of our amendment was completely ludicrous,” said Rep. Sam Farr, (D-CA). “It should not have taken a federal judge to explain that to them. Closing dispensaries denies patients access to medicine; clearly preventing states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws. With this ruling, it’s time for the Department to finally listen to the majority of Americans who want patients to have access to medical marijuana.”
Fellow amendment sponsor Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) added, “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. The people’s representatives in Congress have, on more than one occasion, heeded the demands of the American people to allow for the possession, cultivation, and distribution of medical marijuana in states that permit such activities. For the Department of Justice to flout this Congressional directive is unfathomable. As such, Judge Breyer’s rebuke of DOJ’s ridiculous interpretation of our amendment is most welcomed.”In December of last year, Congress passed the amendment as part of the CRomnibus Appropriations Bill, which is currently included in federal law. The amendment bans the DOJ from spending money to prevent the implementation of state-level medical cannabis programs, removing funding for federal medical cannabis raids, arrests and prosecutions in states where medical cannabis is legal.
An updated version of the amendment to include additional states that have since passed medical cannabis laws is currently included in the appropriations bills that achieved overwhelming bipartisan victories on the House Floor (242-186) and in the Senate Appropriations Committee (21-9).“Americans for Safe Access has worked tirelessly for years to make the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment a reality,” said Michael Liszewski, ASA’s government affairs director. “Judge Breyer’s ruling shows that the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment offers real life protection from federal harassment. This is a major victory for medical cannabis patients.”DOJ has argued that the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment does not prevent them prosecuting or acting against individuals.
In August, Reps. Rohrabacher and Farr asked the Inspector General’s Office within DOJ to investigate violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act regarding the continued raids and prosecutions against state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers.