ASA Statement on DOJ Memorandum Regarding Guidance on Effect of Rohrabacher-Farr Medical Cannabis Amendment
August 05, 2015 | Christopher Brown
Earlier today, press reports revealed a February 2015 memorandum from Department of Justice on the Rohrabacher-Farr Medical Cannabis Amendment’s impact on federal law enforcement actions related to the Controlled Substances Act. The memorandum argues that federal prosecutions against private citizens participating in state-level medical cannabis programs would not be impacted by the amendment.
ASA Government Affairs Director Mike Liszewski issued the following comment:
"The February 27, 2015 DOJ memo shows that they were providing either deliberately misleading statements or, at the very least, contradictory and confusing messages in their talking points in opposition to the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that was offered to protect citizen access and participation in state-level medical cannabis programs. The language of the amendment and numerous statements clarifying the intent of the bill's sponsors make it clear that DOJ is barred from interfering with conduct that is legal under a given state's medical marijuana law.
DOJ's analysis of the term "implementation" is flawed in its conclusions. The Department does not directly define the term in the memo, and notably, implementation is not explicitly defined in the U.S. Code, federal case law, or even Black’s Law Dictionary. Because Webster’s has multiple definitions of the term, one must look to the floor debate to see which of the dictionary meaning is most appropriate. Upon a review of the various definitions of the term and the floor debate statements from Representatives Farr, Titus, Lee, and the others, it is readily apparent that the transitive verb “implement,” which means to, “carry out, accomplish; especially: to give practical effect to and ensure of actual fulfillment by concrete measures,” is the only appropriate definition to apply. If parties participating in medical marijuana programs are unable to acquire medicine from licensed dispensaries or pay fees for licensure and renewal as well as taxes, complete fulfillment of these laws is impossible. Therefore, if actual fulfillment of the state medical marijuana laws is not achieved to due federal law investigations, raids, arrests, prosecution, and incarceration, then by definition state implementation of these laws is being interfered with, because fulfillment must be ensured. It is not possible to accomplish the purpose of the state medical marijuana laws if the parties utilizing the state program (patients, caregivers, physicians, cultivators, providers, landlords, etc.) are being thwarted from engaging in this conduct due to federal interference. Any federal interference from DOJ that undermines this fulfillment is prohibited by the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment.
We looking forward to the Inspector General taking these factors into account when making its determination regarding Anti-Deficiency Act violations, as requested on July 30, 2015 by Reps. Rohrabacher and Farr in a letter to the Inspector General's Office”
Available For Comment:
ASA Government Affairs Director Mike Liszewski
Mike Liszewski (J.D., University of the District of Columbia, 2011) is Government Affairs Director at Americans for Safe Access. As Government Affairs Director at ASA, Mike works with patients, advocates, and elected officials at the state, local and national level to create new laws and improve existing ones that allow patients to have safe access to medical cannabis therapy. In addition to ASA's legislative work, Mike has also been actively involved with the implementation process to make sure these laws result in patients having legal and affordable access to medicine.
40 states now have some form of medical marijuana patient protections.
285 million Americans live under these laws (~85% of U.S. population).
Approximately 2.4 million patients utilize these laws.
Over 50 medical conditions have been approved among these programs.
States with medical marijuana programs have seen drop in opioid overdoses, highway fatalities, and not experienced increased teen use.
Under the Obama Administration, the Dept. of Justice has spent an estimated $350 million interfering with state medical marijuana programs.