By Brian Seals, Santa Cruz Sentinel Staff Writer,
Medical marijuana users and growers in California could cite state law as a defense against federal prosecutors who criminalize their actions, under a bill planned by three federal lawmakers.U.S. Reps. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, and Lynne Woolsey, D-Petaluma, plan to co-sponsor the bill next month with Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, an Orange County Republican. The proposed legislation comes in the wake of stepped-up federal raids on medical marijuana gardens over the past year, including one at a Santa Cruz County cooperative last September.
The legislation also comes after marijuana guru Ed Rosenthal was convicted on federal charges of growing pot in Oakland in a trial during which his lawyers weren’t allowed to mention he was growing it for Oakland’s medical marijuana patients. "The purpose of this bill is to allow defendants in federal criminal trials to introduce evidence that their marijuana-related activity was performed for a valid medical purpose under state law," Farr said in a written statement. Farr is to be honored today in Sacramento during a press conference hosted by the marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. He was to be joined by family members of people recently convicted on federal marijuana charges. Eight states have approved medical marijuana use, but the bill recognizing state marijuana law is likely to face an uphill battle in a Republican-controlled Congress. Rohrbacher said the bill was a reasonable approach to settling the conflict between federal and state laws.