A three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided Tuesday that growers and distributors of medical marijuana who are permitted to operate under state law are protected from prosecution by the federal government. Though marijuana is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration and is illegal under federal law, 25 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized cannabis for medial use in statewide ballot measures.
The ruling in United States vs. McIntosh, which “consolidated ten interlocutory appeals for writs of mandamus arising from three district courts in two states,” vacated the lower court’s orders to deny relief to their indictment for violating the Controlled Substances Act. The appeals court ruled that an annual congressional ban prohibits the federal government from spending money to prosecute people who possess, grow, or distribute medical marijuana in states where such a practice is legalized.
While states across the country have legalized medical cannabis, the 9th Circuit’s ruling will only apply to the states under its jurisdiction that have such laws: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. In response to the ruling, the federal government may appeal the decision to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit or appeal directly to the Supreme Court.
(Via Los Angeles Times)