In early August, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California barred federal prosecutors from pursuing a drug case against two California weed growers. The decision could have a major impact on state marijuana industries across the country.
The case before the court involved two marijuana cultivators who were raided by federal authorities in 2012. During the raid of their property, officers seized 312 marijuana plants, over $400,000 in cash and some guns. The pair were charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. However, the U.S. District Court judge ruled that defendants were carefully complying with California laws regulating the growth and sale of medical marijuana and are, therefore, shielded from federal prosecution.
As the basis for his decision, the judge cited the 2014 Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which forbids the use of federal funds to prosecute people who are following state marijuana laws. He also cited a 9th Circuit opinion, which also held that individuals following state medical marijuana laws should be protected from federal prosecution. Legal observers believe that the latest ruling will make it easier for medical marijuana cultivators, sellers and users to protect themselves from federal prosecution.
Individuals convicted of drug charges, including drug possession and drug trafficking, can face serious consequences. Typical sentences may include incarceration, fines and the seizure of personal property. However, defendants could help their case by retaining a criminal defense attorney to represent them in court. Legal counsel could review the evidence and build a strong defense based on the circumstances of the case.
Source: Green Rush Daily, "U.S. District Court Blocks Federal Prosecution of California Weed Growers", Nick Lindsey, Aug. 11, 2017