Medical Marijuana Use Upheld by the Federal Courts

Medical Marijuana Use Upheld by the Federal Courts

The conflict between a federal government ban on marijuana and a near-majority of states who approve marijuana for medical use was the subject of a federal court decision this week.

And the decision backs those who use marijuana to treat health issues, including chronic pain.

A federal judge has ruled Monday that a Congressional budget amendment prevents the Department of Justice from taking action against medical marijuana patients and providers who are operating in compliance with state laws. This is an important decision because 23 states and the District of Columbia have approved medical marijuana.

Northern District of California Judge Charles Breyer said that by enacting the so-called Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, “Congress dictated…that it intended to prohibit the Department of Justice from expending any funds in connection with the enforcement of any law that interfered with California’s ability” to implement its own state medical marijuana laws. The decision was prompted by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s efforts to shut down the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a prominent San Francisco-area medical marijuana dispensary.

The House of Representatives first approved the budgetary amendment in May 2014, and it was included in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 signed by President Obama in December.

Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), who sponsored and authored the amendment, responded in a letter that such an interpretation was “emphatically wrong” and later requested an inspector general investigation into the Justice Department’s continued use of funds for prosecutions.

The House of Representatives passed the amendment again in June 2015, and the Senate Appropriations Committee approved it for the first time, as well. It is expected to be included in any compromise legislation funding the government for the next fiscal year.

Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. His reaction?

“This is a big win for medical marijuana patients and their providers, and a significant victory in our efforts to end the federal government’s war on marijuana. Federal raids of legitimate medical marijuana businesses aren’t just stupid and wasteful, but also illegal.

“While an annual appropriations rider is a way to temporarily work around broken federal marijuana laws, Congress needs to take concrete steps to permanently resolve the tension between state and federal marijuana laws. Virtually every presidential candidate from both parties has said states should be able to determine their own marijuana laws, and multiple bills are pending in Congress that would allow them to do so. It is long past time those bills got the hearings and votes they deserve,” Riffle added.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Ron Nord

Why isn’t the DOJ and DEA made to pay for all the legal litigation that they have caused by not following the laws written by Congress. We have whole departments ignoring laws and causing untold millions of dollars of litigation, they should pay out of their budgets and for wilfull ignoring the laws passed should be censored with job loss. This isn’t a joke, this is very expensive to litigate and is a ploy by the DOJ and its minions to break financially the person who dares go against them; it even has a name, LawWarfare.


Judy, I agree with you. This is a HUGE win for the states that medicinal marijuana is legal. Unfortunately for those of us in states where they won’t pass a bill for medicinal marijuana or only oil for epilepsy, then we are still discriminated against. So I hope states will now see that people with chronic pain CAN get pain relief from medicinal marijuana.

When nothing works for me, and I even do the OTC (over the counter) stuff and the pain just won’t go away, I will smoke it, even though it’s not legal here. But I tell you what, boy does it take the pain away in minutes and I may feel a big high, but I can still hold a legible conversation, and I can think and read and everything else…..basically I can still function!

And I do agree that narcotics and medicinal marijuana mixture is the best way to handle chronic pain.

Judie Bruno

This is a great start and we need more legislation to deal with this problem and hopefully it will help stop those who are refusing to prescribe other pain medications to those patients who live in these states and use Medical Marijuana as part of their pain treatment. The VA, being Federal, is punishing Veterans who live in these states by just refusing to give them the other pain medications they need and in doing so, are forcing those patients to only use Marijuana and you can’t function, can’t have a good quality of life that is all you have.

I won my case with the Pain Board at the VA because I was able to prove that using Medical Marijuana at the end of the day, when there was nothing else I had to do, allowed me, on most days, not that last Morphine prescribe and helps me keep my narcotic intake down but you can’t function, can’t have a good quality of life if all you do is sit around and smoke pot all day long. This is not a judgement call and if those who only want to stay stoned all day long make the decisions to do so, that is their life but for your quality of life in dealing with Chronic Pain, you need a combination of pain medications and with Medical Marijuana, it can help you keep the dangerous amounts of Narcotics needed to handle that pain. There is this real danger of overdose of Narcotics and deaths but no one has ever died from an overdose of Medical Marijuana.

The problem at the VA is that for years all they have done for the patients is to throw Narcotic medications at them and now, as they always do, are going overboard in the other directions but instead of giving Veterans other medications that might help with their problems, that’s all they do. This long list of FDA approved drugs that Veterans cannot receive that could possibly help with their problems but can’t receive because the VA will not prescribe them. Wouldn’t it be better to find a way to treat the underlying causes instead of masking it with narcotics?

It’s our lives and should be our decisions along with our doctors on what should be prescribed for pain without bureaucracy interference. Didn’t this Country learn at all from the experience of Prohibition? If you take away what citizens want and need and make it illegal, you are then turning those citizens into criminals. States have the right to pass laws and those citizens who have done so in these states, have that right without fear from our Federal agencies.


Judie Bruno