Despite State Law, Distributors of Medical Marijuana Are Subject to Federal Prosecution

Despite State Law, Distributors of Medical Marijuana Are Subject to Federal Prosecution



A district court has ruled that cannabis dispensers are not protected by Montana medical marijuana law from federal prosecution.

The court’s decision will reduce the number of doctors who are willing to recommend medical pot to patients. The ruling is also expected to trim down the number of entities that dispense medical marijuana. This was according to Timothy Baldwin, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. He said, “The way that the federal government has treated the industry in Montana and other states, it has caused people to become scared of being targeted for prosecution. That would include doctors.”

A measure that seeks to legalize medical marijuana was approved by Montana voters in 2004. The law permits patients with written recommendations from a physician to use the drug.

A group of marijuana growers and distributors, as well as an organization of caregivers, filed a lawsuit in 2011 against the federal government after authorities raided them and confiscated their marijuana plants along with related equipment.

The plaintiffs argued that the raids were unconstitutional since Montana law permitted them to grow and produce cannabis for medical consumption. They maintained that the U.S. Dept. of Justice had declared that it would not vigorously prosecute medical cannabis caregivers.

But Judge Donald W. Molloy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, in his Jan. 20 opinion, said that even if the alleged conduct of the plaintiffs was legal under Montana law, the conduct was considered illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Molloy said, “The federal government has never given a free pass to produce and consume marijuana, even for medical purposes.”