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Judge: Feds Cannot Block Dispensaries Operating Within State Law

Photo courtesy of NBC Bay Area


Judge: Feds Cannot Block Dispensaries Operating Within State Law

In a landmark decision that carries potential ramifications nationwide, a federal judge ruled Monday that the federal government does not have the authority to block the operations of medical marijuana clubs operating within state law. The decision marks a victory for Lynette Shaw, a medical cannabis pioneer who opened the nation’s first state-sanctioned dispensary in 1996. The dispensary, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, was in operation in Fairfax, California until it was shut down by the feds in 2011. Today’s decision comes in light of a 2014 amendment proposed by representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), which prohibited the Department of Justice prosecuting those operating within compliance with the state’s rules for medical marijuana. The recent ruling represents a broad interpretation of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, a piece of legislation designed to ensure that the federal government does not expend resources prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries operating within the parameters of their state.

The ruling, which lifts the injunction against the medical marijuana club, has been called a “tipping point” by Shaw’s attorney Greg Anton and comes from the same judge who granted the permanent injunction against Shaw in 2002.

“The law is clear there will be no funds expended for interfering with California state medical marijuana laws,” Anton said to NBC Bay Area.

Judge Charles Breyer granted the injunction against Shaw in 2002, but the business continued to operate under the radar until 2011. Shaw told the SFGate, that she believes the ruling demonstrates that Congressional law is being enacted as it was intended and declared the war on medical cannabis over.

“We won the war,” she said. “And I’m the first POW to be released.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office now has 30 days to appeal the decision.

The text of the ruling can be seen here: Breyer-10-19-15

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