A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit on January 20 that had been filed by 14 individuals and businesses that provided medical marijuana and were raided by DEA agents in Montana during 2011. The ruling confirms that Montana’s medical marijuana law, passed in 2004, does not protect medi-pot providers from federal prosecution.
U.S District Judge Donald Molloy cited a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which stated that the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause applies in medical marijuana cases. This means that medical pot providers can be prosecuted under federal law, even though they are legally complying with state law.
“Whether the plaintiffs’ conduct was legal under Montana law is of little significance here, since the alleged conduct clearly violates federal law … We are all bound by federal law, like it or not.”
Judge Molloy also shot down the “Ogden memo” defense that the pot plaintiffs had tried to raise. The Ogden Memo was issued in 2009 when Deputy Attorney General David Ogden wrote that federal prosecutors wouldn’t go after pot patients and providers who were acting in compliance with state law.
Judge Molloy ruled the Ogden Memo does not provide a legal defense to any violation of the Controlled Substances Act, which for over 40 years has branded cannabis as a dangerous drug with no known medical benefits (despite, as we repeatedly point out, the federal government continuing to provide medical marijuana to various individuals across the U.S.).
“A reasonable person, having read the entirety of the Ogden Memo, could not conclude that the federal government was somehow authorizing the production and consumption of marijuana for medicinal purposes,” Judge Molloy wrote.
Attorney Carl Jensen, representing the pot plaintiffs, told the AP that this ruling should set all medical providers still operating in the state on high alert that the feds may be coming after them next.
There are presently less than 400 medical cannabis providers remaining in Montana as opposed to over 4,600 just last May. Jensen said no decision has been made yet regarding an appeal.
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