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News (Media Awareness Project) - US MT: Judge Rules Medical Marijuana Providers Can Be
Title:US MT: Judge Rules Medical Marijuana Providers Can Be
Published On:2012-02-01
Source:Hungry Horse News (MT)
Fetched On:2012-02-02 06:04:12

A federal judge in Missoula ruled Jan. 20 that federal drug laws trump
Montana's medical marijuana law.

U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy dismissed a civil lawsuit
brought by 14 individuals and businesses who were among the two dozen
medical marijuana providers raided by federal agents in March last

The plaintiffs claimed the raids had violated their constitutional
rights, citing the 2004 citizens initiative that led to Montana's
Medical Marijuana Act.

Molloy, however, ruled that the plaintiffs could be prosecuted under
the federal Controlled Substances Act. He cited a 2005 U.S. Supreme
Court ruling that applied the U.S. Constitution's supremacy clause to
medical marijuana cases.

"Whether the plaintiffs' conduct was legal under Montana law is of
little significance here, since the alleged conduct clearly violates
federal law," Molloy said. "We are all bound by federal law, like it
or not."

The plaintiffs had also argued that U.S. Justice Department officials
had said they wouldn't prosecute medical marijuana providers who
complied with state laws. They cited a 2009 memo by Deputy Attorney
General David Ogden.

Molloy, however, pointed out that the Ogden Memo clearly said
complying with state law did not prevent people from being prosecuted
under federal law.

"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,"
Molloy said.

The plaintiffs' attorneys had not decided whether to appeal Molloy's
ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human
Services, the number of registered medical marijuana providers sharply
declined from 4,650 in May 2011 to less than 400 by the end of
December after the Montana Legislature passed more stringent
regulations for the new industry.

Columbia Falls was one of the few cities in Montana that allowed
medical marijuana businesses to operate. Other cities and towns
applied urgency zoning or cited federal law to prevent the businesses
from operating inside their city limits.
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