California Marijuana Laws – Federal laws and rulings regarding medical marijuana

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California Marijuana Laws – Federal laws and rulings regarding medical marijuana

Although California has enacted legislation that permits medicinal marijuana use under specific circumstances, the federal government has done no such thing. In fact, federal laws and rulings continue to maintain that marijuana drugs have no medical value and are among the most dangerous drugs in our society. Federal charges relating to marijuana use, cultivation and distribution, when prosecuted, carry severe penalties. As a result of these consequences, it is critical that an individual charged with any of these activities immediately contacts a skilled criminal defense lawyer who has mastered this field of law and who understands all of the issues and defenses that coincide with the federal rules relating to medical marijuana use.

Marijuana is listed as a “Schedule I” drug, along with other “hard narcotics,” in the US Controlled Substances Act, which means federal law prohibits its cultivation, possession, sale or use for any purpose, including for therapeutic medical treatment. Even though this is the case, it should be noted that federal charges are typically filed only in large cases where commercial distribution is suspected. Nonetheless, when these charges are filed, only an experienced criminal attorney who specializes in this technical field should be retained.

Over the last decade, a number of Supreme Court cases have been decided that continue to hold medical marijuana use, growth and distribution illegal. Back in 2000, there were two cases that held that physicians have a First Amendment right to recommend that their patients use marijuana for medicinal purposes, but that they may not aid or abet their patients in actually obtaining the drug. The doctor may discuss the pros and cons of medical marijuana with his or her patient and may even issue a written or oral recommendation to use marijuana within a bona fide doctor-patient relationship without fear of legal reprisal. However, the doctor may not actually prescribe or dispense marijuana to a patient or recommend it with the specific intent that the patient will use the recommendation like a prescription to obtain the drug.

Medical marijuana use was again the focus in a 2005 case that held that federal law enforcement officials are permitted to prosecute medical marijuana patients even if the patient grows his or her own medicine and even if he or she resides in a state where medical marijuana use is protected under state law. The court’s ruling doesn’t invalidate California’s law that permits such use, which means that Californians with a doctor’s recommendation can continue to use marijuana without fear of local prosecution. Because federal law enforcement authorities do not have the resources to bring more than a few, token cases, the decision is not expected to have much practical effect on patients using marijuana for medicinal purposes in states such as this that have approved its use.

Perhaps one of the most controversial cases was decided in 2006 when a San Francisco federal jury found an Oakland resident guilty of cultivating cannabis, conspiring to cultivate, and maintaining a place where drugs are manufactured. Because it was a federal case and not a state case, jurors didn’t hear evidence regarding Proposition 215 or about the fact that the defendant was specifically authorized by the city of Oakland to grow medical cannabis. Jurors publicly recanted their “guilty” verdict after finding out all the facts.

Because the federal rules and state rules regarding medical marijuana conflict, it is advisable that anyone accused of participating in an activity relating to the medical use of marijuana consults a drug crime defense attorney. The exceptional attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm specialize in drug offenses and are the most qualified to defend their clients against the severe penalties that are often imposed in connection with drug cases. They keep up-to-date on the latest laws and case rulings regarding both federal and state medical marijuana issues, which allows them to provide their clients with the most comprehensive defenses available. For unparalleled legal advice and the best representation, contact the firm today for a free consultation.