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Marijuana Advocates Continue to Challenge Feds' Authority

Marijuana Advocates Continue to Challenge Feds' Authority
Nanette Gonzalez for LA Weekly

A team of attorneys is challenging federal authorities' right to crack down on California marijuana dispensaries. They lost a courtroom battle this week.

See also: Weed's Federal Battle in California Remains Uphill.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the challenge, essentially ruling that, despite California's own medical marijuana laws, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration can still bust pot shops because cannabis is fully illegal under federal law.

However, ...

 ... there is still hope.

The panel noted that "a prior holding of this court may only be overturned through en banc consideration."

What that means is that a hearing of the matter before the entire, 11-judge court was seemingly encouraged, and a spokesman for the plaintiffs, Matthew Kumin, says they'll apply for just that next week.

On top of that, he says, if they lose before the entire court, there's always the U.S. Supreme Court.

These people are serious.

The case, Sacramento Nonprofit Collective et al v. Eric Holder et. al, challenges federal authority to bust pot shops in light of "ambiguous" federal guidelines (the so-called Ogden memo that de-emphasizes medical prosecution) and in light of the DEA's seemingly illogical classification of cannabis as a top-level outlaw with no medical uses.

The court said there's "no clear inconsistency between the Government's current and prior positions."

Kumin says the plaintiffs' team of seven attorneys will keep on keepin' on.

"It doesn't end," he says, "because you lose an battle on important civil rights issue."

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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