Despite a congressional spending bill passed at the end of 2014 restricting the Justice Department from spending federal funds to fuel drug war activity against the medical marijuana community, federal authorities are still investigating, and in many cases, prosecuting dispensaries because they claim no provisions in the budget can stop them.
A recent story in The Los Angeles Times indicates there has been a huge misinterpretation of the $1 trillion spending bill, which was signed last year by President Obama, at least in terms of how the Justice Department can spend Uncle Sam’s money against the medical marijuana industry.
While bright-eyed activists touted the passage of the congressional plan as an end to the war on medical marijuana, it turns out this was only an illusion, and the troops are still bringing the heat down when and wherever they can. As it stands, three dispensaries in the San Francisco Bay Area are currently being shook down by the federal government, even though this level of harassment is not supposed to have any financial support until the amendment can be reconsidered later this year.
It turns out that individuals and dispensaries are still not safe from federal prosecution. Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, sent a statement to the LA Times earlier this week, which suggests that even though the omnibus spending bill prevents the federal government from attacking states that have legalized marijuana, it does not prevent the agency from targeting patients and the dispensaries that service them.
The language of the bill has been grossly blown out of proportion, he said, as it only hinders federal authorities from “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws,” but it does not protect the medical marijuana industry from prosecution. Unfortunately, the truth surrounding this legislation was misrepresented in the media, which has led many patients and dispensaries to believe that they no longer need to worry about soldiers of the drug war kicking down their doors due to discrepancies between state and federal law.
Yet, as several dispensaries in the Bay Area have learned the hard way, the medical marijuana community is still at risk of being shut down at a moment’s notice by overzealous DEA agents and the prosecutors. However, there may be some encouraging news for dispensaries caught up in this supposed peacetime insurgence.
Henry Wykowski, who is the representing attorney for the Bay Area dispensaries, believes the scope of the spending bill may be too vague for federal prosecutors to actually get a conviction.
“It hasn’t been interpreted by any court yet,” he said.
Yet, he argues that the language could also be easily interpreted in such a way that supports these types of prosecutions. In other words, this is not the time to stop watching your ass.