Defense attorney says medical marijuana prosecutions are an attempt to ‘veto’ voter-approved law

A Helena lawyer is asking a federal court judge to throw out the charges against his client, saying that the U.S. Attorney’s office has no right to “veto” Montana voters’ approval of medical marijuana. Michael Donahoe, a federal defense attorney, said that the federal government “selectively targeted” medical marijuana cultivators and dispensers like his client, Chris Williams, who is a founding member of Montana Cannabis. Donahoe is asking that the case against Williams be dropped. In addition, Donahoe argues in court documents filed this week in U.S. District Court that the federal government’s prosecution of medical marijuana providers violates the U.S. Constitution by a “direct and intended” encroachment on Montana’s governmental rights under the “Guarantee Clause” of Article 4. That clause states that the federal government shall guarantee every state a republican form of government, which means that people hold the power, not the government, and it can’t go against the will of the people. By prosecuting Williams after Montana voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing medical marijuana in the state, the federal government is overstepping its boundaries, according to Donahoe. He adds that 17 states already have decriminalized some use of medical marijuana, and 12 others have legislation pending to legalize it. “If these states are added to the roster of jurisdictions allowing the use of medical marijuana the total will swell to 29, well over half of the jurisdictions in the United States,” Donahoe wrote, adding that he’s wondering if this “grassroots movement” at the state level ought to impact the federal government.

“The Constitution does not cast the states as mere puppets of the central federal government. The structure of our republic presupposes that the federal government is one of limited powers, not because it chooses to be, but because the Constitution says it is,” he wrote. In its own motion this week, government prosecutors said that while Donahoe is trying to raise constitutional issues, among others, he’s just putting up a smokescreen. “The intertwined subjects of medical marijuana, Montana law and medical necessity have no relevance to determining whether the government has proven the crimes charged in the indictment,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thaggard wrote in his legal brief. “Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. Unlike drugs in other schedules … Schedule I drugs cannot be dispensed under a prescription.” Thaggard adds that ultimately, the use, possession or distribution of marijuana is illegal under the federal Controlled Substance Act, even when done in compliance with state law. He adds that Williams, along with co-defendant Chris Lindsay, wasn’t complying with state law anyway because they distributed marijuana to some people who didn’t have a prescription for it; sold hashish, which isn’t authorized under Montana state laws; maintained more marijuana plants than necessary to service their authorized customers; and engaged in prohibited caregiver-to-caregiver distribution. Williams’ trial is set to begin at 10 a.m. June 11 in Helena before U.S. District Court Judge Dana L. Christensen.

via : Helena ir

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