Huffpost San Francisco
Carly Schwartz Headshot

Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Dismissed By Federal Judge In Sacramento

Posted: Updated:

SAN FRANCISCO -- Medical marijuana advocates faced another setback Tuesday, when a federal judge in Sacramento dismissed a lawsuit claiming that the Obama administration broke its promise to leave the pot industry alone when it began an aggressive crackdown against California dispensaries last fall.

Proponents of the suit cited President Obama's 2009 Ogden Memo, which told federal prosecutors to concentrate their efforts on large drug trafficking networks and "not focus federal resources" on medical marijuana operations in states that have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes.

But in a sharp reversal of the memo, federal authorities announced a renewed effort to target pot dispensaries throughout California last October, claiming the industry had ballooned to unprecedented proportions.

In the four months since the reinstated crackdown, a number of medical cannabis clubs across the state have been forced to shut down, including five in San Francisco and the legendary Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Marin County, California's oldest. The District Attorney's office has begun investigating 12 more stores in San Francisco this year.

The U.S. attorneys going after such dispensaries have justified their actions mainly by claiming the shops operate too close to parks and schools.

Pot activists have fought back, arguing the federal government should focus its energy elsewhere and not interfere with states abiding by their own laws.

"It's a total waste of resources," Stephanie Tucker, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Task Force, told The Huffington Post. "They're attacking a peaceful, regulated community and it's wasting money. Shame on them."

The Sacramento lawsuit was one of a handful filed in November by cannabis suppliers and patients, who cited the Ogden Memo as the basis for their action. U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell, who reviewed the case in the capitol, justified his dismissal by claiming the memo was not a "binding commitment," simply a statement of priorities.

Burrell's ruling will allow for prosecutors to continue to take action against dispensaries operating throughout the state.

Matthew Kumin, a lawyer representing one of the dispensaries in the Sacramento case, told SF Weekly that the dismissal of the cases without allowing a fair trial is bogus. "The government's blocking of us is irrational at this point," Kumin said to SF Weekly. "It's clear there's medical use; circumstances have changed."

Kumin pointed to federally-backed clinical trials of cannabis-based drugs such as Sativex as proof that scientists believe marijuana has a medical benefit. Despite that, he said he expects similar lawsuits in Oakland and Los Angeles to be dismissed this week.

"The judges know we're in the right," he said. "They just don't want to admit it."

Take a look at the video below for more on the issue:

Around the Web

Feds Dismiss Medical Marijuana Lawsuits Without Hearings ...

Arizona Governor's Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Dismissed ...

Arizona Governor's Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Dismissed

Judge dismisses medical marijuana suit by Arizona

Governor Jan Brewer's Lawsuit Against Medical-Marijuana Law ...

Arizona Medical-Marijuana Suit Dismissed by Federal Judge ...

Suit over medical marijuana crackdown thrown out

ACLU Asks Federal Judge to Dismiss Lawsuit Challenging Arizona ...

Feds Dismiss Medical Marijuana Lawsuits Without Hearings "Because They Know ...

Suit over medical marijuana crackdown thrown out

Fed Judge: Gov Crackdown on Medical Marijuana OK

Judge throws out medical pot suit against the feds

Court Will Not Hear Oral Arguments Over Motion to Dismiss Medical Marijuana Case

Tide of Dismissals May Await Medical Marijuana Cases

Government's Crackdown On Medical Cannabis Not Unconstitutional, Federal Judge ...

OC justices: Cities can't use nuisance ordinances to ban medical marijuana ...

Med marijuana ruling in Calif. adds to confusion

Medical marijuana dispensaries could be operational by summer