Photo by digitalshay
By Steve Elliott in Chronic City
U.S. Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) and more than 20 bipartisan co-sponsors introduced legislation Tuesday that would allow defendants in medical marijuana cases the ability to use medical evidence at trial, a right they currently do not have.
Due to the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales v. Raich, the government has the discretion to enforce federal marijuana laws even in medical marijuana states. The Raich ruling also allows federal prosecutors to conveniently exclude evidence of medical use or state law compliance in federal trials, all but guaranteeing convictions of medical marijuana patients and providers.
Last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder formalized a departure from Bush Administration policy when he issued new guidelines to federal prosecutors discouraging them from prosecuting cases in which patients and providers are "in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws."
Unfortunately, the new DOJ guidelines neither direct U.S. Attorneys to abandon the more than two-dozen pending federal medical marijuana cases, nor allow defendants the ability to use medical evidence to exonerate themselves.
"This is a common-sense bill that will help stop the waste of law enforcement and judicial resources that have been spent prosecuting individuals who are following state law," Farr said Tuesday. "We need strict drug laws, but we also need to apply a little common sense to how they're enforced. This legislation is about treating defendants in cases involving medical marijuana fairly, plain and simple."
Read the rest at Chronic City in the SF Weekly blog, "The Snitch": Chronic City: 'Truth In Trials' Bill Would Lift Ban On Medical Marijuana Evidence In Federal Court