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Congressional bill would lift ban on medical marijuana evidence in federal court

Posted on July 18th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

On July 17, US Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) and 18 co-sponsors introduced HR 6134, the "Truth in Trials" Act—bipartisan legislation to allow defendants in federal criminal prosecutions the ability to use medical marijuana evidence at trial. Because of a June 2005 US Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales v. Raich, the government has the discretion to enforce federal marijuana laws even in states that have passed medical marijuana laws. The Raich ruling also allows federal prosecutors to exclude all evidence concerning medical use or state law compliance in federal trials, virtually guaranteeing the convictions of medical marijuana patients and providers.

"The federal government has tilted the scales of justice towards conviction by denying medical marijuana defendants the right to present all of the evidence at trial," said Rep. Farr. "My bill would restore due process rights to law abiding citizens acting within the parameters of state and local laws. Juries should hear the entire story of a patient’s medical marijuana use before choosing to convict, not the heavily edited version they currently hear."

The Obama administration has taken an unprecedented stance against medical marijuana, including hundreds of threats to prosecute patients, providers, property owners, and even public officials. The Justice Department has indicted more than 70 people claiming to be compliance with state medical marijuana laws—a reality that stands in stark contrast to earlier statements by Obama that he was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue."

Most federal medical marijuana cases result in plea bargains due to the denial of a defense at trial. However, some defendants still choose to fight their charges. Charles C. Lynch ran a dispensary in Morro Bay, Calif., with the support of the City Council and local Chamber of Commerce, but he was raided, prosecuted and convicted in 2008, barred the right to a defense under state law. Lynch is currently released on bail pending his appeal, which is currently before the Ninth Circuit. (ASA, July 18)

Graphic:  DRCNet

 

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