WTF: Department of Justice Defies Congress and Claims It Can Prosecute Medical Marijuana Cases…at a Time When a Government-Funded Group Admits New Research Shows That Cannabinoids May Be Helpful in Treating a Deadly Form of Brain Cancer

US-DeptOfJustice-Seal.svgBy Elaine Magliaro

Timothy Phelps (Los Angeles Times) reported last week that the Department of Justice (DOJ) claims that it can prosecute medical marijuana cases despite the fact that Congress passed a bipartisan amendment last year which prohibited the DOJ from spending money to undermine state medical marijuana laws. Phelps said that “Congress added an amendment to a spending bill ordering the Justice Department not to interfere with states that allow the sale of medical marijuana from implementing their laws” in December.


Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said in a statement Wednesday that it did not not believe the amendment applies to cases against individuals or organizations.

Rather, he said, it stops the department from “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws,” contrary to some claims from people being prosecuted that the amendment blocks such prosecutions.

Phelps added that the narrow interpretation of the law was “of particular interest in the Bay Area, where the Justice Department has initiated forfeiture proceedings against three medical marijuana dispensaries it considers to be in violation of federal law.” Henry Wykowski, a lawyer for the medical marijuana dispensaries, was quoted as saying, “I think that the amendment is vague and it hasn’t been interpreted by any court yet. But the language can be read more broadly to encompass such prosecutions.”

Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance said that the DOJ “continues to target people who are complying with their state medical marijuana law.” He added, “This insubordination is occurring despite the fact that members of Congress in both parties were clear that their intent with the amendment was to protect medical marijuana patients and providers from federal prosecution and forfeiture.”


Last May, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Democratic Congressman Sam Farr offered an amendment to a spending bill prohibiting the Justice Department from spending any money in 2015 to prevent states “from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

The Drug Policy Alliance worked to pass the amendment. Members of both parties took to the House floor in opposition to the prosecution of medical marijuana patients and providers and in defense of states setting their own marijuana laws without federal interference.

The Republican-controlled House passed the amendment with most Democrats and 49 Republicans approving it. The amendment was backed in the Senate by Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Cory Booker and made it into the final “cromnibus” bill that was signed by President Obama in December. The spending restriction applies to fiscal year 2015 spending.

The DOJ’s stance on medical marijuana prosecutions comes at a time when a U.S. government-funded research group tasked with studying drug abuse and addiction has admitted “that marijuana is useful in killing off specific types of brain tumors.”

Tom Boggioni (Raw Story):

The report — coming from a government-backed  group with annual budget of over $1 billion — arrives at an awkward time for the administration following an announcement by the Department of Justice this week that it will continue to prosecute medical marijuana cases against individuals in defiance of Congress.

Sam P. K. Collins (ThinkProgress) said that the “information war about marijuana may have turned a new page with the federal government’s acknowledgment of a recent study that found the plant can significantly reduce aggressive types of brain tumors when combined with radiation treatment, endorsing what medicinal marijuana advocates have long affirmed as its healing properties.” Collins said that researchers at St. George’s University of London had “recorded reductions in high-grade glioma masses — a deadly form of brain cancer — in mice.” The mice’s tumors reportedly “shrank after they were exposed to radiation in tandem with two marijuana compounds: THC, which creates the “high feeling,” and CBD, which has no psychoactive side effects.” Collins added that “the researchers said that both cannabinoids made tumors more receptive to the radiation treatment, creating what lead author Dr. Wai Lui described to HuffPost as a ‘triple threat’ approach.”

Earlier this year, Lui wrote in an op-ed: “We’ve shown that cannabinoids could play a role in treating one of the most aggressive cancers in adults. The results are promising…it could provide a way of breaking through glioma and saving more lives.”


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a government drug abuse and addiction research organization, may be on the cusp of a philosophical change. NIDA issued a revised statement about medical marijuana at the beginning of April that acknowledged the research out of St. George’s University of London, as well as other findings summarized in a November research report.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine,” the statement reads. “However, scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Continued research may lead to more medications.”

According to Collins, Lui’s medical marijuana study followed on “other research conducted by a team of scientists from the United Kingdom who found that a combination of six purified cannabinoids can kill cancerous cells found in leukemia patients.” He added, “Previous research has confirmed that THC reduces the size of cancerous tumors and stops the spread of HIV.” In addition, scientists have reportedly “found that strains of CBD can potentially treat children and adults suffering from seizure disorders.”

WTF????? Does DOJ stand for Department Of Jerks?


Justice Department Defying Congress, Breaking the Law on Medical Marijuana (Huffington Post)

Feds admit medical pot works on brain tumors — but they’re going after users anyway (Raw Story)

Justice Department says it can still prosecute medical marijuana cases (Los Angeles Times)

Science Shows Marijuana Can Help Kill Tumors, Federal Government Admits (ThinkProgress)


This entry was posted in Biology, Constitutional Law, Courts, Crime, DOJ, Government, Health Care, Jurisprudence, Justice, Law Enforcement, Pharmaceuticals, Politics, United States, War on Drugs and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to WTF: Department of Justice Defies Congress and Claims It Can Prosecute Medical Marijuana Cases…at a Time When a Government-Funded Group Admits New Research Shows That Cannabinoids May Be Helpful in Treating a Deadly Form of Brain Cancer

  1. rafflaw says:

    Yes. This is the same department that just can’t seem to find evidence that Wall Street has committed any crimes, even when they admit to laundering terrorist money!

  2. Elaine M. says:


    Good point!

  3. Bob Stone says:

    How the DOJ Contributed to the Awful Ferguson Police Culture It Condemns

    You know who else has a judicial system that is hard to fight and extracts money from citizens?

    Scott Shackford, Mar. 6, 2015 12:15 pm


    Would any of the awful behavior and treatment of the citizenry of Ferguson described in this report have been acceptable to the public had it been more fairly distributed across the community’s demographic population? If more white people were captured by this awful system and wrung dry, would that have been fair or just?

    Of course not. There is injustice in this system existing at all, not just in that it’s happening primarily to minorities. And the Department of Justice has its own version of this system. The Department of Justice threatens defendants with dozens of federal charges that could put them behind bars for decades unless they accept plea deals and avoid a trial, a punishment for trying to defend themselves. Department of Justice prosecutors, working with other agencies like the IRS, seize assets from Americans and resist giving it back even when there’s little evidence such Americans have done anything wrong. The DOJ engages in a lot of the same misbehavior found in the Ferguson system of justice—it’s just not motivated by race.

    Even though the Department of Justice may attack Ferguson’s revenue-generating, they are quick to defend the role of their own “Equitable Sharing Program,” the program that encourages law enforcement agencies to seize property and assets by allowing the agencies to keep 80 percent of what they take in the program. A White House report crafted in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown and the police’s militarized response to protests defended the program, along with others, as “valuable and have provided state and local law enforcement with needed assistance as they carry out their critical missions in helping to keep the American people safe.” Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch defended asset forfeiture as a useful tool for law enforcement at a Senate hearing.

  4. Elaine M. says:

    Congressmen Say DOJ’s Interpretation Of Their Medical Marijuana Amendment Is ‘Emphatically Wrong’

    The lawmakers behind a recent congressional amendment protecting medical marijuana operations in states where the drug is legal strongly rebuked the Department of Justice for trying to continue to crack down on some medical marijuana businesses.

    The DOJ believes the law only stops it from “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws,” department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said in a statement, portions of which were previously published in the Los Angeles Times. “Consistent with the Department’s stated enforcement priorities, we don’t expect that the amendment will impact our ability to prosecute private individuals or private entities who are violating the Controlled Substances Act.”

    But Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), the co-sponsors of the historic amendment that prohibits the DOJ from using funds to go after state-legal medical marijuana programs, told The Huffington Post that the department is incorrect in its understanding of the law.

  5. needs4change says:

    rafflaw and Elaine;

    We’ve provided an abundance of evidence to the DOJ/SEC. …It isn’t that they “can’t find”

    They don’t want to find….. is the more proper reflection…..

  6. needs4change says:

    Meanwhile, just recently in San Fran, the S.E.C. went after Mark Feathers (an independent biz guy who was a person {not a Bank} Licensed to do Small Biz Admin {“SBA”} loans). As Mark Feathers was building a huge business beating out Wells Fargo and BofA.

    S.E.C. over reach against Mark Feathers was rejected by the Bankruptcy Court.

    Whereas the S.E.C. did violate the law (but who is gonna punish the S.E.C.) in an effort to make a grab for by claiming a lien that was avoidable in BK; because the lien wasn’t filed “during” the BK.

    Court ruled -Northern District Calif. Judge Eliane Hammond – Case No. 13-55816

    The SEC bases its opposition on the fact that the judicial lien was not “fixed” on the debtor’s interest in the property on the petition date. Oppos., p.2. Its analysis relies upon Wilding v. Citifinancial (In re Wilding), 475 F.3d 428 (1st Cir. 2007). In Wilding, the First Circuit found that a judicial lien that was paid off through a refinance while the motion was pending could be avoided because it was fixed against debtor’s property on the petition date; and the petition date is the operative date for purposes of § 522(f). See id. at 432. However, Wilding must be distinguished on the basis that it was undisputed that the judicial lien attached on the petition date in that case. Here, the key issue is whether a judicial lien recorded after the petition date may be avoided pursuant to § 522(f). Both the Tenth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel and the Third Circuit have answered this in the affirmative.

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