United States v. McIntosh, No. 15-10117 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
In these ten consolidated cases, appellants moved to dismiss their indictments for infractions of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq., or to enjoin their prosecutions on the grounds that the DOJ is prohibited from spending funds to prosecute them. At issue is whether criminal defendants may avoid prosecution for various federal marijuana offenses on the basis of a congressional appropriations rider that prohibits the DOJ from spending funds to prevent states’ implementation of their own medical marijuana laws. See the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, Pub. L. No. 114-113, 542, 129 Stat. 2242, 2332-33. The court concluded that is has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(1) to consider the interlocutory appeals from these direct denials of requests for injunctions. The court also concluded that appellants have standing to invoke separation-of-powers provisions of the Constitution to challenge their criminal prosecutions. The court concluded that section 542 prohibits the federal government only from preventing the implementation of those specific rules of state law that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana. The DOJ does not prevent the implementation of rules authorizing conduct when it prosecutes individuals who engage in conduct unauthorized under state medical marijuana laws. Individuals who do not strictly comply with all state-law conditions regarding the use, distribution, possession, and cultivation of medical marijuana have engaged in conduct that is unauthorized, and prosecuting such individuals does not violate section 542. Therefore, the court remanded to the district court for further consideration.