DOJ Blocked from Prosecuting Medical Marijuana Businesses

Good news for medicinal marijuana industry, both in Minnesota and nationwide. Earlier this month the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that as long as medical marijuana businesses are compliant with relevant state laws, federal prosecutors can no longer pursue cases against them. The court sided in favor of the defendants in ten combined cases, all dealing with marijuana growing operations and dispensaries in California and Washington. The defendants successfully argued that all federal charges against them be dropped, since they were compliant with the guidelines set by their states’ legal medical marijuana markets.

The court decision stood in contrast to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s announcement a week prior, which stated that marijuana will continue to be classified as a Schedule 1 drug—the category reserved for the most dangerous drugs, such as heroin. Notably, this DEA announcement also slightly open the door for further research into the efficacy of marijuana as a medical treatment.

Despite the continued DEA classification, momentum continues relatively unabated for the medical marijuana industry. To date, Minnesota and twenty-four other states have legalized medical marijuana and the industry as a whole generated more than $5 billion in sales in 2015. Now unburdened from the threat of DOJ prosecution, that number is expected to skyrocket in the coming years.