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United States v. McIntosh

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Appellants allege that the Government is prohibited from spending funds to prosecute them.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Section 542 solely prohibits the federal government from preventing the implementation of the state laws that authorize individuals from using, distributing, possessing, or cultivating medical marijuana.

    Facts.

    Appellants were indicted for violating the Controlled Substance Act, and they move to suppress their indictments or to enjoin their prosecution on the grounds that the Government is violating § 542 by spending money to prosecute them.

    Issue.

    Whether the Federal Government’s action of spending money on Defendant’s prosecution violates § 542.

    Held.

    Yes, the Federal Government’s action of spending money on Defendant’s prosecution violates § 542.

    Discussion.

    In 2014, Congress enacted the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (“riderâ€). 2015, Pub. L. No. 113-235, § 538, 128 Stat. 2130, 2217 (2014). The rider appropriated the funds for the upcoming fiscal year until September 30, 2016. Section 542 of the rider indicates that “[n]one of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to [Medical Marijuana States] to prevent any of them form implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.†The Federal Government contends that the ride does not prohibit the prosecution of private individuals, but solely prohibits the taking of any legal action against the state. However, the court does not agree. The court points to the fact that the ride must be read in light of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) because the CSA prohibits what the State Medical Marijuana Laws permit. By taking an action against private individuals, who are using, distributing, possessing, or cultivating medical marijuana, as allowed under the state law, the Federal Government is preventing the state law from giving practical effect. Therefore, § 542 does prohibit the Federal Government from spending funds on the prosecution of private individuals who have engaged in permitted conduct.



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