House Passes Bill to Prevent Federal Interference with State Medical Marijuana Laws: What Does it Mean for Michigan Medical Marihuana Program?

On May 30, 2014, the House passed amendment 748 to HR 4660 that would prevent the Department of Justice from using funds to “prevent certain States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

This means that individuals who possess or grow marijuana in compliance with Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Act or other state medical marijuana laws, should not be subjected to DOJ or DEA enforcement.  Currently more than 20 states have legalized medical marijuana.

The amendment must still be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President.  Additionally, marijuana will continue to be a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act.  Also, it does not appear that this amendment will prevent the DEA from investigating medical marijuana users for conduct that is not compliant with state laws.  To the extent that such an investigation is permitted, the amendment does not include language that would safeguard information held by state medical marijuana programs.

In June 2011, in the case of U.S. v. Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan permitted the DEA to subpoena such records from MDCH related to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program.  This was despite the MMMA containing a confidentiality provision that included criminal penalties when the information of patients and caregivers who are registered users is disclosed.  In this case, the Court recognized the federal government did not intend to occupy the field of drug enforcement, but ultimately determined the Supremacy Clause allowed the federal government to subpoena the records that were by state law confidential.

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