Federal Lawsuit Seeks To Halt Obama Administration’s Crackdown On California’s Medical Cannabis Patients And Providers

San Francisco, CA: Members of the NORML Legal Committee, led by Matt Kumin and David Michael from San Francisco and Alan Silber from Roseland, NJ, filed suit on Monday against the federal government in an effort to halt the Obama administration’s ongoing crackdown on medical cannabis producers and providers in California.

The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of various California patients, property owners, and cannabis dispensary operators, was brought simultaneously in all four federal districts in California — San Francisco (Northern), Sacramento (Eastern) Los Angeles (Central), and San Diego (Southern). In recent weeks, US Attorneys have threatened to criminally and civilly prosecute Californians who operate medical cannabis facilities and to seize the property of those landlords who rent to dispensary owners.

Plaintiffs are seeking a temporary restraining order barring the Justice Department from taking further action against state-authorized patients and their providers. They argue that the government’s actions are in violation of the Ninth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Plaintiffs also argue, using the theory of judicial estoppel, that the Justice Department had previously affirmed in federal court (WAMM et al v. Eric Holder et al.) that it would no longer use federal resources to prosecute cannabis patients or providers who are compliant with state law. Reversing that policy is tantamount to entrapment, the suit contends.

The defendants in the suits are Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, Michelle Leonhart, Administrator of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, and the US Attorneys from the four federal districts in California.

Justice Department officials have threatened to begin closing and prosecuting various California dispensary operations and/or their landlords this weekend.

A separate constitutional challenge, filed last month on behalf of the organization Americans for Safe Access, is also pending.

For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500. Text of plaintiffs’ complaint for declarative and injunctive relief is available online at: http://norml.org/pdf_files/brief_bank/2011_11_03_DOJ_Lit_Complaint_EDCA.pdf.