A federal appeals court issued an opinion on Monday determining that a congressionally-approved provision can be invoked to block the Department of Justice from spending money to defend against appeals from people convicted of medical marijuana activity that was in compliance with state laws.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which previously ruled in 2016 that the budget rider (known commonly as “Rohrabacher-Farr” or § 542) protects people who are complying with state medical cannabis laws from being prosecuted for their activities, went even further in the current opinion.
The case at issue concerns Noah Kleinman, who was sentenced to federal prison for various federal marijuana-related crimes on December 8, 2014, just weeks before Congress approved the medical cannabis protections.
“Preliminarily, we clarify that the government’s approach to this case is mistaken,” the court wrote in the Monday opinion. “[Kleinman] argues that § 542 prohibits continued DOJ expenditures on his case since its enactment, which in this case refers to the DOJ’s ongoing litigation on appeal. We determined in [the 2016 ruling] that § 542