Federal court rejects challenge to California pot dispensary closures

Jan. 15, 2014 at 3:40 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The federal government has the right to close down medical-marijuana dispensaries in California, an appeals court panel ruled Wednesday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the contention that dispensaries operating legally under California state law should be protected from prosecution by federal authorities. who consider marijuana sales to be illegal regardless of state laws.

The three-judge panel in San Francisco said in its unpublished opinion that issuing an injunction against the U.S. Justice Department blocking the prosecution of dispensaries "would compromise a governmental interest in enforcing the law."

The Sacramento Bee said the court rejected the constitutional grounds argued by attorneys for dispensary owners, landlords and customers. The judges cited a 2007 opinion from the 9th Circuit as the reason for turning down the challenge.

Medical marijuana is legal in California; however selling pot remains a federal crime. As a result, dispensaries throughout the state have raided and closed down by the Justice Department.

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