Bill Would Lift Medical Marijuana Evidence Ban In Federal Court

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Americans for Safe Access
This photo was taken in 2003, at the time the first “Truth in Trials” Act was introduced. Rep. Sam Farr is depicted with Ashley Epis, the daughter of Bryan Epis, who is a patient convicted without a defense and currently serving out a 10-year sentence in federal prison.

Congressional Medical Marijuana Bill, the ‘Truth In Trials’ Act, Would Correct Unfair Federal Trials 


Late on Tuesday, U.S. Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) and 18 co-sponsors (15 Democrats and three Republicans) introduced HR 6134, the “Truth in Trials” Act, bipartisan legislation to allow defendants in federal criminal prosecutions the ability to use medical marijuana evidence at trial, a right not currently afforded them.
Because of a June 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales v. Raich, the government has the discretion to enforce federal marijuana laws even in medical marijuana states. The Raich ruling also allows federal prosecutors to exclude all evidence of medical use or state law compliance in federal trials, virtually guaranteeing the convictions of medical marijuana patients and providers.

“The federal government has tilted the scales of justice towards conviction by denying medical marijuana defendants the right to present all of the evidence at trial,” said Congressman Farr. “My bill would restore due process rights to law abiding citizens acting within the parameters of state and local laws. Juries should hear the entire story of a patient’s medical marijuana use before choosing to convict, not the heavily edited version they currently hear.”
“It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution or proceeding under any federal law for marijuana-related activities, which the proponent must establish by a preponderance of the evidence, that those activities comply with state law regarding the medical use of marijuana,” the bill states.
The bill further clarifies that defendants can only be found guilty of a federal offense related to marijuana that is determined to be for non-medical purposes, and also makes it harder for the government to seize and destroy marijuana and related paraphernalia, according to From The Trenches World Report.
The Truth in Trials Act is being introduced at a time of heightened federal activity on this issue. The Obama Administration has taken an unprecedented and overly-aggressive stance against medical marijuana, including hundreds of threats to criminally and civilly prosecute patients, providers, property owners, and even public officials attempting to pass their own public health laws.

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ASA
Steph Sherer, Americans for Safe Access: “The federal government should be leaving enforcement issues up to the local and state officials who designed the medical marijuana laws in the first place”

As a result of this policy, the Justice Department has indicted more than 70 people claiming to be compliance with state medical marijuana laws, which stands in stark contrast to earlier statements by Obama that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”
“The federal government should be leaving enforcement issues up to the local and state officials who designed the medical marijuana laws in the first place,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, a marijuana advocacy group which strongly supports the legislation. “But, as long as the Justice Department is going to arrest and prosecute people in medical marijuana states, defendants ought to have a right to a fair trial.”
The Obama Administration has far surpassed the rate at which the preceding administration was indicting and prosecuting people for trying to implement a state’s medical marijuana laws. During the Bush Administration, scores of people were convicted and received staggering sentences of up to 20 years in federal prison, without the ability to properly defend their actions.
“The ‘Truth in Trials’ Act will restore the balance of justice and bring fundamental fairness to federal medical marijuana trials,” Sherer said.
Most federal medical marijuana cases result in plea bargains due to the denial of a defense at trial. However, some defendants still choose to fight their charges.
Charles C. Lynch ran a dispensary in Morro Bay, California, with the support of the City Council and local Chamber of Commerce, but he was raided, prosecuted and convicted in 2008 without a defense. Although Lynch was accused by the federal government of violating state law, he could not use evidence to refute this at trial. Lynch was sentenced under the Obama Administration, but is currently released on bail pending his appeal, which is currently before the Ninth Circuit.
The photograph appended below was taken in 2003, at the time the first “Truth in Trials” Act was introduced. Rep. Sam Farr is depicted with Ashley Epis, the daughter of Bryan Epis, who is a patient convicted without a defense and currently serving out a 10-year sentence in federal prison.
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