Attorney says medical marijuana prosecutions are an attempt to 'veto' voter-approved law

2012-05-12T00:54:00Z 2013-02-01T13:18:05Z Attorney says medical marijuana prosecutions are an attempt to 'veto' voter-approved lawBy EVE BYRON Independent Record The Billings Gazette
May 12, 2012 12:54 am  • 

HELENA — A Helena lawyer is asking a federal court judge to throw out the charges against his client, saying that the U.S. Attorney’s office has no right to “veto” Montana voters’ approval of medical marijuana.

Michael Donahoe, a federal defense attorney, said that the federal government “selectively targeted” medical marijuana cultivators and dispensers like his client, Chris Williams, who is a founding member of Montana Cannabis. Donahoe is asking that the case against Williams be dropped.

In addition, Donahoe argues in court documents filed this week in U.S. District Court that the federal government’s prosecution of medical marijuana providers violates the U.S. Constitution by a “direct and intended” encroachment on Montana’s governmental rights under the “Guarantee Clause” of Article 4.

That clause states that the federal government shall guarantee every state a republican form of government, which means that people hold the power, not the government, and it can’t go against the will of the people. By prosecuting Williams after Montana voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing medical marijuana in the state, the federal government is overstepping its boundaries, Donahoe said.

He adds that 17 states already have decriminalized some use of medical marijuana, and 12 others have legislation pending to legalize it.

“If these states are added to the roster of jurisdictions allowing the use of medical marijuana the total will swell to 29, well over half of the jurisdictions in the United States,” Donahoe wrote, adding that he’s wondering if this “grassroots movement” at the state level ought to impact the federal government.

“The Constitution does not cast the states as mere puppets of the central federal government. The structure of our republic presupposes that the federal government is one of limited powers, not because it chooses to be, but because the Constitution says it is,” he wrote.

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