You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals Affirms Dismissal Of Lawsuits Filed On Behalf Of Marijuana Dispensaries

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In October and November 2011, lawsuits were filed in each of the four California federal judicial districts seeking to halt federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act against marijuana dispensaries on a variety of grounds. The suits claimed that the federal government could not take any legal action against dispensaries because such action was a violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, the Equal Protection Clause and the Commerce Clause. Following separate proceedings in each district, four different district court judges issued orders dismissing the cases. The plaintiffs in three of those cases appealed those decisions. Today, in an unpublished opinion, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissals in all three cases.

The United States Court for the Eastern District of California was the first district court to reject a dispensary’s lawsuit. The Eastern District action was filed at the end of 2011 by Sacramento Nonprofit Collective, doing business as El Camino Wellness Center, and Ryan Landers. It was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. on Feb. 28, 2012.

Benjamin Wagner, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California, said: “Our responsibility as U.S. Attorneys is to enforce the Controlled Substances Act. Today’s decision rejecting the dispensary’s lawsuit is a straightforward application of existing precedent, which merely confirms that the CSA continues to be in full force and effect, regardless of state law.”

In the United States Court for the Southern District of California, the lawsuit filed by Alternative Community Health Care Cooperative Inc. was dismissed on March 5, 2012 by U.S. District Court Judge Dana M. Sabraw. Laura E. Duffy, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California said: “The Ninth Circuit’s decision recognizes that U.S. Attorneys retain the right to enforce the CSA. We will continue to focus on federal interests in evaluating marijuana prosecutions in the Southern District of California, and will collaborate with our state and local partners to ensure the safety of our communities.”

The Ninth Circuit case is Sacramento Nonprofit Collective v. Holder,
Case No. 12-15991.

Updated April 8, 2015