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Appeals court: DOJ can’t use federal funds to prosecute marijuana users who comply with state law

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The U.S. Department of Justice cannot spend money to prosecute federal marijuana cases if the defendants comply with state guidelines that permit the drug’s sale for medical purposes, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

The ruling, from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, comes as voters in nine more states will consider allowing the recreational use of marijuana this November.

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Twenty-five U.S. states currently allow for medical marijuana. While the sale of the drug is still illegal under federal law, Congress in 2014 passed a budget rule which prohibits the DOJ from using federal funds to interfere in the implementation of state marijuana regulations.

Due to this rule, defendants in 10 cases in California and Washington argued that their federal charges should be dismissed. The 9th Circuit in San Francisco, which covers nine Western states, ruled on Tuesday that the DOJ could not spend money as long as those defendants “strictly complied” with all state regulations.

The appeals court sent the cases back to lower courts to determine if the defendants had complied with state law.

A Justice Department spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

In November California and eight other states will consider whether to allow marijuana for recreational use. Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, as well as the District of Columbia, already permit it.

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The unanimous 9th Circuit ruling on Tuesday was issued by a three-judge panel, two of whom are Republican appointees with a history of pro-law enforcement opinions.

Despite the outcome, however, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote that medical marijuana purveyors should not feel immune from federal law.

“Congress could restore funding tomorrow, a year from now, or four years from now,” he wrote, “and the government could then prosecute individuals who committed offenses while the government lacked funding.”

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(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Alan Crosby)


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California cop shoots through his own windshield to kill suspect on his knees — after mistaking his hammer for a gun

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A police shooting in the California city of Vallejo has a community on edge, according to a report from NBC Bay Area.

Sean Monterrosa, 22, was kneeling when a Vallejo police officer shot and killed him. The shooting happened while police were trying to stop looters from invading a local Walmart.

"This individual appeared to be running toward the black sedan, but suddenly stopped, taking a kneeling position, and placing his hands above his waist, revealing what appeared to be the butt of a handgun," Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said.

But Monterrosa was carrying a hammer, not a gun.

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‘Party of Lincoln is dead, dead, dead’: Ex-House Republican lawyer says it’s time to give up on ‘hopeless’ GOP

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Former House Republican Congressional Committee Investigative Counsel Sophia Nelson this week published a scathing column about her former party in which she encouraged Americans to simply give up hope that it will ever properly serve as a check on President Donald Trump.

In her latest Daily Beast column, Nelson called the GOP "hopeless" and declared that "the party of Lincoln is dead, dead, dead" after so many of its members stayed silent in the wake of Trump's widely panned photo-op stunt at St. John's Church in Washington D.C.

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2020 Election

Pulitzer-winning historian issues dark warning about Trump’s GOP

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Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum fears President Donald Trump and his Republican allies might complete their authoritarian transformation by stealing November's election.

Applebaum appeared Thursday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" to discuss her latest column for The Atlantic, where she warns that Republicans have been complicit in Trump gathering authoritarian powers over democratic institutions -- and they may soon finalize that process.

"What would come next?" Applebaum said. "In a lot of liberalizing countries or countries that cease to be democracies, what comes next is the attempt to steal an election, and what I hope all Americans will be focused on over the next several months is will Trump and will the Republican Party collaborate in an attempt to steal this election?"

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