Five years ago, the DEA raided a Humboldt County weed farm owned by Anthony Pisarski and Sonny Moore. On the 242 remote acres of land, the authorities found 320 growing weed plants, loaded firearms and more than $225,000 in cash, as well as gold and silver bars.
Pisarski and Moore pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiring to manufacture and sell weed and were awaiting sentencing, but a ruling last week by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg may have offered the duo a new lifeline. Seeborg ruled that the prosecution must call off the case because of a budget rule in Congress that bans the feds from interfering in states where medical pot is legal.
The ruling is based on a 2014 amendment to an appropriations bill made by US Reps Dana Rohrabacher and Sam Farr (retired) forbidding the Department of Justice from using funds in a way that obstructed states “from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
According to the LA Times:
Last year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that defendants in California and other states in the court’s jurisdiction with medical marijuana laws were entitled to a hearing to determine whether they had been in compliance with those state laws. If defendants could demonstrate that they had abided by state rules, prosecutors were to be blocked from pursuing federal drug charges, the court said.
Last month, Seeborg held a hearing for Pisarski and Moore. Their attorneys argued the marijuana plants the men grew were earmarked for two nonprofit collectives that distributed it to its members in line with California regulations. In a court filing, Pisarski told the judge he needed guns at the house to protect himself against “mountain lions, pigs with big teeth and bears” when he was outside at night.
The feds argued that Pisarski and Moore had not proven that all members of their collective were legitimate and that the guns, cash and gold implied that the men planned to sell the bud for profit. On Tuesday, the judge sided with Pisarski and Moore, stating that they did not have to prove that members of their collective were qualified. Seeborg also ruled that the guns and cash could indicate a criminal operation, but were “equally consistent with the operation of a rural, cash-intensive enterprise.”
Since Pisarski and Moore pleaded guilty, it is uncertain what will ultimately happen to them. Either the U.S. attorney for Northern California will dismiss the case or wait for Congress to change its mind.