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United States v. Kleinman

880 F.3d 1020 (2018)

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United States v. Kleinman

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

880 F.3d 1020 (2018)

Facts

State law allowed individual patients in California to grow and possess marijuana for medical uses. State law also allowed these same patients to form groups to collectively grow and distribute marijuana to the group’s members for medical uses. However, the collective groups were not allowed to distribute marijuana to nonmembers or to anyone outside the state. Noah Kleinman and others (defendants) formed a medical-marijuana collective in California to sell medicinal marijuana. In 2010, undercover Los Angeles police officers purchased marijuana from the collective. The state filed criminal charges against Kleinman under state law, but the charges were dismissed. The federal government (plaintiff) then charged Kleinman and the others with violating federal laws. Five of the federal charges were based on illegally possessing and distributing marijuana, including one count alleging that Kleinman had distributed marijuana to out-of-state customers. A sixth charge alleged a violation of a federal money-laundering law. At trial, evidence was introduced that Kleinman had sold marijuana to customers in Pennsylvania and New York and had laundered money. A jury convicted Kleinman of all six charges, and he appealed. Shortly after Kleinman’s conviction, in December 2014, Congress passed a statute to provide annual funding for the Department of Justice (DOJ). This statute included a rider that prevented the DOJ from spending any funds to interfere with a state’s implementation of a medical-marijuana law. The rider’s purpose was to allow people to engage in whatever medical-marijuana conduct their state allowed without facing federal prosecution. On appeal, Kleinman argued that (1) the rider prevented the DOJ from prosecuting its case and (2) the trial court made mistakes that applied equally to all six convictions.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Smith, J.)

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