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Appeals Court Confronts Clash Over Pot Laws, and Feds Win

A federal appeals panel on Friday affirmed a Minnesota district court’s ruling that bars a felon from using state-legal medical marijuana while he is on supervised release.

Three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit said that although prescription medical marijuana has been legal in Minnesota since 2014, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank “correctly concluded” that John Edward Schostag’s use “even for medical purposes … contravenes federal law.”

“Accordingly, we conclude the district court had no discretion to allow Schostag to use medical marijuana while on supervised release,” Circuit Senior Judge Michael Melloy wrote. His five-page opinion was joined by Judges Bobby Shepherd and recent Trump appointee L. Steven Grasz.

The new ruling reflects the state-federal conflict over marijuana that courts are grappling with at both levels.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York said in a ruling that he would no longer send defendants on supervised release to jail solely for using marijuana. Weinstein said such jail orders serve “no useful purpose” for defendants who are otherwise rehabilitated.

“As a result of these errors in our sentencing practice, money and the time of our probation officers are wasted and supervisees are unnecessarily burdened,” Weinstein wrote. [Read More @ Law.com]

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