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United States v. Stacy

March 2, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAMES DEAN STACY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING MOTIONS TO DISMISS INDICTMENT

Defendant James Dean Stacy has filed (1) a motion to dismiss the Indictment because it is in violation of the Tenth Amendment; (2) a motion to dismiss the Indictment as a violation of due process; and (3) a motion to dismiss the Indictment because the prosecutor is acting in direct conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice policy. On January 20, 2010, the Court held a hearing on Defendant's motions. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motions to dismiss the Indictment are DENIED.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

From June 2009 until September 2009, Defendant operated what he claims was a "medical marijuana collective" called "Movement in Action," located at 1050 South Santa Fe Avenue, Vista, California. According to Defendant, he took great care to make sure that his cooperative was formed and operated in compliance with California law, specifically the Compassionate Use Act ("CUA") and the Medical Marijuana Program Act ("MMPA"), Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 11362.5, et seq., 11362.7.

In July and August of 2009, Defendant sold marijuana on three separate occasions to an undercover detective from the San Diego Sheriff's Office. Each time, Defendant charged $60 for an eighth of an ounce of marijuana.

On September 9, 2009, there was a county-wide raid, which resulted in the arrests of Defendant and thirteen other individuals who operated collectives in San Diego. DEA agents executed search warrants at Defendant's home and business, seizing 96 marijuana plants, marijuana-laced food products, marijuana-related equipment and paraphernalia, business records, and a fully-loaded FEG semi-automatic pistol.

In an Indictment filed on October 7, 2009, Defendant was charged with (1) conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846; (2) manufacturing 96 marijuana plants in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); and (3) possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1).

II. DISCUSSION

Defendant contends that these criminal proceedings against him are in direct conflict with the Fifth and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. As discussed below, the Court is not persuaded by Defendant's arguments.

A. Tenth Amendment Claim

Defendant argues that by prosecuting him and others like him, the federal government is subverting state medical marijuana laws in violation of the Tenth Amendment. Specifically, Defendant alleges that the federal government "commandeered" state officials to "recriminalize medical marijuana."

The Tenth Amendment provides that "[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." Under the Tenth Amendment, Congress may not simply "commandeer the legislative processes of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program." New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 161 (1992) (quoting Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Reclamation Ass'n Inc., 452 U.S. 264, 288 (1981)). See also Printz v. United States, 52 U.S. 898, 925 (1997) ("[T]he Federal Government may not compel the States to implement, by legislation or executive action, federal regulatory programs.")

As an initial matter, Defendant lacks standing to allege a Tenth Amendment violation. In Tenn. Elec. Power Co. v. Tenn. Valley Auth., 306 U.S. 118 (1939), the Supreme Court rejected an argument by state-chartered utility companies that the sale of electrical power by a federally-chartered corporation, which drove down electricity rates, amounted to federal regulation in violation of the Tenth Amendment. The Supreme Court reasoned that the sale of government property in competition with others is not a violation of the Tenth Amendment. The Supreme Court continued:

As we have seen there is no objection to the Authority's operations by the states, and, if this were not so [i.e., if the sale of government property in competition with others constituted a violation of the Tenth Amendment], the appellants, absent the states or their officers, ...


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