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United States v. Evans

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 9, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Jayde Dillon Evans, AKA Jayde D. Evans; Brice Christian Davis, AKA Brice C. Davis, Defendants-Appellants.

          Argued and Submitted March 27, 2019 San Francisco, California

          Appeal from the United States District Court No. 2:12-cr-00016-WFN-6 2:12-cr-00016-WFN-5 for the Eastern District of Washington Wm. Fremming Nielsen, District Judge, Presiding

          Nicolas V. Vieth (argued), Vieth Law Offices, Chtd., Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; David M. Miller (argued), Miller & Prothero, Spokane, Washington; for Defendants-Appellants.

          Timothy J. Ohms (argued), Assistant United States Attorney; Joseph H. Harrington, United States Attorney; United States Attorney's Office, Spokane, Washington; for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before: Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, Carlos T. Bea, and Michelle T. Friedland, Circuit Judges.

         SUMMARY [*]

         Criminal Law

         The panel affirmed the district court's judgment on remand denying a motion by two medical marijuana growers to enjoin their federal prosecutions for violations of the Controlled Substances Act.

         In the prior appeal, the panel held that a congressional appropriations rider prohibited the Department of Justice from spending appropriated funds to prosecute individuals who engaged in conduct permitted by state medical marijuana laws; and remanded to the district court with instructions to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the defendants' conduct was completely authorized by state law. On remand, the district court found that the defendants were not in strict compliance with Washington's Medical Use of Cannabis Act (MUCA).

         In this appeal, the panel held that because the appropriations rider authorizes the defendants to seek to enjoin prosecution, the defendants - not the Government - bear the burden of proof regarding whether the state's medical-marijuana laws completely authorized the defendants' conduct.

         Explaining that this court looks to the state law's substantive authorizations but not to the state's procedural rules that give practical effect to its medical-marijuana regime, the panel rejected the defendants' contention that the Government must procure a jury verdict of noncompliance in Washington State Court before it can prosecute them for their federal crimes.

         The panel held that the district court correctly refused to allow the defendants to assert "common law affirmative defenses," and correctly focused on the defendants' compliance with MUCA itself.

         Affirming the district court's factual finding that the defendants did not strictly comply with MUCA, the panel held that the district court did not clearly err in finding that the defendants, neither of whom claimed to be a "designated provider," were likewise not "qualified patients."

          OPINION

          O'SCANNLAIN JUDGE

         We must decide, once again, whether marijuana growers may enjoin federal prosecution in a state ...


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