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United States of America v. Sean Michael Mcfarland

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF SOUTH DAKOTA SOUTHERN DIVISION


November 19, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SEAN MICHAEL MCFARLAND,
DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Karen E. Schreier Chief Judge

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS HIS INDICTMENT

Defendant, Sean Michael McFarland, moves to dismiss his indictment, which charges him with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. The government resists the motion. For the following reasons, McFarland's motion is denied.

McFarland is charged with knowingly and intentionally conspiring to distribute "more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846." Docket 78.

McFarland argues that the indictment against him should be dismissed because the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance "violates the due process clause and equal protection of the law pursuant to the Fifth Amendment." Docket 77-1 at 12. Nearly an identical argument was addressed in United States v. Fogarty, 692 F.2d 542 (8th Cir. 1982).*fn1 There, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recognized that a highly deferential standard of review applies "[b]ecause there is no fundamental constitutional right to import, sell, or possess marijuana[.]" Fogarty, 692 F.2d at 543. Thus, the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance "must be upheld unless it bears no rational relationship to a legitimate government purpose." Id.

There is a widely held "view among federal courts that the Schedule I classification of marijuana is rational and, therefore, not violative of equal protection or due process." Id. at 548 n.4. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has identified three reasons why this is so. First, the "ongoing vigorous dispute as to the physical and psychological effects of marijuana, its potential for abuse, and whether it has any medical value, supports the rationality of the continued Schedule I classification." Id. at 548. Second, the statutory criteria for "Schedule I classification set out in § 812(b)(1)-high potential for abuse, no medically accepted use, and no safe use even under medical supervision-should not be read as being either cumulative or exclusive." Id. Thus, even if marijuana does not fit perfectly within the statutory criteria, the Schedule I classification may still be rational "in view of countervailing factors such as the current pattern, scope, and significance of marijuana abuse and the risk it poses to public health." Id. Third, "Congress has provided a comprehensive reclassification scheme. . . . In establishing this scheme, Congress provided an efficient and flexible means of assuring the continued rationality of the classification of controlled substances, such as marijuana." Id. Because McFarland has not raised any original or unique arguments that are distinguishable from the reasoning applied in Fogarty, this court is bound by such holding.*fn2

McFarland also argues that "federal prohibition on cannabis cultivation is unconstitutional because it does not promote general welfare, interferes with liberty rights, and is contrary to justice and irrational."*fn3 Docket 77-1 at 77. The reasoning applied above can be equally applied here. Further, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals addressed this issue directly in Monson v. DEA. 589 F.3d 952 (8th Cir. 2009). There, the court recited the Supreme Court's determination in Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005) that "Congress has authority under the Commerce Clause to regulate marijuana that is grown and consumed intrastate[.]" Id. at 963. "Congress's decision to regulate the manufacture of all marijuana plants . . . was a rational means of achieving one of Congress's primary objectives: 'to control the supply and demand of controlled substances in both lawful and unlawful drug markets.' " Id. (quoting Gonzales v. Reich, 545 U.S. 1, 19 (2005)). Again, this court is bound by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals precedent.

Congress's decision to classify marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance does not violate the Fifth Amendment. Likewise, Congress's decision to prohibit the cultivation of cannabis is not unconstitutional. Accordingly, it is ORDERED that defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment (Docket 77) is denied.

BY THE COURT:

Karen E. Schreier


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