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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

New Mexican Caught|in a ‘Catch-420’

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (CN) - The Border Patrol forces a medical marijuana patient to break a law every time he passes a checkpoint, the man claims in Federal Court.

The only choice he has, Raymundo Marrufo says, is whether to violate a state law or a federal one.

Marrufo suffers from PTSD and has been prescribed medical marijuana under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, New Mexico's medical marijuana program. To get his medicine, Marrufo must drive past a permanent Border Patrol checkpoint. There, a Border Patrolman asks him: "Do you have any illegal drugs?"

Because marijuana is a Schedule I drug under federal law, it is illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. So if Marrufo answers "Yes," he risks being charged as a drug smuggler, but if he answers "No," he could be charged with lying to a federal government agent.

In the Nov. 30 lawsuit, Marrufo says the Border Patrol's standard question violates the Rohrabacher Amendment, a federal law which precludes any federal agency from using federal funds to enforce any laws that interfere with state medical marijuana laws.

"This is a clash that has been in the making since the states legalized marijuana and the federal government began its drug war," Marrufo's attorney Jason Flores-Williams told Courthouse News.

"We see this as the end of the drug war and the reaffirmation of personal freedoms in this country. Moreover, medical cannabis users have the right to have their problems treated without interference by the federal government or harassment by the U.S. Border Patrol. Pursuant to the law, we fully expect to prevail on this injunction, as it is a violation of the Rohrabacher Amendment."

The Border Patrol did not immediately reply to an email inquiry sent after business hours Monday.

Marrufo seeks a permanent injunction ordering the Border Patrol to stop cease questioning U.S. citizens about medical marijuana in any and all states where medical marijuana is legal.

Flores-Williams' office is in Denver.

Marijuana advocacy groups have adopted 420 in many slogans, though the origin of the number is subject to controversy.

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