Legalization of marijuana in California easier said than done

The Los Angeles Times reports that passage of a measure to legalize marijuana in California means little if federal authorities decide to enforce nationwide drug laws.

However, as our Los Angeles marijuana defense lawyers have reported, an Obama Administration memo indicates that the U.S. Department of Justice has been told that enforcing federal law regarding marijuana is not a priority in states with conflicting state laws.

In other words, the feds have better things to do.

Proposition 19, which would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, will decide the issue on the November ballot. Supporters contend local governments can realize millions in tax dollars and legitimize the income now going to the illegal drug trade.

However, conflicts with federal law continue to arise, as cities like Berkley and Oakland are considering starting huge industrial growing operations, which is currently illegal under both state and federal law. As the Times points out, the federal Controlled Substances Act still makes it a felony to grow and sell cannabis. And any grower or seller filing paperwork with the state to pay taxes would, in effect, be confessing in writing to a federal felony.

Even the unofficial federal moratorium on enforcing marijuana laws relies upon exclusions for medical use. That’s because the illegalization of marijuana extends into international treaties the U.S. has entered into with other countries that have agreed to ban its production and sale. The Times reports that those treaties allow for an exclusion for medical use.

Additionally, with medical marijuana prices hovering at about the same level as prices on the black market, the federal government can take a pass on enforcing the law in California. However, some are concerned that a legalized non-medical cannabis industry in California would quickly fuel the illegal drug trade in the rest of the country.

If the cost of marijuana dropped to $40 an ounce, from a current price of about $300, what would that do to the illegal marijuana trade in the rest of the country? The Times reports that pot dealers from as far away as Canada would flock to California to stock up.

And the federal government could no longer afford to look the other way.

The CANNABIS LAW GROUP is a law firm dedicated to the rights of medical marijuana patients, collectives and growers and has built a reputation for high-powered, aggressive legal representation of the medical marijuana industry in Southern California. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.