US Supreme Court Asks For Brief from White House on Marijuana Legalization

While much of the nation is moving toward support of medical marijuana use and marijuana decriminalization and outright legalization, those in opposition to this are taking their case to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

ussupremecourt2.jpgIn a recent case, officials from Oklahoma and Nebraska are claiming Colorado’s landmark legalization of marijuana for recreational use is causing an increase in drug crimes in their respective states. Specifically, they claim the increase in drug trafficking in their states has caused a “dangerous gap in the federal drug control system.”

As our Riverfront County medical marijuana attorneys can explain, despite legalization or decriminalization in states across the county, including California, marijuana possession, sale, purchase, cultivation, and transportation is still in violation of federal law, as marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance pursuant to the United States Code. This means the federal government could choose to enforce these laws at any time by arresting anyone involved in the medical marijuana industry. They could also make it illegal to use bank accounts to hold any money earned as part of a medical marijuana enterprise, and they have, in fact, frozen accounts in the past.

Fortunately, the current administration has expressed a willingness to leave marijuana regulation up to the states and has ordered the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) not to make marijuana enforcement a priority in states that have enacted decriminalization or legalization. Though, it should be noted, the next administration may not choose to take a hands-off approach, which may demonstrate a need to remove the prohibition at the federal level, so the states can be free to deal with the issue pursuant to the wishes of their respective citizens.

With regard to this current lawsuit, SCOTUS has issued a CSVG order, which is an abbreviation for call for views of Solicitor General. The Solicitor General of the United States represents the United States’ interest in all civil legal matters of importance, much like the U.S. Attorney General is responsible for the administration of justice for the nation. Issuing a CSVG is not an uncommon step in cases of this type when federal policy is clearly at issue.

According to the Huffington Post, The substance of the state’s arguments is that by legalizing marijuana for recreational use, Colorado has acted unconstitutionally, because the Supremacy Clause provides federal law control, so long as it is enacted pursuant to an enumerated power of Congress. Since states such as Colorado can only legalize marijuana pursuant to state law, they must rely upon the U.S. Attorney General to choose not to enforce existing federal law. Essentially, the states’ argument is they are making something legal under state law, which is illegal under federal law, and, since the federal law is the supreme law of the land, this state law is unconstitutional.

On the other hand, the state attorney general for Colorado is arguing his state’s law is an entirely constitutional implementation of the wishes of the citizens of Colorado. The state law does not override the federal law in any way, as the administration still has the full power to enforce it any time.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
SCOTUS Seeks Feds’ Views On Marijuana Lawsuit Against Colorado , May 4, 2015, Huffington Post
More Blog Entries:
San Diego’s First Legal Marijuana Dispensary Opens Doors, April 5, 2015, Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Lawyer Blog