Today, approximately 60 percent of Americans have a favorable view of marijuana legalization compared with just 15 percent who had this view in the 1970s. An increasing number of states have passed laws permitting the cultivation, sale and use of medical marijuana and there are even five states now where recreational marijuana is legal (Colorado, California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada). Although much of this change has taken place on the state level, there have been encouraging signs that the federal government is rethinking how it treats cannabis.
However, as Fox Business reports, the friendlier climate for liberalizing marijuana laws may be coming to an end. In fact, advocates are now concerned that a new “war on marijuana” could be starting. If it does and the federal government begins to crack down on cannabis, and even go after businesses operating within states where marijuana is legal, many individuals and businesses will suffer. More incarceration and a host of other undesirable consequences could result.
Those caught up in criminal investigations will need to make certain they protect their rights, especially if the federal government begins to take a harder line on enforcing drug laws against marijuana users. A Schenectady drug defense lawyer should be consulted for help.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had considered changing how marijuana is classified under federal law this past summer, potentially removing marijuana from the list of Schedule I controlled substances. Schedule I drugs are the most tightly controlled and some of the most serious penalties exist for crimes involving Schedule I drugs because they are not considered to have a medical purpose.
Unfortunately, the DEA was not able to take this action because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could not provide scientific proof of the benefits of marijuana as medicine. This means marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance.
Advocates are now worried about the impact this could have, as President Elect Trump has indicated he will be appointing Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. While Sessions' appointment is not a sure thing, it seems like he will be AG due to changes to procedural rules on the filibuster during the prior senate session that made it harder for democrats to block the republican senate majority from approving cabinet appointments.
The problem is, Sessions has been very vocal about his opposition to legal marijuana. He has described cannabis as a “real danger,” specifically stating that “good people don't smoke marijuana” and he has applauded the war on drugs that was launched by Ronald Reagan.
One of the things that’s important to note here is that it is the AG who has a leading role in determining what enforcement priorities the DEA, FBI and U.S. Attorneys pursue, so there is concern he may start encouraging agencies to prioritize enforcement of federal laws prohibiting marijuana.
If politics change and you find yourself facing aggressive prosecution as a result of a crime involving cannabis or any controlled substances, it is important to contact The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC as soon as possible for help. Reach out today to get a legal advocate on your side.