When It Comes to Weed, the Federal Government Still Rules
Across the country, marijuana laws are trending toward the liberal. Marijuana is being permitted for medicinal use and, in some states, recreational use. In fact, 44 states as of 2017 have legalized the use of the herb for medicinal purposes. In other states, having a small, personal amount of marijuana on your person is no longer a crime, carrying only small fines. In yet eight other states and the District of Columbia, having a small amount for personal use carries no penalty at all.
No matter what state laws say, the federal government hasn’t caught up. As we all learned in high school, federal law often trumps state law. As far as the federal government is concerned, possessing any amount of marijuana is a crime. It is also prohibited to cultivate or sell the drug. In some cases, people who have been caught and convicted will spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
How the Federal Government Enforces Marijuana Laws
Marijuana dispensaries are present, and legal, in several states. People enter these dispensaries to purchase marijuana for legal use. Several years ago, the federal government hit these retailers hard, resulting in the closure of many. In 2013, the government released a memo encouraging enforcement targeted on operations that:
- Sell marijuana to persons under the age of 18;
- Are affiliated with cartels or gangs;
- Participated in or covered for illegal activity;
- Used firearms or violence, or
- Grew the plant on lands belonging to the public.
Now that a new, more conservative administration is in place, people are wondering how the cultivating, selling and use of marijuana will be restricted. Will the federal government maintain its historically tough stance, or will it respect state laws? After all, marijuana is designated as a Schedule I drug, alongside methamphetamines and cocaine.
What Can You Do?
Because of all the uncertainty surrounding this topic, it is highly recommended that any person who is involved in the legal cultivating and distribution of marijuana within their state have a criminal defense attorney on retainer in case the federal government cracks down on weed.
Even in the case of no current investigation or pending arrest, it is important to be armed with information. For example, in Georgia, medical marijuana is legal, but only under very specific circumstances — and its cultivation is still illegal within state borders. A criminal defense attorney can advise you of the best course of action to protect yourself in the event you are placed under investigation, whether by state or federal government agencies.
If you have been arrested and charged for the possession, cultivation or distribution of marijuana in Atlanta, you are facing serious consequences. Reach out to our team at your earliest convenience. We will review the details of the investigation and charges and advise you of your legal options. You could be facing both state and federal charges, and the consequences of a conviction could be life altering. We will help you understand your rights, and we will represent you in court if it becomes necessary to do so.