July 27, 2021

Justice Thomas says federal marijuana laws may be unnecessary

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas issued a strong dissent in a ruling on Monday that argued federal marijuana laws may no longer make sense.

“Many marijuana-related businesses operate entirely in cash because federal law prohibits certain financial institutions from knowingly accepting deposits from or providing other bank services to businesses that violate federal law. Cash-based operations are understandably enticing to burglars and robbers,” Thomas wrote in his dissent.

“But, if marijuana-related businesses, in recognition of this, hire armed guards for protection, the owners and the guards might run afoul of a federal law that imposes harsh penalties for using a firearm in furtherance of a ‘drug trafficking crime.’

“A marijuana user similarly can find himself a federal felon if he just possesses a firearm. Or petitioners and similar businesses may find themselves on the wrong side of a civil suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act,” he added.

According to the New York Post, “Since 2012, 18 states, two US territories and Washington, DC, have legalized recreational pot use and voters in a 19th state — South Dakota — voted for legalization, but the referendum is tied up in court.”

The dramatic state-level changes over the past decade have led some legislators to pursue federal changes regarding the legalization of marijuana.

The Biden administration has not supported the marijuana legalization effort. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had led and effort to federally legalize marijuana, but the bill lacks support in Congress from either party.

The legal marijuana movement remains controversial, but Thomas may be right. There soon may be no reason for the court to create laws for an activity that may soon be legal nationwide.

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