Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Slams Feds’ Marijuana Stance As ‘Contradictory’ And ‘Unstable’

MJ moment

One of the most conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday denounced the federal government’s inconsistent approach to marijuana policy, suggesting that outright national prohibition may be unconstitutional. While the court declined to take up a new case related to an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigation into tax deductions claimed by a Colorado marijuana dispensary, Justice Clarence Thomas issued a statement that more broadly addressed the federal-state marijuana disconnect. He specifically discussed a 2005 ruling in Gonzales v. Raich, wherein the court narrowly determined that the federal government could enforce prohibition against cannabis cultivation that took place wholly within California based on its authority to regulate interstate commerce. “Whatever the merits of Raich when it was decided, federal policies of the past 16 years have greatly undermined its reasoning,” Thomas wrote. “Once comprehensive, the Federal Government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana.” “This contradictory and unstable state of affairs strains basic principles of federalism and conceals traps for the unwary,” he said, adding that “though federal law still flatly forbids the intrastate possession, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana…the Government, post-Raich, has sent mixed signals on its views.” Case in point: the Justice Department under President Barack Obama twice issued memorandums signaling that the government would tolerate certain marijuana-related activity if it’s lawful in the state where it took place. The so-called Cole memo laid out enforcement priorities for federal prosecutors, signaling that low-level cannabis offenses shouldn’t be pursued. Further, Thomas noted, Congress has repeatedly approved a spending bill rider that prohibits the Justice Department from using its funds to interfere in the implementation of state-level medical marijuana programs. “Given all these developments, one can certainly understand why an ordinary person might think that the Federal Government has retreated from its…

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Source : Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Slams Feds’ Marijuana Stance As ‘Contradictory’ And ‘Unstable’

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