In December, 2016, Massachusetts joined the growing list of states who have passed the legalization of recreational marijuana. As in the other states, recreational use is still illegal at the federal level, but the Department of Justice has been fairly hands-off, up until now. The Trump administration may increase federal enforcement of these laws, creating an uncertain future for recreational marijuana use in MA. If after reading this post you are still unsure about how these potential changes may impact you, consult with a Boston criminal defense attorney.
In a recent White House press conference, spokesperson Sean Spicer said the new administration is likely to play a bigger role in the enforcement of federal marijuana regulations. “I do believe you’ll see greater enforcement of it,” said Spicer. “Because again there’s a big difference between the medical use … that’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice will be further looking into.” He then went on to link marijuana use to opioid addiction:
“I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people, there’s still a federal law that we need to abide by in terms of … when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.”
Federal Law Trumps State Law
These statements from the White House, along with the appointment of the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions (an outspoken opponent of legalization) may indicate less leniency for recreational pot smokers in the coming months. When federal and state laws are in conflict, federal law takes the cake. As a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, marijuana possession and sales are still illegal at the federal level. A MA drug defense lawyer can help you determine if you’re at risk of criminal penalties.
Of course, cracking down on recreational pot use in states that have legalized it would be highly unpopular. Quinnipiac University recently conducted a survey and found that more than 70 percent of Americans do not agree with federal enforcement in states that have legalized recreational and medical marijuana. This may bode well for the future of federal enforcement, but only time will tell. Spicer failed to provide details about what an enforcement would actually look like. More optimistic folks hope that it will focus on illegal exportation to other states. “The biggest crackdown we may see is on the increase of cannabis being illegally exported out of recreational states,” said Nate Bradley, of the California Cannabis Industry Association. Let’s hope he’s right. Continue reading