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August 30, 2013

The Federal Government Backs Off Marijuana Enforcment – Finally

By Michael H. Joseph

With an increase in States decriminalizing marijuana for medical use and others completely legalizing the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, an open issue has been what the Federal Government will do, with marijuana being legal under State law, but illegal under Federal Law. Recently, New York City’s mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. The Justice Department announced that they will not challenge the state laws that permit medical and recreational use of marijuana as long as the drug sales do not conflict with federal enforcement priorities.

The Federal priorities which the Federal government will continue to enforce Federal marijuana laws where they implicate the distribution of marijuana to minors and sales that assist or act as cover for trafficking operations. While the Federal Law is not being changed to change marijuana’s classification as an illegal drug, it will prevent the senseless prosecution of users, such as cancer patients and those trying to help them. This is a step in the right direction, although the government should recognize that marijuana does have medicinal value and the dangers of recreational use are largely overstated and have more to do with politics than science or rationality. In the meantime, marijuana remains illegal in the State of New York and our New York City and Westchester drug offense lawyers will continue to defend those who are charged with drug crimes, because they are the victim of the times.

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