General Question

lilikoi's avatar

Is it still a federal offense to grow and sell marijuana if you are doing so within a state-sanctioned Medical Marijuana Program (MMP)?

Asked by lilikoi (10079points) March 21st, 2010

All signs point to yes, but I’m not sure.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

11 Answers

davidbetterman's avatar

Yes, there seems to be some stickiness to that point. Shame, too.

semblance's avatar

I am an attorney. Do not take this as creating an attorney-client relationship. I am just stating my personal opinion.

As lillycoyote and davidbetterman said, yes, it is still a federal offense to grow and sell any amount of marijuana even if you are legal under state law medical marijuana rules.

Having said that, the feds usually have guidelines and they won’t usually prosecute for growing less than a certain threshold size crop. I don’t know remember exactly what that amount is and it might be different in different parts of the country. If you have a medical marijuana grower’s permit or if you buy from someone who does the best way to find out is simply call up your state law enforcement agencies and ask them if they can tell you what size crop you can grow before the feds start looking at you seriously. You may have to call around for awhile, but you will eventually be able to get an answer. When I looked into this last year for a client, I just called the County Sheriff.

Remember, no one can promise you that the feds won’t bust you for growing an amount that is less than their threshold crop size. It is generally a safe bet, though, unless they bust you for something else.

dpworkin's avatar

Yes, but Obama’s AG has quit persecuting people who are obeying State laws.

thriftymaid's avatar

Youbetcha. Federal law is not affected by the laws in the states.

lillycoyote's avatar

@semblance , @dpworkin is right too. It certainly helps that Ashcroft and Gonzolez are out of the picture.

lilikoi's avatar

@thriftymaid I know that, I just wasn’t sure what the federal law was with respect to MMPs specifically. Thanks for the link @lillycoyote, and @semblance and @dpworkin for the replies. I’ve heard that about the Obama administration, too, but it seems like a dangerous line to walk since the law is still technically on their side, and the penalties are quite extreme….I wonder why no one has been able to overturn the federal law on this point? Apparently someone challenged constitutionality at the Supreme Court level, and that didn’t work out, but surely there is another angle that would be successful? Any ideas, @semblance? Incidentally, I just read an ABC News article about how a grower was hunted down by the DEA and is now facing life in prison because a county sheriff ratted him out to the DEA – the sheriff wasn’t allowed to press charges because the grower was within California law. What an asshole!

semblance's avatar

lilikoi and lillycoyote

I appreciate the point made by lillycoyote (great name, that!) and I concur with good riddance to Mr. Ashcroft and his even worse successor, Mr. Gonzales. Howver, I also agree with lillykoi that it is too vague and new to rely on the theory that the feds won’t prosecute people who obey state law. It’s better to get a handle on what the feds in your area think is a threshold amount where they will look at it. I believe that the idea behind the threshold is that if it is that size, it infers that drug dealing for profit is going on. At that point you’re not complying with state law either. So, best to be low key and cottage industry level if you are going to pursue that..

As for overturning the law in court, I don’t see a snowball’s chance in the proverbial hot place for that happening. The reach of the federal government’s commerce power is enormous and, as historically interpreted, clearly encompasses the power to regulate marijuana and other controlled substances. The law may be stupid, but that does not make it unconstitutional. The only way to change it is to get Congress to act. I don’t see much chance of that happening.

lillycoyote's avatar

@semblance A few things: 1. Just wondering, and you don’t have certainly should feel no obligation or pressure to answer these questions, but: What state do you live in? What is your interest in this? Are you a grower in a state that licenses people to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes or are you someone who needs or has/loves someone who needs marijuana for medicinal purposes? And, of course, as I said, you certainly don’t need to answer these questions if you don’t feel comfortable. 2. You have every reason to want to be cautious and careful, if not paranoid about the conflict between state and federal laws. All this don’t ask, don’t tell, the Obama administration is going to look the other way, with a nod and a wink regarding medical marijuana, until someone decides they aren’t going to look the other way with a nod and a wink. That’s really nonsense. As far as these laws are concerned, people are between a rock and a hard place and I don’t think anyone can be certain about anything here. You are wise to not take anything for granted. And 3: As to my name, I think there is a remote chance that @lilikoi and I might possibly be related. Lili + fish and Lilly + canine? Is it just a coincidence or is it maybe just how our respective ancestors shortened or Anglicized our surnames when they first arrived at Ellis Island? :)

lilikoi's avatar

@semblance From what I’ve been reading, constitutionality was challenged based on the 9th and 10th amendments and the basic argument was that possesion/growth/sale (not sure which it was) of marijuana was a victimless crime. All evidence I am aware of support this claim – I see no victims. How is it constitutional from this standpoint? I do not see the logic, although I do believe that it must be there somewhere.

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