Justice Clarence Thomas recognizes flaws in federal marijuana laws
Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas may have opened the doors for removal of federal law concerning marijuana in a dissent issued Monday, June 28. Thomas’ dissent was attached to an opinion of the Court where they denied to hear a case concerning whether medical marijuana dispensaries could deduct business expenses before paying federal taxes. While many businesses enjoy this luxury, marijuana companies can’t deduct expenses so as long marijuana remains federally illegal.
Thomas also notes that there are other instances where federal law conflicts with marijuana retailers’ ability to conduct business. For example, many marijuana retailers such as marijuana dispensaries and marijuana deliveries must operate on a cash-only basis. This is due to the fact that many financial institutions refuse to knowingly accept deposits from businesses that violate federal law.
Cash-only businesses are highly attractive to burglars and robbers, who know that there are likely large sums of cash present in the retail shop. This may entice marijuana-related businesses to hire armed security. However, they would be in further legal trouble given the harsh penalties attached to using firearms in furthering a drug trafficking crime. Furthermore, marijuana users may find themselves as felons if they are even in possession of a firearm.
As of current, 18 states have legalized recreational marijuana use, plus two US territories and Washington DC. South Dakota will likely become the 19th state, though their referendum is tied up in court. Recent polls from both Gallup and Pew have consistently shown that over two-thirds of adult Americans support legalization of marijuana. This includes about half of Republicans.
The ball remains in President Joe Biden’s court. During his presidential campaign, he promised to release everyone currently serving time for marijuana-related offenses. However, in the past he has boasted about writing the 1994 Crime Bill while Senator, which continues to leave people behind bars without parole for marijuana-related offenses.