Federal vs. State Marijuana Laws

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State Marijuana Laws

In November 1996, California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. Currently, there are:

Federal Marijuana Laws

Under federal law, simple possession of marijuana is a crime punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1000 fine. However, the penalties increase drastically for growing and selling marijuana. The federal law punishes marijuana use for both recreational and medical purposes.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Medical marijuana dispensaries are places where patients and/or their caregivers go to receive or use marijuana for medical purposes. The federal government has specifically targeted the dispensaries with the position that the dispensaries are illegally distributing marijuana on a large scale to people who are not patients or their caregivers.

Conflict between State Law and Federal Law

Federal law clearly conflicts with many state laws concerning marijuana. Under the Preemption Clause of the Constitution, a federal law will always trump a state law. In simple terms, anyone on federal property, including national parks, will be subject to federal law.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have encountered criminal charges for possession or use of marijuana, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Both state and federal punishments for the illegal possession or use of marijuana can be very severe and have long lasting consequences. A criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights and can represent you during a trial.

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Last Modified: 08-27-2015 11:13 AM PDT

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