Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act
POL201: American National Government (ACK1431C)
Instructor: Benjamin Copeland
August 12, 2014
MDPV is an ingredient in bath salts, a street drug that causes paranoia and hallucinations and waves of terror and frightening delusions. Bath salts are an illicit drug, but much more dangerous than other illicit drugs including crystal meth, cocaine, ecstasy, PCP, heroin, etc. Marijuana is a plant and the flowering buds of the plant is smoked for the active ingredient, THC. THC produces euphoria, due to the release of dopamine. While some American’s agree with the federal prohibition of marijuana, a larger majority of Americans think marijuana should be legalized. First, we will look at the current Federal Marijuana laws and punishments, and the fact that the Federal marijuana laws are extremely serious, and penalties for those found guilty are extremely steep. Then, we will look at reasons the Federal law causes conflict with state laws, and then we will look at why some believe marijuana should be legalized, and others do not. Under federal law, marijuana is treated the same as bath salts, meth, heroin, and cocaine. In other words, the federal government categorized marijuana with the most dangerous of illicit drugs. These drugs are classified as a Schedule I drug, however, marijuana control is top priority of the National Drug Control Policy (Blumenson, Nilsen, 2010). Under federal law, there are two types of sentencing laws: sentencing laws, and mandatory sentencing laws. Over 1 kg of marijuana carries a six to twelve month sentence. Over 2.5 kg, with a prior conviction carries 2-3 years in jail (Americans for Safe Access, 2014). Mandatory minimum for possession of 100kg, or cultivation of 100 plants is 5 years, or 10 years with a prior conviction. Mandatory minimum for possession of 1000kg, or 1000 plants is ten-years, or twenty-years with one prior conviction, and a life sentence with two prior convictions (Americans for Safe Access, 2014). Offenders could even be forced to forfeit their land, house, or bank accounts to the law enforcement agency even if the seizure is in violation of federal law. Under prohibition laws local police and the DEA are allowed to seize property and financial assets without due process, or a trial. There is a federalism crisis due to a conflict between the Federal Prohibition Act within the Controlled Substance Act, and the states that have legalized marijuana. Several states have legalized marijuana for both, medical and recreational purposes, which have thrown state governments into confusion because their legalization laws conflicts with the Controlled Substance Act (Schwartz, 2013). Federalism doctrines most related to the federalism crisis generate opposing answers to the arrest-and-seizure question. The Tenth Amendment anti-commandeering doctrine states federal laws are unable to compel state legislatures or law officers to arrest or charge violators of CSA’s marijuana policy. On the other hand, the Supremacy Clause imposes that all state officials are to enact, enforce state law, but not to obstruct federal law operations (Schwartz). In states that legalized marijuana, officers are expected to not arrest individuals that are following marijuana related laws, and in some cases, courts ordered marijuana seized from an individual legally entitled to possess it, to be returned. However, such state police feared returning the marijuana, even though legally entitled to possess it, would violate prohibition of marijuana. Police are not the only State Executive Officials riddled with anxiety and uncertainty. Prosecutors as well as Bureaucratic administrators are responsible for professions involved with legalization of marijuana, lawyers and doctors, and they all face the fact that they could be charged criminally under the CSA. Courts also face issues while pondering on revoking a parolee, or...
References: Blumenson, E. & Nilsen, E. (2010, January, 1). Liberty lost: The moral case for marijuana lawreform. Indiana Law Journal: Vol. 85: Issue 1, Article 7. Retrieved from http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/ilj/vol85/iss1/7
Gootenberg, P. (2009). Talking about the Flow: Drugs, Borders, and the Discourse of Drug Control. University of Minnesota Press. Retrieved from the jstor database.
Miller, D. E. (2012, August, 31). Narcotic and marihuana controls. Chief Councel, U. S. Bureau of Narcotics. Retrieved from the EBSCOhost database.
Schwartz, D. S. (2013, March, 21). High Federalism: Marijuana Legalization and the Limits of Federal Power to Regulate States. Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 35, NO. 567, 2013. University of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1222. Retrieved from the ProQuest database.
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