In 2015 Congress approved a budget amendment that prohibited the Justice Department from using any funds to enforce federal marijuana laws against medical cannabis. But no such prohibition exists against enforcing federal pot laws against recreational marijuana.
Former pot smoker Obama and then Attorney General Eric Holder ordered the DEA to prioritize drug enforcement on prohibited substances other than marijuana.
In the absence of a federal crackdown in Colorado and Washington, other states have now legalized recreational pot, including the biggie, California.
Under federal law, marijuana is considered a Schedule I substance and it is illegal to use, possess, cultivate, or distribute.
Federal penalties for possessing small amounts of pot:
- First offense: a misdemeanor involving up to a year of incarceration and a $1,000 fine,
- Second offense: a misdemeanor involving a mandatory minimum of 15 days (and up to two years) of incarceration and a $2,500 fine, and
- Third offense or more: a misdemeanor or felony involving a mandatory minimum of 90 days (and up to three years) of incarceration and a $5,000 fine.
Federal penalties for growing and selling pot:
- Less than 50 plants or 50 kg: felony involving up to five years of incarceration and a $250,000 fine,
- 50-99 plants or kilograms: felony involving up to 20 years of incarceration and a $1,000,000 fine,
- 100-999 plants or kilograms: felony involving 5-40 years of incarceration and a $500,000 fine, and
- 1,000 or more plants or kilograms: felony involving between 10 years to life and a $1,000,000 fine.
Under the Constitution, federal laws apply whenever there is a conflict between state laws and federal laws.
Last October, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated the feds would crack down on violators of the federal marijuana laws. He must have been blowing smoke because so far there is no evidence the DEA is getting ready to move on Colorado, Washington and the other states which have legalized recreational pot, including now biggie California.
If the feds do not crack down on violations of federal marijuana laws, especially in California, they will open the floodgates that have been holding back the legalization of marijuana and America will go to pot.
There is plenty of scientific evidence that marijuana is a harmful substance. If the U.S. goes to pot, Americans will come to rue that the feds did not crack down when they had the chance.