Sunday, December 9, 2012

Is Marijuana Legal in Some States? Is it REALLY Legal? What About Federal Law?

It’s difficult to keep tabs on the status of Marijuana in the United States.  Laws are fluid.  Both Federal and State.  They change.  And change is good, you know. 

Speaking of change...allow me to digress.

When distilleries make bourbon, they put clear corn whiskey into barrels.  More specifically, the colorless elixir is poured into charred, virgin white oak.  In that charred barrel, the whiskey will stay for years.  Kentucky has the perfect climate for storing bourbon.  In the summer temperatures can reach over 100 degrees.  In the winter, we can bottom out below zero.  This drastic temperature difference allows the bourbon barrels to expand, contract, expand, contract, etc.  While the bourbon barrels expand, they allow the clear whiskey inside to seep into the walls of the charred oak, and then in the winter, the contraction of the barrels forces the booze back out of the walls.  This is how bourbon picks up its deep brown color, and the delicious flavors of vanilla, caramel, and smoke.  Kentucky is perfect for Bourbon.

And it isn’t just the climate.  Any distiller worth their salt will tell you that good bourbon starts off with good, pure water.  Kentucky has copious amounts of limestone in the ground.  You may already know that limestone is easily eroded, and that’s why Kentucky has more than its share of underground cave systems (underground rivers erode the limestone away to form caves).  But did you know that limestone makes for good water?  It is a very basic substance (in the ph sense of the term “basic”) which balances out the acidity in rainwater.

For that reason, Kentucky is also perfect for marijuana.  Acidity is the natural arch-nemesis of marijuana.  Indoor growers who know what they’re doing constantly monitor ph level to make sure their babies grow up to be big and strong.  Outdoor growers in Kentucky have it made.  The soil is good and is typically naturally ph balanced for marijuana growth.  Because of the limestone.  Maybe that’s why Kentucky has been the 3rd highest marijuana producing state in the union (behind only California and Tennessee).  Even though we have only 1.5% of the population, we produce 10% of the nation’s marijuana.  Imagine how many jobs would be created here in the Bluegrass State…

All of the preceding statistical information is now outdated.  So forget all of the BS I just spewed.  The recent legalization (or more accurately, “decriminalization”) of marijuana in multiple states is most certainly spawning increased marijuana production in those states.

The most courageous change has come from Colorado and Washington State.  Both states have enacted legislation concerning personal use for any purpose (not just medicinal marijuana).  It is now “legal” to possess marijuana in those states, for personal use.  But how legal is “legal?”

Technically, it isn’t legal at all.

You see, federal law still prohibits the possession of marijuana.  The leafy green plant is classified as a Schedule I Narcotic.  Like cocaine.  Our federal government’s official stance is that marijuana has high potential for abuse (addiction) and that the plant has NO Medicinal value.  The federal government prohibition does not allow personal use, and it does not have an exception for those people suffering from chronic pain or nausea (for just a couple of examples) and have been approved by a doctor for medicinal use.  Marijuana is still illegal.

Federal law trumps state law.

So even though Colorado and Washington say that you can possess a small amount of marijuana for personal use, it is still illegal to possess marijuana in Colorado, Washington, or any other state.  The difference, is that – at least for the time being – the Obama administration seems to be treating Marijuana regulation as a “State’s Rights” issue.  And the DEA seems to be staying out of the way.

Yes, possession of a small amount of marijuana is legal on the state level in Colorado and Washington.  No, the federal legislation outlawing marijuana has not been repealed.  So it is still illegal.

There you have it.  Clear as mud.

Simms & Reed, PLLC.  
Individual Attention.  Extraordinary Results.

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