Marijuana Laws in Colorado & California

sviato

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Oct 27, 2010
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I was in a small argument recently with some pre-law student over marijuana laws in Colorado and California. We're both from Canada so I don't know US law that well, so I'm hoping you guys can help clear this up (maybe with some sources):

- regarding the legalization of weed in Colorado, I was saying that it's good that the Federal government hasn't stepped in to block the legalization so that we can see the social and economic effects etc. The guy I was talking to said that Federal law couldn't override State law so it didn't matter if Obama wanted to block the legalization. I was under the impression that drugs are regulated by the federal government so it has final say?

- the guy was saying weed in California is legal. As far as I know, it's allowed for medical reasons although it isn't difficult to get a card but it's not completely "legal" as in you can't grow your own and they've been shutting down weed stores.

I've done a bit of Googling and I think I'm right on both points. Can anyone confirm what is correct?
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
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You are correct.

The federal government can't stop Colorado from enacting a law. They can sue them if they so choose on the legality of the law or they can choose to enforce federal laws.
 

Technarchy

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May 21, 2012
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Federal law trumps state law on this matter.

New president could come in tomorrow and send in the DEA and FBI to shut down the growers and throw them in federal prison for a long time.

Anyone getting involved in this business is taking a big chance. I don't think your occasional toker has much to worry about. They are small fish, but if the feds want a reason to violate you so they can get a closer look at other activities, than they can use possession as a means to make that happen.
 

Southern Dad

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May 23, 2010
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Exactly, as Technarchy says... A new administration could result in a crackdown on those in Colorado selling marijuana. There would be arrests and convictions in short order. Those people could quickly be serving time. State laws trump County, Federal trump State.
 

jkcerda

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Jun 10, 2013
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Federal law trumps state law on this matter.

New president could come in tomorrow and send in the DEA and FBI to shut down the growers and throw them in federal prison for a long time.

Anyone getting involved in this business is taking a big chance. I don't think your occasional toker has much to worry about. They are small fish, but if the feds want a reason to violate you so they can get a closer look at other activities, than they can use possession as a means to make that happen.
Exactly, as Technarchy says... A new administration could result in a crackdown on those in Colorado selling marijuana. There would be arrests and convictions in short order. Those people could quickly be serving time. State laws trump County, Federal trump State.
good reasons not to elect a chicken hawk republican who wants to impose his "morality" on others :eek:
 

jkcerda

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zin

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May 5, 2010
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Exactly, as Technarchy says... A new administration could result in a crackdown on those in Colorado selling marijuana. There would be arrests and convictions in short order. Those people could quickly be serving time. State laws trump County, Federal trump State.
Doubt it, given that, in the states with legalised weed, state law enforcement would probably not help the Federal Government with the arrests, and the U.S. Government doesn't have anywhere near enough resources to enforce this law itself.

That, and the Federal Government cannot compel state authorities to enforce federal law.
 

Southern Dad

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May 23, 2010
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Doubt it, given that, in the states with legalised weed, state law enforcement would probably not help the Federal Government with the arrests, and the U.S. Government doesn't have anywhere near enough resources to enforce this law itself.

That, and the Federal Government cannot compel state authorities to enforce federal law.
The federal government has its own enforcement. Ever hear of the FBI?
 

zin

macrumors 6502
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The federal government has its own enforcement. Ever hear of the FBI?
The Federal Government does not have anywhere near the resources to enforce this law itself.

Unless you would prefer a good chunk of Department of Justice resources going towards locking up weed smokers in Colorado and Washington, and taking up spaces in federal prisons.
 

Southern Dad

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May 23, 2010
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The Federal Government does not have anywhere near the resources to enforce this law itself.

Unless you would prefer a good chunk of Department of Justice resources going towards locking up weed smokers in Colorado and Washington, and taking up spaces in federal prisons.
Not the weed smokers. The weed sellers. You nail the distributors and the whole thing grinds to a halt.
 

sviato

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Oct 27, 2010
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HR 9038 A
Thanks for the replies. Anyone got a good source to back up the claim that the Federal government trumps state law in this case? If the Fed can't prevent the State from enacting a law (as said in the 2nd post), how would it go about to block it?
 

Renzatic

Suspended
Not the weed smokers. The weed sellers. You nail the distributors and the whole thing grinds to a halt.
The government tried that shortly after weed became legal in Colorado. It didn't go over so well for them.

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Thanks for the replies. Anyone got a good source to back up the claim that the Federal government trumps state law in this case? If the Fed can't prevent the State from enacting a law (as said in the 2nd post), how would it go about to block it?
Off the top of my head, the Supremacy Clause would be the first and best place to look.
 

chown33

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Aug 9, 2009
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If the Fed can't prevent the State from enacting a law (as said in the 2nd post), how would it go about to block it?
The Federal govt would sue the State in Federal court, and possibly request an injunction to bar enforcement of the State law. For a somewhat recent example, see Arizona's SB 1070:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arizona_SB_1070
The Act was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010.[2] It was scheduled to go into effect on July 29, 2010, ninety days after the end of the legislative session.[23][24] Legal challenges over its constitutionality and compliance with civil rights law were filed, including one by the United States Department of Justice, that also asked for an injunction against enforcement of the law.[25] The day before the law was to take effect, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the law's most controversial provisions.[26] In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the case Arizona v. United States, upholding the provision requiring immigration status checks during law enforcement stops but striking down three other provisions as violations of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.[27]​

Also see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_cannabis_in_the_United_States
 

zin

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Not the weed smokers. The weed sellers. You nail the distributors and the whole thing grinds to a halt.
So you're saying you support federal agents closing down state-authorised pharmacies?

Colorado brought in a hefty sum of weed tax revenue last year. I don't think they'd be too happy about federal agents coming in to disrupt that, and I don't think Colorado citizens would be too happy about it either.

It seems that (federal) crime does pay. ;)
 

Southern Dad

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May 23, 2010
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So you're saying you support federal agents closing down state-authorised pharmacies?

Colorado brought in a hefty sum of weed tax revenue last year. I don't think they'd be too happy about federal agents coming in to disrupt that, and I don't think Colorado citizens would be too happy about it either.

It seems that (federal) crime does pay. ;)
The RECREATIONAL marijuana sellers are the ones that shouldn't get too comfortable. The winds of change could happen at any time.
 

zin

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The RECREATIONAL marijuana sellers are the ones that shouldn't get too comfortable. The winds of change could happen at any time.
The recreational sellers? So, practically all of them? :rolleyes:

What exactly is the reason for you being so against the legalisation of marijuana?
 

impulse462

macrumors 68000
Jun 3, 2009
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The recreational sellers? So, practically all of them? :rolleyes:

What exactly is the reason for you being so against the legalisation of marijuana?
Can't speak for Southern Dad, but a lot of people see it as a gateway drug to other harder stuff. Also the whole culture of "it's natural so its automatically better" is annoying as **** to me. Weed smokers as a whole don't know what they're talking about in that regard.

Overall though, I still think it should be legalized.
 

Renzatic

Suspended
Can't speak for Southern Dad, but a lot of people see it as a gateway drug to other harder stuff. Also the whole culture of "it's natural so its automatically better" is annoying as **** to me. Weed smokers as a whole don't know what they're talking about in that regard.
There's a very distinct possibility that it could act as an enabler to harder substances. Thing is, weed's already widely available, and people smoke it daily, regardless of legality. Colorado opting to sell it from licensed storefronts won't do a thing to surge hard drug usage across the country.
 

Southern Dad

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The recreational sellers? So, practically all of them? :rolleyes:

What exactly is the reason for you being so against the legalisation of marijuana?
First of all, no where in this thread have I said that I'm against it. I am actually for legalizing all drugs. That is right, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth, whatever. But I want something first. I want a standard of what is too stoned and way to test it.

But the fact that it is against federal law hasn't changed. That is simply factual not opinion. If the politicians were to have an "evolve" moment these sellers could be in deep crap overnight.
 

iBlazed

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Feb 27, 2014
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- the guy was saying weed in California is legal. As far as I know, it's allowed for medical reasons although it isn't difficult to get a card but it's not completely "legal" as in you can't grow your own and they've been shutting down weed stores.
I see no one has answered this question for you, so I will. Recreational marijuana in California is not yet legal. Only medicinal marijuana is legal in California. HOWEVER, California has some of the most relaxed medical marijuana laws in the nation. Obtaining a medical marijuana card in California is a fairly simple process, and it's a widely known fact that many people who have them don't really need them and wouldn't be able to get them in a lot of other medical marijuana states. Add all this to the fact that depending on where in California you are, the dispensaries serving all these "patients" are plentiful. LA for example is jam packed with them. So for all these reasons, to the casual onlooker who doesn't know the laws, it would appear that marijuana for recreational use is legal in California. It's not. Yet....
 

Renzatic

Suspended
First of all, no where in this thread have I said that I'm against it. I am actually for legalizing all drugs. That is right, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth, whatever. But I want something first. I want a standard of what is too stoned and way to test it.
When it comes to cocaine and meth, it's that first hit. There are practically no degrees of high when it comes to those two drugs. With heroin, it depends on the purity.
 

Technarchy

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May 21, 2012
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Thanks for the replies. Anyone got a good source to back up the claim that the Federal government trumps state law in this case?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_preemption


If the Fed can't prevent the State from enacting a law (as said in the 2nd post), how would it go about to block it?
Feds challenge the law in court, and if the law runs afoul of federal authority it will get shot down, and could go as high as the Supreme Court for clarification and judgement.

This should give you an idea of how the system works: http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/07/06/arizona.immigration.lawsuit/

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The Federal Government does not have anywhere near the resources to enforce this law itself.
You mean like the nonsense ATF and NFA regs. ATF is tiny. Odds of getting caught? Low. Compliance? High.

Fear, intimidation and the idea of 25 years in federal prison keep people in line despite the limited federal resources.