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Oregon Walking a Fine Line With Upcoming Vote to Legalize Marijuana

Oregon may be the next state to join the growing list of states that have legalized the use of marijuana in some way if Measure 80 is passed into state law. The difference with Oregon's proposed law is that it legalizes the recreational production, possession and use of marijuana, whereas other states have limited the use to medicinal purposes.

The main problem that states face with legalization is the fact that marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government. As such, those who operate medical marijuana dispensaries are always under threat of a bust by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), despite the fact that state laws allow for the operation of the businesses. An operator in these states runs the risk of being charged at the federal level.

Oregon is no different from any of the other states. The DEA is still going to go after those handling marijuana in some way, shape or form. State laws do not make anyone immune from the federal charges.

Pro-marijuana activists are seeking to change the federal laws by appealing cases all the way to the Supreme Court. The proposed course of action is to wait for the DEA to arrest people and charge them with federal drug violations. Provided the court convicts the individual, proponents then appeal the case to the next level, hoping to get it before the Supreme Court. There, the plan is to get the justices to overturn the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, thus legalizing marijuana.

The chances of this actually happening are slim to none, as the court rejected the same argument in 2005. It is a good bet that the same thing would happen again if a case made it to this level. The only way that anything would change in the current political environment is if Congress were to reverse the Controlled Substances Act.

Source: oregonlive.com, "Oregon's marijuana legalization measure would ignite a futile legal battle," August 16, 2012

Our law firm represents individuals facing drug charges. For more information, please see our federal drug offenses page.

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