While policy decisions from the White House have been vague or difficult to follow, the new statement on the enforcement of federal drug laws is pretty clear: The Department of Justice will ignore state laws that decriminalize marijuana.
While this does not come as much of a surprise – especially after Senator Jeff Sessions was confirmed as the U.S. Attorney General – the clarity of the announcement seals the deal.
Federal Drug Laws to be Strictly Enforced
The announcement was made in a press conference with White House press secretary Sean Spicer. When asked about how the federal government would handle the enforcement of federal drug law, Spicer said, “I do believe you will see greater enforcement of it.”
Despite there being no scientific evidence to support it, Spicer went on to say that the change in policy was because of the heroin and opioid epidemic.
“When you see something like the opioid addition crisis blossoming in so many states around the country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people,” Spicer stated. “There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature.”
Whether the change in policy is actually because of the increase in deaths after opioid overdoses or because of Senator Sessions' longstanding advocacy against marijuana is unclear. Claiming that marijuana use is somehow responsible for heroin deaths is flimsy, at best.
Federal Enforcement Staying Away from Medical Marijuana
However, Spicer was careful to distinguish recreational marijuana from medicinal marijuana. President Donald Trump has long been supportive of medical marijuana, and seems intent on allowing states to make their own decision on that front.
Instead, it's just recreational use that the Department of Justice is focusing on.
Impact on Maine Drug Laws
Nevertheless, that doesn't mean that people in Maine won't notice a difference.
Recently, the Department of Justice had given states more or less free rein to make their own decisions on marijuana. Many states, including Maine, passed medical marijuana laws, while several decriminalized recreational pot, as well.
The new stance, though, is that the federal government is done letting states make their own choice.
The result will be an increased federal presence in the enforcement of drug crimes. In the past few years, this had been almost exclusively done by states.
Criminal Defense Attorney William T. Bly
This new enforcement policy from the top of the federal government is worrisome. When federal agencies get involved in state issues, the sheer amount of resources that can be deployed by law enforcement can really shake things up. Additionally, federal criminal drug laws are significantly worse than state drug laws, which should concern all citizens who smoke marijuana recreationally.
Criminal defense attorney William T. Bly knows this, and will fight for both your rights and interests, in and out of court, if you've been federally charged with a drug crime in Maine. Contact his law office online or at (207) 571-8146 to get the legal help you need.