Clarence Thomas: We May Not Need Federal Marijuana Laws

Because of the government's 'piecemeal approach'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2021 1:22 AM CDT
Clarence Thomas: We May Not Need Federal Marijuana Laws
In this April 23, 2021, file photo, members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington.   (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

One of the Supreme Court's most conservative justices thinks we may be able to do away with federal weed laws. Clarence Thomas released a statement Monday in connection with the high court declining to hear an appeal from a Colorado pot dispensary looking to block the IRS from getting information about its business, Reuters reports. The dispensary had been denied federal tax breaks that other businesses receive, NBC News reports. In his statement, the justice said that the federal government takes a "piecemeal approach" to weed laws, leading to "a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana." Because of that, he wrote, it may no longer be "necessary or proper" to ban "interstate use or cultivation of marijuana."

In 2005, the Supreme Court upheld federal laws criminalizing pot possession, but so much has changed in the past 16 years, that ruling may be outdated, Thomas suggested. Even though 18 states have legalized pot and double that allow medical marijuana—and the federal government does not prosecute cases involving dispensaries following their own state's laws—federal tax laws do not allow weed businesses to deduct their business expenses, meaning pot dispensaries could end up owing federal income tax even if they're in the red, Thomas pointed out. Thus, he said, per CNBC, those businesses are not receiving "equal treatment" under the law. (More Clarence Thomas stories.)

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