Many Californians cheered last November when voters passed Proposition 64, which decriminalized the possession and sale of small amounts of marijuana for recreational purposes. Although California already a robust medical marijuana industry since Proposition 215 was passed two decades ago, this new law appears to extend legal protections to most adults 21 and over statewide, regardless of whether they have a prescription. But on the same day that Proposition 64 was passed, a new president was also elected, and the Trump Administration has signaled that it intends to begin a federal crackdown on those in California and elsewhere who are in violation of federal marijuana laws, which still classify marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance.
Sessions and Spicer Indicate Marijuana Laws Will Be Enforced
The most notable move by the Trump Administration with regard to marijuana laws has been the appointment of Sen. Jeff Sessions as the Attorney General. In that role, Sessions will guide the policy of the Department of Justice (DOJ). The Attorney General has great power to decide what types of crimes the DOJ will actually prosecute and what types of laws it will not take an active role in prosecuting. Because only federal law (and not state law) makes simple possession of marijuana a crime in California, the DOJ is the only agency that would prosecute marijuana crimes in the state (with the assistance of the DEA and FBI in investigating crimes).
Under the Obama Administration, the DOJ largely refrained from prosecuting parties for federal marijuana crimes, but Sessions seems to be signalling that he would like the DOJ to prosecute individuals and businesses for marijuana crimes. In a speech in March, Sessions said that marijuana was “only slightly less awful” than heroin and expressed shock that people were in favor of legalization. He also said he would be appointing a task force to determine whether existing enforcement policies on marijuana were consistent with the Trump Administration’s “goals and policies.”
Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, also announced that he believed there would soon be greater enforcement of marijuana laws by federal law enforcement agencies.
What a Crackdown Means for Californians
Although no significant steps have been taken yet by the Trump Administration to actually target users of marijuana in California and those who operate dispensaries or supply products, the Trump Administration has a demonstrated pattern of being unpredictable and engaging in significant policy changes without notice. Thus, at any time we could expect federal agents to begin cracking down on people in California through marijuana-related investigations, arrests, and prosecutions for acts which would otherwise be legal under California law.
If you are the subject of a federal investigation into marijuana crimes, your best option is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can represent your interests in speaking with and responding to federal agents in all relevant matters. Making misleading statements to a federal agent is a federal crime, and attempting to speak with law enforcement agents at either the state or federal level without an attorney present can result in catastrophic self-incrimination and a waiver of your constitutional rights.
Fighting For Your Best Possible Outcome in Your Drug Case
If you have been placed under arrest or are under investigation for marijuana or other narcotics in California, it is important to work with criminal defense attorneys who will fight for your rights.
At the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, PLC, our experienced criminal defense attorneys will work with you from the very start to reach a positive outcome: a dropped investigation, a dismissal of charges, a not guilty verdict, a reduced sentence, or an alternative treatment program. Call the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, PLC today to get your best defense now.