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After a step back, a step forward in marijuana laws

Our last post discussed the federal government's controversial decision to not change marijuana's drug classification. It remains a Schedule 1 substance according to federal drug laws. While that disappointed the many Massachusetts and U.S. supporters of marijuana legalization, another legislative decision about the drug comes as a ray of hope.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court set limits on what the Department of Justice can do regarding prosecuting medical marijuana cases from state to state. The result of those limits is that those who use, grow and sell marijuana according to their state laws can breathe a bit more easily. As long as they are following their state's law, the feds are to stay away.

This is a significant flip-flop as far as drug laws go. Federal laws generally trump state laws in drug cases. The confusion caused by the strict federal marijuana laws compared to states' loosening laws, including laws in Massachusetts, left a gray area and sense of anxiety among those who used, grew and distributed pot for medicinal reasons. 

Sure, the DOJ can still try to prosecute marijuana cases. But the suspects in the cases will have the valid argument to rely on that, "Our state allows me to do this." The loophole that would allow for the conviction of someone in a marijuana case would be, then, that the suspect violated his or her state's marijuana laws.

Therefore, it is crucial for those in Worcester County and the surrounding areas to understand Massachusetts' specific marijuana laws. If you use or want to use the drug for a medical purpose, make sure your condition is an eligible one and that you are buying/using according to state law. If you are growing or selling marijuana, you must be vigilant about being up-to-date and governed by the local limits. 

Laws vary from state to state. Also, as recent news proves, the laws change. It is understandable that someone would be confused, but confusion is not a criminal defense in the case of a drug charge. Someone with questions or worries about their rights regarding marijuana use should consult with a criminal defense lawyer in their area. 

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