Skip to main content

Why can a law be passed in a state but still illegal in federal court? A specific case as an example.

Philadelphia, PA |

For example how marijuana is legalized in Washington and soon to be Colorado, but participants can be tried and convicted for using marijuana by the Federal Government.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 7

Posted

The answer is fairly simple: you are dealing with two different jurisdictions. As an example you can look to recent arrests and drug busts of vendors in Calirfornia by federal authorities despite the fact that the State of California has legalized possession under certain quantities. Similarly, a person can be prosecuted in federal court for a federal crime though the state within which the prosecution takes place has not made those actions criminal.

Call (973) 694 4408 for a free consultation. Proven results, no gimmicks. www.bolegal.com The advice contained in this answer is based upon the information provided. It does not constitute our acceptance of representation nor does it provide any guaranty of results.

Asker

Posted

Thank you! Do you know the specific law that states the powers of the jurisdicions? I know the 10th Amendment can be used as an argument in cases regarding state law v federal law

Barry Franklin Poulson

Barry Franklin Poulson

Posted

Supremacy clause of US Constitution

Posted

Our form of government permits each state to pass criminal statutes which will determine criminality in that state. The Federal government also has authority to do so. When there is a conflict, the United States Supreme Court may be ultimately asked to resolve the issue and determine if the statutes can coexist.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your assistance!

Posted

The other attorneys are correct. Of course, generally federal law trumps state law where the two conflict. These recent measures seem to me to be the states' equivalent of a sit in.

In the meantime, while the state law enforcement may not prosecute, the Feds can.

This answer is informational only and does not create an attorney client relationship. I am not expressing an opinion on the merits of your case based on the facts above. This is not legal advice. This is free. You pay for legal advice.

Posted

Separate sovereigns. One is a state, one is the US. The Feds make a lot of money from marijuana prohibition; it provides for lots of jobs for the Feds.

We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.

Posted

The state is one government. The federal government is another - larger, and it encompasses each particular state and the 49 others. The federal government has jurisdiction over all the states, but the state has jurisdiction only over itself and no other state. Hence, if a state like Washington passes "legalized" marijuana, it is only legal in Washington, but the federal government can still impose its restrictions on the Washington residents if the federal government has a law against marijuana. In most instances, if a state "legalizes" something (such as prostitution in Nevada) the federal government won't interfere with it. On the other hand, if the state of Washington suddenly decides to make cocaine or heroin legal, you can bet that the federal government will step in and make arrests. However, as to marijuana in various states, the feds have mostly decided to leave them alone - at least under the present Administration.

I hope that helps to clarify the situation. Good luck.

You may call our office at 516-248-6600 or send an email to us at Ted@Thelawteam.com. This answer does not form an attorney/client relationship with anyone and any answers do not constitute direct legal advice and should not be followed unless and until you have spoken with an attorney of your choice.

Barry Franklin Poulson

Barry Franklin Poulson

Posted

Actually, the present administration has been more active in prosecuting than the prior one. It will take a regime change before the Feds back down from their present, highly lucrative, enforcent.

Posted

It is not illegal in federal court. It is illegal under federal law. Therefore the federal authorities can arrest and prosecute for it, and of course they do so in federal court. The state can pass a law that possession is not against the law of that state. It cannot override a federal law. So if you are openly in possession and you meet two officers walking down the street together, the state trooper might ignore you but the FBI agent would arrest you.

Posted

The Supremacy Clause in the US Constitution says that if State and Federal law conflict, Federal law governs. Marijuana is illegal everywhere because of the Supreme Court precedents that say it is something that can be regulated by Congress. In most states, mj is doubly illegal, illegal under federal law and state law. Although Washington has legalized the recreational use of mj and its law enforcement agencies cannot arrest or prosecute someone for its use or possession under state law, federal agents certainly can.

Criminal defense topics

Recommended articles about Criminal defense

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer