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Drug case seeks to challenge America's disparate marijuana laws

There is little doubt that American attitudes are changing about drug use and drug laws. This is especially true of marijuana, which President Obama has even defended as safer than alcohol. Tired of waiting for the federal government to act, many states have begun legalizing marijuana for medical use with some decriminalizing possession of certain amounts.

Needless to say, this is creating some problematic double standards between marijuana cases prosecuted by certain states and those prosecuted at the federal level. One Midwestern man is hoping to address some of these issues as he fights federal drug charges related to marijuana.

The Michigan man is accused of running a large-scale marijuana growing operation. The defendant has said that his products were being grown for medicinal use, but prosecutors allege that his operation was not in compliance with state laws.

The defendant and his attorney are using the case as a platform for a constitutional challenge. The man’s attorney is arguing that the federal government is failing to prosecute individuals who are in compliance with their state’s marijuana laws. He explained that this policy “has resulted in a discriminatory application of federal law, in that it protects similarly situated individuals from criminal sanctions for actions identical to that alleged to have been conducted by the defendant, and therefore violates the Equal Protection Clause.”

Additionally, they argue that in light of what is now known about marijuana’s physical effects, it should no longer be classified as a Schedule 1 drug. This classification is reserved for the most dangerous drugs.

It is unclear if this case will result in widespread changes to federal marijuana laws. But if it doesn’t, it could possibly pave the way for future legal challenges based on similar arguments. No matter how the case is decided, one thing is clear: America needs to be united regarding the legal status of marijuana. This patchwork of state and federal laws will continue to cause problems until or unless a nationwide consensus is reached.

Source: Michigan Live, "Attorney says marijuana wrongly classified as dangerous drug, federal prosecution unfair," John Agar, June 20, 2014

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