In an article by CNN it notes that the Trump administration will allow federal involvement where state laws conflict with federal ones regarding Marijuana.

Would this really have an impact on the states where it is legal?


1 Answer 1


Recreational marijuana is not legal in any state of the Union. State laws legalizing recreational marijuana can't usurp the authority of the Federal government; reference Arizona V United States.

The ongoing illegality of recreational marijuana, at the federal level, is why states and businesses are finding they can't put marijuana money into the bank, specifically any bank backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. If the federal government, under a new administration, makes a move to ENFORCE federal law against private businesses and states, there is little recourse short of changing the federal law or a Constitutional amendment.

Yes, some states have legalized recreational marijuana at their level, e.g. Colorado, Washington. Though, what do the states say:


Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, where it’s still classified as a controlled substance. This difference between Colorado and federal laws can lead to challenges in knowing how and where the different laws apply. Consult with legal advisers to be sure you fully understand how federal and state laws may affect you. Coloradans warn their citizens of the following:

Student financial aid:
You could lose federal financial aid opportunities for any marijuana use or possession charges. This is especially important for underage youth. Federal financial aid includes Perkins Loans, Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, PLUS Loans and Work-Study programs. Section 484 subsection R of the Higher Education Act of 1998 states that a student with a past conviction of any controlled-substance offense (which still includes marijuana) isn’t eligible for any of the above federal financial aid.

If you apply to purchase a firearm, you must complete federal Form 4473, which asks about unlawful marijuana use.
Since marijuana is still illegal federally, marijuana users may be rejected from purchasing a firearm.
Lying on this form is a federal felony with a maximum prison sentence of five years.

If you live in federally subsidized housing, any marijuana use or possession charges may mean that you lose your federal housing benefits.
If you have questions, please contact the Colorado Division of Housing.

Federal land:
Marijuana is still illegal on federal land, including national parks, ski slopes and military bases.

Federally funded property:
Places that receive a significant amount of federal funding must adhere to the federal Drug-Free Workplaces Act of 1988, which would ban the use of marijuana on those properties.

Anecdote A Colorado marijuana user court case of interest: Coats V Dish Network

In reality, a federal official could arrest Mr. Coats for marijuana-related offenses under federal law. Regardless of one’s feelings about the propriety of that reality, it remains a reality. By that logic, Mr. Coats’s activity—the use of marijuana—is not a lawful act, as he was using a schedule 1 drug within the United States.

Has an individual, a grower, or a distributer been shut down by the Federal Government? No. Is that because the Federal government during the previous administration chose to not enforce the laws as written? Yes. Does the current administration have the authority to discard that policy? Most Certainly. That is why you're seeing fearful actions and responses to the Administrations stated intentions that they are going to start enforcing the law in regard to marijuana.


What is the federal government going to do?
On August 29, 2013 Attorney General Eric Holder called both Governors Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper (Colorado) to outline the federal government’s guidance on legalized marijuana. That guidance was also outlined in a memo which focuses on eight points of federal emphasis such as youth access and public safety which the LCB’s rules address. The regulatory system for marijuana, and the rules written by the Board appears to meet those eight points. The memo does not change federal law. Governor Inslee’s office is maintaining an open dialogue with the federal government and the WSLCB is moving forward to carry out the expectations of the agency under the new law.

Since marijuana is legal in Washington can the federal government still prosecute me?
Yes. Washington's system of legalized marijuana does not preempt federal law. Presently Washington State residents involved in marijuana production /retailing could still be subject to prosecution if the federal government chooses to do so.

Can the federal government confiscate my assets?
Yes. Confiscation of assets is one of the enforcement tactics available to federal authorities.

What about industrial hemp? Does this create a new market for hemp products?
No. The law is focused on legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. The law modifies the definition of “marijuana” to include only cannabis greater than 0.3 percent THC concentration. Cannabis under this limit – industrial hemp – is not treated as recreational “marijuana.”

  • 2
    While I get your point, it's a semantic one and is ignoring the realities of the situation--which is that 5 states have legalized it. That is a significant factor in this issue.
    – user1530
    Feb 26, 2017 at 18:40
  • 1
    @blip While the states have ended State Laws that made marijuana illegal, they are readily aware that the federal law still applies. Feb 26, 2017 at 18:54
  • 2
    @DrunkCynic, There are states that have legalized the use of marijuana. California, which has had medical marijuana for years now had no issues with federal laws or the previous two administrations. You claim a person would be arrested if they used marijuana in front of a federal law enforcement yet have no instance or case. There's nothing to argue about here, it's legal in some states and that's that.
    – Noah
    Feb 26, 2017 at 22:01
  • 4
    Federal Law trumps State Law. This is settled legal principle. A marijuana user may not be arrested or prosecuted under state law, but that alone hardly makes it "legal". They still face considerable risk under Federal Law. Given the clear risk of federal prosecution (whether it has ever been acted on is not relevant), it is clear that marijuana is not 100% legal.
    – abelenky
    Feb 26, 2017 at 23:01
  • 3
    @DrunkCynic again, it's not as simple as you are making it out to be. While feds can technically swoop in and arrest people breaking federal law, there are gigantic political and potentially legal repercussions in doing so if the state law disagrees. You are dwelling on a technicality here, rather than the broader issues involved.
    – user1530
    Feb 27, 2017 at 1:31

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