This past Monday (June 28), the Supreme Court declined to hear a new case related to a Colorado medical marijuana dispensary seeking federal tax breaks that other businesses were allowed. Thomas’ opinion in the case of Standing Akimbo LLC v. United States was the most striking, questioning the need for federal laws against marijuana that were disjointed in their application and reach.
“A prohibition on interstate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the federal government’s piecemeal approach,” he wrote in his dissenting opinion. Thomas also cited that marijuana businesses don’t experience “equal treatment” under the law, and declared that previous rulings such as Gonzales v. Raich in 2005 that made possession of marijuana illegal may not apply .
“Federal policies of the past 16 years have greatly undermined its reasoning,” he said. “The federal government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana.” Thomas also pointed to the fact that because of federal prohibition, marijuana businesses that can’t conduct transactions through federally backed banking institutions have to use cash which leaves them more prone to burglaries.
“If the Government is now content to allow States to act ‘as laboratories,’” Thomas cautioned, “then it might no longer have authority to intrude on ‘[t]he States’ core police powers . . . to define criminal law and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens.’”
Legal experts agreed with Thomas’ opinion, feeling that while it won’t have an immediate legal impact, it’ll go a long way to change the viewpoints of those still opposed to national legalization like those among the Republican members of Congress.