Clarence Thomas Blasts Fed's Marijuana Prohibition As “Contradictory”


Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is not a fan of the hodgepodge of federal policies on marijuana, signaling his potential support to end the federal prohibition.

His opinion came as the court declined to hear the appeal of a Colorado medical marijuana dispensary that was denied federal tax breaks that other businesses are allowed. 

Thomas said the Supreme Court's ruling in 2005 upholding federal laws making marijuana possession illegal may now be out of date, saying “a prohibition on interstate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the federal government's piecemeal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 raised questions about why federal tax law does not allow marijuana businesses to deduct their business expenses pointing out that “under this rule, a business that is still in the red after it pays its workers and keeps the lights on might nonetheless owe substantial federal income tax." 

In the past, Congress has approved amendments to prohibit the DOJ was intervene at the state level where marijuana is legalized.

Thomas writes:

“given all these developments, one can certainly understand why an ordinary person might think that the Federal Government has retreated from its once-absolute ban on marijuana.
One can also perhaps understand why business owners in Colorado…may think that their intrastate marijuana operations will be treated like any other enterprise that is legal under state law.”

However, the IRS continues to enforce its own rules against growers and legal dealers.


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