Clarence Thomas, one of the Supreme Court’s most conservative justices, wrote a statement on Monday suggesting that marijuana laws may not be necessary anymore.
In his statement, posted on the Supreme Court website, he stated: “Federal policies of the past 16 years have greatly undermined its reasoning. The federal government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana. A prohibition on interstate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the federal government’s piecemeal approach.”
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Thirty-six states now allow medical marijuana, and 18 also allow recreational use. But federal tax law does not allow marijuana businesses to deduct their business expenses. The court’s decision not to hear a new case related to tax deductions claimed by a Colorado medical marijuana dispensary prompted Thomas to issue a statement that more broadly addressed federal marijuana laws.
Thomas referred to several policies that conflict with the 2005 ruling. Among them are memorandums issued by the Department of Justice in 2009 and 2013 that indicated the government would not intrude on state marijuana legalization schemes or prosecute individuals for marijuana-activity if it complies with state law. With 36 states permitting the use of medical marijuana and 18 allowing recreational use, Thomas asserted that marijuana businesses do not experience “equal treatment” under the law.