The Problems of Legalizing Marijuana Without Federal Oversight and Controls

The Problems of Legalizing Marijuana Without Federal Oversight and Controls

Car Accident Lawyer

With each successive legislative session, a growing number of state representatives who were once opposed to the legalization of cannabis are bending to the will of marijuana reformists. What begins as a conversation for the legalized use of medical marijuana comes full circle when legislators tip in favor of decriminalization and soon thereafter legalize the recreational use of cannabis.

As one of the Auto Accident Lawyers Indianapolis, IN residents trust, I am apprehensive about states liberalizing marijuana laws without implementation of federal controls applied uniformly across all jurisdictions. For example, since marijuana is still federally classified as a Schedule 1 drug, banking institutions are powerless to service state-legitimized pot businesses for fear of being prosecuted as money launderers. Cannabis dispensaries must operate as cash businesses, thus rendering them appealing targets for ill-intent and unlawful gain. Theoretically, a rogue law enforcement office located in a state where cannabis has been legalized for sale and recreational use may lawfully raid a legitimate dispensary, seizing large amounts of cash and property by lawfully using the federal asset forfeiture laws. And though it is rare for law enforcement officers to buck the laws of the jurisdiction, legally speaking they are upholding federal statutes.

The U.S. government will accept tax money from legal dispensaries, but because banks will not touch any funds obtained from marijuana sales, all tax monies must be transported under guard from secret locations and in armored vehicles to the closest tax office. This may mean driving for hundreds of miles on lonely highways. Logistically, tax payments are a magnet for criminal activity, putting employees and security guards lives at risk.

There are only a handful of insurance companies who will write a policy for members of the cannabis industry. Because there are too many unknowns with growth and sales of recreational marijuana, certain exclusions are written into most policies. One exclusion may deny coverage for marijuana raids by law enforcement officers. And because marijuana is labeled as a Schedule 1 substance, no cannabis business can be insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Currently it is illegal to smoke pot in public places. But because a powerful pot lobby has developed since legalization in 2012, a lobby-sponsored initiative in Denver would allow pot smoking in restaurants and cafes even though Colorado enacted the Clean Indoor Air Act in 2016. Its purpose was to restrict smoking in all enclosed work places including bars and restaurants. The same lobby pushing for indoor vaping has successfully pushed back on jurisdictions wishing to place commonsense restrictions on marijuana dispensaries; lobbyists have been able to do this through legislation that raises the number of signatures required for an initiative from 5% to 15%. Once the lobbyists for legalizing recreational use and decriminalization of pot have passed their pro-cannabis agendas, it’s almost too late to enact additional restrictions. That horse has left the barn.

Unlike alcohol, the dosage from one plant among many available strains and strengths, cannot be measured for the user to anticipate the point of impairment. This issue is complex and there are too many variables at this time to predict who will become impaired and who will remain in control of their perception and reaction timing. Without federal oversight, exhaustive studies and strict controls, dosage and inebriation guidelines such as Colorado’s DUI and DWAI (Driving While Ability is Impaired) are difficult to prosecute because an accurate reading of Delta9 Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient that gets you high, can remain in a person’s bloodstream for as much as 30 days after ingestion of Mary Jane.

During the year that recreational use became legalized, traffic fatalities doubled in the state of Washington, from 10.8% in 2013 to 22.1% in 2014. In the state of Colorado, if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and have reason to believe the driver responsible for the accident is intoxicated or otherwise impaired, your Colorado car accident lawyer would likely advise you that you have the right to summon a COMS (Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist) officer to the scene of the accident—someone who has been expressly trained to recognize impairment. If the officer has probable cause to arrest the driver for DUI; DWAI; or suspects the driver is a habitual user of controlled substances, a breath, blood or urine test will be immediately requested. Failure to submit to the test for alcohol and drug substances will automatically result in a suspended license.



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