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Marijuana—Is Federal Legalization on the Horizon?

Jan. 18, 2023

As of December 1, 2022, the recreational use of marijuana was legal in 21 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, while 37 states, the District, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, allow medical use of the drug. However, the drug remains illegal on a federal level, and—with the new Congress—that’s unlikely to change. That’s why, if you have any questions about a marijuana charge or convictions, don’t rely on the law being changed to help your case. Instead, count on a criminal defense attorney—like the Law Office of Kenneth W Mullen PC—to defend you.

Marijuana is Illegal Under Federal Law… For Now

This Fall, there seemed to have been a sea change on the federal level: Congress had passed federal legislation to decriminalize marijuana, and the Senate was considering a version of the legislation. And President Biden issued a proclamation pardoning those with simple federal marijuana convictions.

However, There May Be Less to This than Appears

Since the Senate failed to pass its version of the law and get it signed into law by the president, the House of Representatives’ passage is now moot. While some Republican members do support marijuana legalization, with the current upheaval in Congress, it’s unlikely this is going to be at the top of the agenda. Further, some of the previous bill’s strongest opponents are potential leaders in the new Republican-led Congress.

Even if bills do move forward, they’ll probably be more like one Senate proposal that develops a path toward marijuana legalization rather than grants outright legalization.

At the same time, President Biden’s pardon had a smaller impact than many claimed. Because it pertained to only citizens convicted of a simple charge of marijuana, with no other related charges, few benefited from the change. In January 2022, not one person was in federal custody for only a simple marijuana possession charge. Further, the pardon didn’t result in automatically expunging a conviction from anyone’s federal record. And the pardon has no impact on anyone’s state record.

Get Help From an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

In the meantime, experienced defense attorneys like the Law Office of Kenneth W Mullen PC can help you with related cases—from challenging a conviction to pursuing an expungement of your record. Because even if, generally speaking, many Americans support criminalization, that isn’t going to impact your case. For that, you need an experienced lawyer who can provide you with the best defense possible. Call us at (817) 341-4848 or contact us online for a free consultation.