Marijuana Sack Is No Cause For Deportation, Supreme Court Says
1cognito / Flickr
Can you share with your buds a bit more marijuana than you should legally have and get away with it? Can you have weed for, say, a small party and still not have to face deportation for felony "intent to distribute?"
In an amazing sign of the country's changing attitudes toward pot, the U.S. Supreme Court said sure, why not? Have that cannabis. Don't worry about being sent back to where ever, even if you're a "noncitizen:"
The case involved Jamaican Adrian Moncrieffe, busted in Georgia in 2007 for having 1.3 grams of marijuana -- enough to get him a "possession with intent to distribute" conviction and 5 years of probation. (Enough to fill one or two rap-star blunts).
Anyway, the conviction inspired an attempt by U.S. immigration authorities to deport him. He had committed an "aggravated felony," the trigger that would send so-called noncitizens packing. (Moncrieffe immigrated here legally).
But the Supreme Court said not so fast: 1.3 grams hardly constitutes the kind of "illicit trafficking" that the law was intended to snuff out with deportation. The case represented a gray area, and the justices said Moncrieffe should be given the benefit of the doubt.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor:
Sharing a small amount of marijuana for no remuneration, let alone possession with intent to do so, does not fit easily into the everyday understanding of trafficking, which ordinarily means some sort of commercial dealing.
In other words, the court was second guessing Georgia's view of possession with intent to distribute. A bag of weed is not always a deportable offense. At least not in this case. Sharing is caring.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.