When people think of a "marijuana attorney" most people think of a criminal defense attorney who defends a person for a marijuana related criminal in state or federal court. The term "marijuana law" or "pot law" can often include a wider variety of legal issues such as employment law and family law.
As the various states have passes measures to legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, attorneys are also becoming involved in the formation, regulation and defense of businesses that provide cannabis to the public.
Legal Organizations involved in Reforming Marijuana Laws
Many legal organizations in the United States are fighting for the reform of marijuana laws. The leading organization is the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Leading the way are attorneys on NORML's National Legal Committee (often called the "NLC"). Although many of these attorneys focus on criminal defense, attorneys on the NORML Legal Committee also practice a wider variety of cases including family law, employment law, personal injury, and business law.
Click here to find a marijuana defense attorney using NORML's popular membership directory.
Why is Marijuana Illegal?
Marijuana is a natural product derived from a plant, also known as the cannabis plant, that has been used by people for millenia, mostly for smoking. It has many well-documented medicinal uses for relieving pain in patients suffering from glaucoma and other illnesses. Some studies have indicated that smoking marijuana may have some of the same effects of tar in tobacco, but it is generally regarded in the scientific community as safe. Marijuana does contains several psychoactive compounds, mainly THC.
The federal government and most states have made the possession, sale, cultivation and distribution of marijuana, often called pot or weed, illegal. While a growing number of states have made the sale and possession of marijuana legal for medicinal purposes, and some for recreational purposes, most states still have criminal penalties for the mere possession of even a small amount of marijuana.
Penalties may be the same as for any other types of controlled substance, or may be less serious, depending on the state. Federal law holds that marijuana is a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no medicinal or useful purpose. Generally, punishment for sale, distribution or cultivation will be worse than for possession, and even worse for trafficking.
Marijuana defense lawyers are criminal defense lawyers who defend people against marijuana charges. These attorneys often examine the constitutional issues surrounding how police acquired evidence. Officers usually find the actual marijuana while conducting searches, which often cross constitutional lines. Evidence found in a unconstitutional search could be thrown out, leaving prosecutors with little or no proof that the offense occurred.
As the possession of marijuana has becomes legal for recreational purposes across the country, a wider variety of attorneys have begun to focus on these issues in the business law, employment law and family law arena.
Article last updated on Friday, June 12, 2015.