Were marijuana laws racially discriminatory?
As NORML marijuana lawyers in California, we had notification of one of our colleagues making an argument today (July 18th, 2017), in court in Connecticut that was interesting.
Aaron Romano says many state laws criminalizing marijuana were based on the federal “Marihuana Tax Act of 1937“, which essentially criminalized marijuana by imposing harsh financial penalties. That is one of the reasons why, under federal law, the legal nature of banking for marijuana dispensaries and other businesses is such a difficult area to deal with for most cannabis businesses.
Mr. Romano argued that the federal law was rooted in racism and bigotry against blacks and Mexicans and therefore was unconstitutional, as are the state bans based on the law including Connecticut’s, where he practices as a marijuana lawyer.
“It was racially motivated and states just adopted it wholesale,” said Romano, a Bloomfield attorney who also is legal counsel for the state chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “With the growing awareness of cannabis’ health benefits … at this point there is no reason to maintain its illegal status.”
The prosecutor in the case declined to comment, while at least one drug law expert doesn’t believe such an argument would be successful.
Romano made the unusual argument Tuesday in a motion to dismiss marijuana possession and probation violation charges against his client, William Bradley, who was caught with nearly a pound of marijuana in January while on probation for a previous marijuana conviction. He is detained while awaiting trial because he can’t post $150,000 bail.
The article about the case from US News and World Report is an interesting read, and the financial laws regarding banking and marijuana remains in dispute.
If you have questions about the ever changing field of marijuana laws in California, or need an attorney for your marijuana business licenses or cannabis license, contact us today.