Archive | marijuana

Friday, October 7th, 2022


The White House announced yesterday that President Biden would grant “full, complete, and unconditional” pardons to U.S. citizens and lawful residents previously convicted of simple possession of marijuana under 21 U.S.C. § 844(a) and D.C. Code 48-904.01(d)(1).  The move is intended to “help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions,” and will doubtless help eligible individuals facing bars to employment, public housing, and some other civil disabilities.  But because of the Kafka-esque tangle that is immigration law, a presidential pardon may do little or nothing to relieve noncitizen defendants of what is likely the gravest consequences they face from a marijuana conviction—deportation or ineligibility for immigration status.  Clients who are eligible for the pardons should be advised that they may still face adverse immigration consequences even after a pardon is granted, and should consult an attorney expert in criminal-immigration issues prior to seeking one.  Read on for the gory …

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Categories: immigration, marijuana

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Friday, September 2nd, 2022

Marijuana distribution is still a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The Second Circuit REJECTS the argument that marijuana’s inclusion in Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act (“CSA”) lacks a rational basis and thus violates Fifth Amendment due process and equal protection rights. United States v. Green, Nos. 19-997(L), 19-1027 (Con), __F.4th__ , 2022 WL 3903654 (2d Cir. Aug. 31, 2022) (C.J.J. Sack and Bianco; D.J. Underhill).

Two Rochester, New York, marijuana entrepreneurs, “the Green Brothers,” asked the Circuit to strike down marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug as an unconstitutional violation of their due process and equal protection rights and, on that basis, dismiss the narcotics charges against them.  Green, 2022 WL 3903654 at **1-2.

“They argued that marijuana’s scheduling has no ‘rational basis’ because it does not meet the statutory criteria for Schedule I classification; that is, the CSA requires that a substance have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States to fall under Schedule I, see 21 U.S.C. § 812(b)(1), and marijuana does have accepted medical uses.” Id. at *2.  The Circuit rejects this argument.

I. Background facts

“Alexander Green obtained hundreds of kilograms of marijuana from California which he shipped to his brother, Charles Green, in New York State” for distribution “in the Rochester, New York area.” …

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Categories: Fifth Amendment, marijuana

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Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Judge Weinstein Urges More Frequent Termination of Supervised Release (Including for Marijuana Users)

Last week Judge Weinstein issued a remarkable opinion, available here, terminating supervised release for a defendant who, apart from habitual marijuana use, has committed no crimes since his release from prison. See United States v. Trotter, No. 15-cr-382, DE 543 (E.D.N.Y. July 5, 2018). The lengthy-but-readable opinion is worth reading in its entirety, particularly for those not intimately familiar with the law governing supervised release.

The opinion in Trotter made headlines for Judge Weinstein’s commitments to avoid punishing supervisees for marijuana use, and to terminate supervised release for marijuana users who are otherwise rehabilitated.  Equally relevant to practitioners, however, is Judge Weinstein’s more general critique of excessive supervision. Particularly important is Judge Weinstein’s suggestion that the defense bar move more frequently for termination of supervised release in the interest of justice pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3583. Indeed, Judge Weinstein urges practitioners to move for termination of supervised release …

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Categories: marijuana, sentencing, sentencing findings, supervised release

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Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Second Circuit Updates – April 5, 2016

There were no opinions in criminal cases from the Circuit this day.  The Circuit issued a single summary affirmance in United States v. Miller, No.15-108-cr, where it rejected the defendant’s claim that his 144-month – but nevertheless below-Guidelines – sentence was substantively unreasonable.

United States v. Miller, No.15-108-cr:

Miller was convicted of a  drug distribution conspiracy ( 21 U.S.C. § 846)  involving a (b)(1)A)-quantity of drugs — i.e., 21 U.S.C. § 841.  The drugs were more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.  He committed the offense “while on supervised release from a prior conviction for cocaine trafficking and firearms possession.”  His sole contention on appeal, according to the Circuit, was that his 144-month prison sentence, which was a downward variance from a Guidelines range of 151 to 188 months, “was substantively unreasonable the because the only reasonable sentence is one at the statutory minimum of 120 months’ …

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Categories: guideline, marijuana

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Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Gone To Pot

United States v. Celaj, No. 10-2792-cr (2d Cir. August 22, 2011)(Miner, Cabranes, Straub, CJJ)

Din Celaj headed a crew that would rob – or try to rob – drug dealers. When successful, they would obtain drugs, which they would themselves sell, money and firearms.

He went to trial on several Hobbs Act robbery and associated 924(c) counts, was convicted, and received a 601-month sentence. On appeal, he made a sufficiency claim as to the jurisdictional element of the Hobbs Act counts where the goal was to steal marijuana. He did so despite entering into a stipulation at trial that “marijuana is grown outside of the state of New York and travels in interstate and foreign commerce to arrive in the New York City area.” The circuit affirmed.

The court began by surveying the area. In Parkes, see “Government Has No Evidence; Court Deems It Sufficient,” posted September 23, 2007, the …

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Categories: Hobbs Act, interstate commerce, marijuana, Uncategorized

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Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Government Has No Evidence; Court Deems It Sufficient

United States v. Parkes, No. 05-1486-cr (2d Cir. August 15, 2007) (Jacobs, McLaughlin, Calabresi, CJJ).

In a sterling example of the alchemy of result-oriented jurisprudence, here the court finds sufficient evidence of an effect on interstate commerce, even though there was none.

Otis Parkes and two others planned and carried out 2003 robbery attempt in the apartment of a drug dealer. Their target was marijuana and marijuana proceeds that the dealer kept hidden in his closet. During the robbery, one of the co-conspirators shot and killed the drug dealer. Parkes went to trial on a Hobbs Act robbery conspiracy charge under 18 U.S.C. § 1951, along with other, related charges, including murder in furtherance of a crime of violence, under 18 U.S.C. § 924(j). He received a life sentence.

The government had taken the position (a typical SDNY overreach) that it did not have to prove any effect on interstate …

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Categories: Hobbs Act, interstate commerce, marijuana, sufficiency, Uncategorized

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