Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said what most of us are thinking on Monday: The federal government’s longstanding prohibition on marijuana may well be past its expiration date.
Thomas, widely seen as one of the most conservative justices on the high court, made the observation in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to turn down the appeal of a Colorado medical cannabis dispensary that sought the same federal tax breaks afforded to other businesses.
Citing Gonzales v. Raich, a 2005 Supreme Court case that cemented the federal government’s prohibition on weed, Thomas said the law may have finally outlived its usefulness, given the growing number of states and cities that have embraced legalization, both for medical and recreational use.
“Sixteen years ago, this Court held that Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce authorized it ‘to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana,” Thomas wrote in his statement. “The reason, the Court explained, was that Congress had ‘enacted comprehensive legislation to regulate the interstate market in a fungible commodity’ and that ‘exemption[s]’ for local use could undermine this ‘comprehensive’ regime. The Court stressed that Congress had decided ‘to prohibit entirely the possession or use of [marijuana]’ and had ‘designate[d] marijuana as contraband for