Tags: crime/law/deviance, government/the state, drugs, medical marijuana, mandatory minimum sentencing, states rights, 06 to 10 mins
Access: New York Times
Summary: This NYT video illuminates the tension between state and federal law in medical marijuana. It focuses on the story of Chris Williams, a medical marijuana producer. Before starting his business, Williams consulted a lawyer and county attorneys. He and his partner gave tours to state lawmakers, who had legalized medical marijuana back in 2004. And while medical marijuana is illegal under national law (the federal government has classified marijuana among the most dangerous drugs), a 2009 memo from the federal Bureau of Justice noted that the government "should not focus federal resources on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws." Williams felt he and his family were safe in operating his business under the law. However, in 2011, the federal government began cracking down on medical marijuana growers in states across the country. Along with many others, Chris Williams was arrested and now faces life in prison. The video documents some of the challenges that he and his son have faced since the arrest. In September 2012, Chris went before a jury and "was convicted on marijuana charges and for possessing firearms during a drug trafficking offense. He is currently behind bars and faces a minimum mandatory sentence of more than 80 years in prison." The video concludes by noting that 75% of Americans support medical marijuana and argues that federal law should be reformed to be consistent with state law and public will. Viewers may reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of medical marijuana and if states should be permitted to develop laws that contradict federal legislation. Do federal minimum sentencing laws make sense in Williams' case?
Submitted By: Paul Dean
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