Abcarian: Clarence Thomas as the voice of reason in the federal cannabis debate?Posted by On


I was not expecting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to be the voice of reason on the federal government’s continuing and inane classification of cannabis as a dangerous drug with no currently accepted medical use.

But there he was late last month, the author of a five-page statement accompanying the court’s decision to turn down an appeal from a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado.

The dispensary has challenged a provision in the tax code that prohibits businesses that “traffic in controlled substances” from deducting ordinary business expenses from their taxable income. Although the court did not take the case, Thomas had some choice words for the government’s illogical approach to pot.

“The Federal Government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana,” Thomas wrote. “This contradictory and unstable state of affairs strains basic principles of federalism and conceals traps for the unwary.”

The case at hand, he wrote, “is a prime example.”

The dispensary in question, Standing Akimbo, is a 10-year-old Denver storefront serving patients who rely on cannabis to ease what ails them. Many are cancer patients, the store’s co-owner Spencer Kirson told me Thursday. He and his partners were disappointed that the Supreme Court did not take their case, he said, but were heartened by Thomas’ words.

While federal law still prohibits possession, cultivation or distribution of…

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I was not expecting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to be the voice of reason on the federal government’s continuing and inane classification of cannabis as a dangerous drug with no currently accepted medical use.

But there he was late last month, the author of a five-page statement accompanying the court’s decision to turn down an appeal from a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado.

The dispensary has challenged a provision in the tax code that prohibits businesses that “traffic in controlled substances” from deducting ordinary business expenses from their taxable income. Although the court did not take the case, Thomas had some choice words for the government’s illogical approach to pot.

“The Federal Government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana,” Thomas wrote. “This contradictory and unstable state of affairs strains basic principles of federalism and conceals traps for the unwary.”

The case at hand, he wrote, “is a prime example.”

The dispensary in question, Standing Akimbo, is a 10-year-old Denver storefront serving patients who rely on cannabis to ease what ails them. Many are cancer patients, the store’s co-owner Spencer Kirson told me Thursday. He and his partners were disappointed that the Supreme Court did not take their case, he said, but were heartened by Thomas’ words.

While federal law still prohibits possession, cultivation or distribution of…



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