Federalist Society sponsors talk on marijuana and federalism

Colorado Assistant Solicitor Michael Francisco spoke at Stetson Law.

Former Colorado Assistant Solicitor Michael Francisco spoke at Stetson Law. Photo by Brittany Brochard.

The Stetson Law student Federalist Society recently sponsored a talk on March 31 by former Colorado Assistant Solicitor Michael Francisco on “Marijuana & Federalism.”

Francisco discussed the Colorado citizens ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana that passed in 2012 and the aftermath of the amendment.

Francisco explained that marijuana is still illegal under federal law and federal prosecution for possession of medical marijuana is still possible after the passage of state amendments legalizing the substance. He said that banks are not permitted to open checking accounts for marijuana businesses and attorneys are not permitted to assist marijuana businesses in committing illegal activity associated with the industry.

Francisco also discussed legal cases that have resulted from the Colorado amendment. The states of Nebraska and Oklahoma accuse Colorado’s marijuana laws of breaking federal laws and the states of Washington and Oregon have filed amicus briefs supporting Colorado. A RICO case has been filed in federal district court in Colorado against groups of people involved in marijuana businesses. He said that RICO claims have the potential to change Colorado’s marijuana laws. At the national level, Francisco discussed how the next U.S. president elected in 2016 chooses to enforce drug laws at the federal level will act as a signal to states and citizens.