California legalizes weed, but state and federal laws are at odds, placing citizens in crosshairs
The state of California legalized the sale and cultivation of marijuana for recreational use on Monday, but the United States government still classifies weed as a controlled substance alongside drugs such as heroine and LSD. There are eight border patrol checkpoints in California, and according to the assistant chief of the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector Ryan Yamasaki, “it’s going to be the same after Jan. 1, because nothing changed on our end… If you’re a federal law enforcement agency, you uphold federal laws.”
According to a Government Accountability Office report, around 40% of weed seizures at the border patrol checkpoints from U.S. citizens were an ounce or less. This is significant because California’s new law allows residents to carry an ounce on their person freely. In 2014, the tension between state and federal laws regarding marijuana was exposed along the Washington state and Canadian border, albeit on a smaller scale than in California, which is a heavily used crossing from the Mexican border.
However, this Government Accountability Office does nothing to check the unfettered ability of the Border Patrol’s agents and checkpoints to harass citizens and those they suspect of being undocumented, as attorney Michael Chernis notes: “The bottom line is, there’s absolutely no protection against federal interaction when it comes to adult use.”
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has openly stated in the past that he is no fan of marijuana and it remains to be seen what will happen as more states pass laws which out pace the conservative federal laws concerning marijuana use and possession.