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What Happens When Federal Law Conflicts With State Law?

September 10, 2019

What Happens When Federal Law Conflicts With State Law?

The Changing Landscape of Drug Laws Across the Country

What’s the current state of drug laws across the country? If you hesitated to answer, then you’re not alone. There’s much confusion surrounding drug laws as they continue to remain in a state of flux. While several states have begun making new laws like decriminalizing marijuana, the federal government’s stance remains unchanged. What’s the bottom line? Is marijuana illegal or legal? What happens when federal and state laws conflict?

Drug Crimes: Federal Versus State Charges

Some states have passed recent legislation that legalizes marijuana with a medical card. Other states have simply declined to press simple possession charges against citizens who are caught with marijuana, even when they don’t have an approved medical marijuana card. Several more states are attempting to push through new legislation regarding the substance. Despite this, federal law has remained unchanged. The Controlled Substances Act defines marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, a drug that has absolutely no medical value. Any person caught possessing, distributing, growing or marketing marijuana can still be charged with a federal crime. These laws also apply to businesses that attempt to market marijuana-related products. It’s illegal to profit from marijuana in any way.

What Happens When Federal Law Conflicts with State Law?

Obviously, there’s a major discrepancy between various state governments and the federal government regarding marijuana. Understand that citizens of any state can still face federal charges for possessing marijuana even if it’s legal in their state. State measures to legalize or decriminalize the substance have no effect on the federal law. The U.S. Constitution contains the all-important Supremacy Clause. What does it mean? It specifically gives the federal government authority over all state laws. It explains that federal law is the “supreme law of the land.” What this means is that all state courts are required to follow the Constitution and by extension, federal law. When a conflict arises between state and federal law, the Supremacy Clause dictates that federal law reign supreme. If pressed, then the federal court could even require a state to halt all efforts towards legalization and decriminalization. This has not happened yet, and it isn’t expected to happen anywhere in the near future.

Contact an Experienced Voorhees Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Drug Charges in New Jersey or Pennsylvania

Were you arrested or charged with a drug crime in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at Garber Law, P.C. have successfully represented clients charged with drug crimes in Camden County, Trenton, Mercer County, Burlington County and throughout New Jersey. Call 856-282-0398 in New Jersey or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at The Greens of Laurel Oak, 1200 Laurel Oak Road, Suite 104, Voorhees, NJ 08043, as well as offices located in Philadelphia in the Aramark Building, 1101 Market Street, Suite 2820.

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