Recreational usage of marijuana has increasingly been accepted within the United States over the last few years. Several states including California, Colorado, Washington, and Massachusetts have all recently enacted laws that legalize some form of marijuana usage and more states are likely to follow in the footsteps of these trailblazers. With the recent legalization of marijuana in these states, questions have arisen relating to the permissible limitations on the use of the legalized substance. In Robert Chase Armstrong’s The Grass Is Always Greener: The Effect of Decriminalizing Marijuana on Probation Violations, he addresses a major concern that accompanies future marijuana usage within these jurisdictions: what is the acceptable punishment for probationers who are found to be using this newly legalized substance.
A probationer must generally meet certain conditions in order to avoid serving jail time. These conditions often include refraining from using drugs, including marijuana. Even in a state where marijuana has been legalized, these probation conditions may still be imposed. Armstrong states that the punishment for violating a condition of probation that prohibits marijuana usage should be less severe than serving jail time. He suggests that this will preserve justice and fairness since one can no longer be imprisoned for the possession or consumption of marijuana in these jurisdictions.
Armstrong’s article will appear in Volume 1 of New England Law Review – Offer of Proof.
Contributing editor: Erin Filban