Assistant U.S. Attorney Anatoly Smolkin, in his final statements on the second week of May 2022, outlined that Jonathan Wall’s trial was not about cannabis possession. According to him, “It’s not about the possession of marijuana.” “This is a case regarding a narcotics conspiracy,” in which “enormous money” was exchanged for huge amounts of cannabis.
When it was time for the defense to speak, Colorado lawyer Jason Flores-Williams got up and begged to differ. He explained, “It’s about cannabis.” In this trial, one of a rapidly decreasing number of federal criminal trials involving marijuana trafficking, the lawyers were unable to agree on what the case was about, or, to put it another way, there was no legal consensus on what the case was about.
There are now 18 states where recreational marijuana usage is permitted and 37 states where it is legal for medical purposes. However, it is still listed as a Schedule I substance by the federal government, alongside heroin and LSD.
Presidents have sent memos outlining their priorities for marijuana prosecutions, only to have their successors revoke such directives. Though marijuana decriminalization legislation has just been approved by Congress, it still faces a tough road to passage in the Senate.
When it comes to legal marijuana, Mr. Wall is neither an example of the disparities in how minor drug offenses are prosecuted nor a recognized tycoon of the legal cannabis sector.
However, he has indeed spent almost two years in federal jail awaiting trial on allegations of aiding operate a cross-country marijuana trafficking network, which carries a minimum prison term of life.
Since his arrest, he’s become somewhat of a star among cannabis activists, libertarians, and criminal justice reformers, and has been the subject of lengthy stories in journals like High Times, Reason, and others.
Lanier, who served more than two decades in jail for marijuana smuggling, has now become a brand ambassador for a publicly listed cannabis firm. He also just received a commercial license to cultivate cannabis himself, just a few miles away in New Jersey.
There are just a few federal prosecutions involving marijuana, and those are becoming increasingly rare. Over the previous decade, the number of federal charges for marijuana trafficking has dropped precipitously; last year, there were fewer than 1,000.
In 2021, less than a hundred individuals were given the bare minimum of ten years in prison. Jurors in the federal courthouse in Baltimore, however, were not informed of this at any time. During the second day of Mr. Wall’s trial, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland’s Judge Stephanie A.
Gallagher banned “signs, buttons or pamphlets” from entering the courtroom and ejected an employee of FreedomGrow, a non-profit that helps people incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses after the woman took a selfie with one of the trial witnesses.
It was after days of testimony from individuals who had pled guilty and described a flourishing company that produced and moved hundreds of pounds of marijuana from California to warehouses in the Baltimore suburbs before closing arguments began.
They claimed to have kept meticulous financial records and had earned enough to support a lavish lifestyle that included frequent trips abroad, attendance at Phish concerts, and luxury apartment rentals in Baltimore’s gentrifying areas.