A young man in Oregon is facing more trouble than he could have ever expected for cannabis. Despite the fact that Oregon has legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults, the 19 year old recent high school graduate is in a whole lot of trouble. He doesn’t have to worry so much about the state as, he does the federal drug charges that he’s up against. This is a very interesting case because it is the first time there has been a federal marijuana possession case in Oregon since 2011. What makes it even crazier is that it is all over 1 measly gram of cannabis. That’s right, this 19 year old is facing federal drug charges and up to a year in jail for just one gram in a state that has legalized. Of course this is an uncommon case, but what about it has led to such a rare and harsh legal repercussions? Apparently it mostly has to do with the unfortunate location that the young man, Devontre Thomas, got busted at with the weed.
It seems the reason the federal government has decided to step in on this case, rather than let the state handle it like they promised to do in 2013 when they set up their hands off policy with state cannabis legislation, is because it happened at his school. Thomas attended the Chemawa Indian School in Oregon which is a Native American boarding school that is run by the Bureau of Indian Education, a federal program. Apparently that has made the federal government feel entitled to handle this case themselves regarding an incident that happened way back in March 2015. The gram of cannabis in question was actually originally found inside the backpack of a fellow student that claimed Thomas had sold it to him. The difference between the punishment that Thomas would be facing from Oregon’s courts compared to that of the federal government is vast. The federal government still classifies cannabis as a schedule 1 drug and having federal drug charges on his record could keep him from being able to get student loans or be hired for jobs.
As much as Thomas would like to move past this situation that happened over a year ago, he plead not guilty to the preliminary hearing that would have given him a lesser punishment of attending a 6 month rehabilitation class. This is a risky move since it opens him back up to the one year of prison time possibility, but pleading guilty to federal drug charges for one gram of weed isn’t a good deal either. This is a perfect example of how it is certainly not the drug that has ruined this young man’s life, but potentially the harsh punishment that could set him on the wrong path at such an early age. The kid is just about to head off to college and could potentially have this hanging over his head for the rest of his life or even spend a year in prison over one skinny blunt’s worth of weed. Meanwhile the DEA has continued to take longer than they promised to give their recommendation on the reclassification of cannabis from schedule one. This should have happened before this court case is taking place, which could have really helped Thomas out, but it seems that this kid just can’t catch a break. Let’s all hope that he is found not guilty and is exonerated from his looming charges.