An Oregon teenager is facing federal drug charges and up to a year in prison for possessing a gram of marijuana, according to his lawyer — the first marijuana possession case federal authorities have prosecuted in the state since 2011.
Devontre Thomas, 19, recently graduated from Chemawa Indian School in Salem and is heading to college this fall. But first, he’ll have to take a trip to the federal courthouse in Portland to fight the charge, stemming from an incident in March 2015.
Oregon voters legalized the use of recreational marijuana by adults in 2014. But it remains illegal for all purposes under federal law, where it is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, the same designation as heroin. The Justice Department has officially adopted a hands-off policy when it comes to state-level marijuana laws, as outlined in a 2013 memo by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole. However, the memo states that U.S. attorneys should continue to prosecute cases involving “the distribution of marijuana to minors.”
Still, many are calling it a federal overreach, given the minuscule amount of marijuana involved in Thomas’s case — enough for one or two typical joints.