The U.S. Supreme Court came out against deportation for certain marijuana possession offenses, according to the Associated Press, ruling that possession of small amounts of marijuana should not warrant the automatic deportation of legal immigrants.
A Jamaican man, who’s been in the U.S. since he was a toddler, was deported after being charged with marijuana possession (1.3 ounces). Under the law in the state where he was arrested, marijuana is taken pretty seriously. For having the equivalent of two or three joints, he was not only charged with possession, but possession with intent to distribute.
As a result, the AP writes that he was treated like he was “a major drug dealer,” at least in terms of the deportation consequences.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor disagreed, saying that mere possession without any evidence of intent to distribute didn’t qualify as an aggravated felony fit to lead to automatic deportation. However, she also said: “Escaping aggravated felony treatment does not mean escaping deportation,” which seems to leave the door open for the Justice Department to deport other legal immigrants who run afoul of the law.
But the Jamaican man may have a reasonable shot at returning and staying in the U.S. As the AP reports, his attorney has characterized his case as a “minor” one.