U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Accepts Marijuana Deportation Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether an immigrant caught with 1.3 grams of marijuana—about half the weight of a penny—may be deported to Jamaica.

Adrian Moncrieffe pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute under Georgia law. The record didn’t specify whether he received money for the pot; the state law bans both paid and unpaid distribution.

The United States claims Moncrieffe was guilty of drug trafficking, an aggravated felony that can result in deportation under federal law. Moncrieffe’s lawyers argue he is guilty of no more than distributing a small amount of marijuana for no renumeration, a misdemeanor under federal law that is not a deportable offense.

Moncrieffe’s cert petition (PDF) says that, when the record is unclear, Supreme Court precedent requires a presumption that the immigrant engaged in the least culpable conduct that would violate the state statute. Federal appeals courts have split on the issue.

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