April 23, 2013— -- The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that immigrants caught sharing small amounts of marijuana will not be subject to automatic deportation.
That means that Jamaican immigrant Adrian Moncrieffe can return to the U.S. and fight his deportation. After he was caught with the equivalent of three joints in Georgia in 2007, he was charged with a broad state statute that mixes lower- and higher-level marijuana offenses.
He pleaded guilty, which made him vulnerable to deportation years later. He wasn't able to appeal his deportation because his crime was classified as an "aggravated felony."
Basically, that meant that the immigration system viewed him the same way as it would view someone selling up to 10 pounds of narcotics.
Moncrieffe was a legal permanent resident who came to the U.S. at the age of 3. He had lived here for nearly three decades at the time of his arrest.
As I wrote back in October, the ruling won't bring about a major change in the immigration system, but it could affect the outcome in hundreds of similar cases each year.
Seven of the nine Supreme Court justices ruled in favor of Moncrieffe, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the majority opinion, a portion of which was cited in The New York Times:
"Sharing a small amount of marijuana for no remuneration, let alone possession with intent to do so, does not fit easily into the everyday understanding of trafficking, which ordinarily means some sort of commercial dealing."