Although the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a Denver dispensary’s appeal over the tax code’s treatment of the marijuana industry, one justice issued a broad statement about the “contradictory and unstable” relationship between state policies legalizing cannabis and the federal government’s inconsistent enforcement of its prohibition.

Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday wrote separately to say that federal authorities have sent mixed signals to the 36 states allowing medicinal marijuana and 18 states with retail marijuana, and suggested it might be time to scrap the Court’s 16-year-old precedent allowing for crackdowns on pot in places where it is legal.

“A prohibition on intrastate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the Federal Government’s piecemeal approach,” Thomas argued.

“This is one of the first statements, and maybe the first, I have seen from a Supreme Court justice about it,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of Berkeley Law who has written about the conflict between state and federal laws regarding marijuana.

James D. Thorburn, the attorney representing Standing Akimbo medical dispensary in Denver, believed Thomas may have been speaking for more members of the court than just himself, and called the statement

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