I saw a job opening for a software developer position working in the marijuana industry. This is a job where I would not be directly handling or distributing marijuana. The company would be based in a state in which it is legal, and I would be working from a remote office here in New York state

Currently marijuana is illegal in New York (though there is an ongoing legislative battle over legalization). Even if it were legal here, at the Federal level it is still illegal and could be considered a felony from my understanding.

My question is, if I were to work at a job like this, doing nothing but developing software to help a company grow and distribute in a different state without ever handling it myself, would I be breaking any state laws?

As a note, I did see this question here which pertains to working for a company in general within a legal state. This question pertains more to working outside of a legal state but in a job where no marijuana is actually handled.


1 Answer 1


The Federal government could charge such a person with conspiracy to distribute, or with aiding and abetting distribution, or under a RICO (Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt organization) case. Other federal charges might perhaps apply. The state of New York might possibly be able to pursue a conspiracy charge as well.

In the current political climate, I doubt very much the the NY authorities would make any attempt to bring such a charge, but climates can change. And I hesitate to speculate on what the current federal authorities might do. So far as I know, the Feds have not in fact brought any charges of this sort ro date. (The appropriations rider mentioned in the linked Q&A blocking some federal actions in such matters has expired and Congress refused to renew it, I understand.)

Whether any such charge would stand up in court is yet another question, but no one would welcome going through a criminal trial, even if it ended in an acquittal. And there would be a risk of conviction.

There would be some risk in such a position. How large that risk would be, I cannot evaluate.

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    To add to the great points that you've made, the Federal government could in fact pursue charges against a distributor in a state where marijuana is completely and fully legal, because of duel sovereignty. Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 7:08

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