Congress recently passed a landmark federal spending bill including a provision that will effectively end the federal government’s prohibition of medical marijuana in U.S. states with legal cannabis programs. The prospective law, expected to be signed by President Obama in the coming week, will have an effect on 32 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, where cannabis is currently legal for medical consumption.
A majority of U.S. states now support some form of significant pro-cannabis reform. Oregon and Alaska approved legalization of recreational marijuana and more states have plans to follow suit with various kinds of marijuana reform in 2015 and 2016 elections.
Despite the federal government’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug along with heroin, LSD, ecstasy and cocaine, the pending law would nevertheless prohibit DEA agents from raiding marijuana dispensaries that are in compliance with state regulations. The amendment to the omnibus spending bill blocks using funds from the Department of Justice to, “prevent [medical marijuana states] from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
“The federal government should never get in between patients and their medicine,” Democratic Representative Barbara Lee of California said in a Los Angeles Times article.
The longstanding practice of federal raids on legitimate, compliant marijuana dispensaries looks to be on the wane and along with prison terms for countless individuals who were deemed innocent in the eyes of the state but technically guilty in the eyes of the feds.
From Guam to Massachusetts — and a host of states in between that have voted for cannabis legalization and decriminalization — state constituents will soon be assured that the initiatives they approve regarding cannabis legalization will be completely upheld in the federal courts.
“When the House first passed this measure back in May, we made headlines; today we made history,” said Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) — a congressman who in May introduced the medical marijuana protections amendment.
“The federal government will finally respect the decisions made by the majority of states that passed medical marijuana laws,” Farr added. “This is great day for common sense because now our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on prosecuting criminals and not sick patients.”
What do you think? Should marijuana businesses be protected in legal states? Tell us in the comments below.