According to various media outlets, prohibition on medical marijuana is now finally and officially over. Congress has passed a federal spending measure that includes a provision that effectively ends the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana and signals a major shift in U.S. drug policy. The passage of this bill also marks the first time Congress has approved nationally significant legislation backed by legalization advocates. Under the measure, states where medical marijuana is legal would no longer have to worry about federal agents raiding their retail operations – after the President signs the bill, the law will prohibit federal drug agents from raiding retail outlets in the 32 states and District of Columbia where the drug is legal for medicinal use.
End of conflicting state and federal laws
For every medical marijuana patient, this means that they no longer have to live in fear, worrying about finding themselves in the crossfire of conflicting state and federal laws, which has been their reality for the last twenty years. Moreover, the taxpayers could also claim a victory, because of all the money that will be saved on unnecessary and often-harmful law enforcement.
Obviously, the medical marijuana movement has picked up considerable momentum in recent years; however, the DEA continues to place marijuana in the most dangerous category of narcotics, with no accepted medical use. For many years Congress had refused to allow states to create their own path on marijuana. The marijuana measure, which forbids the federal government from using any of its resources to obstruct state medical marijuana laws, was rejected many times before. Now, it finally seems that the war for medical marijuana is over. However, the fight has moved on to legalization of all marijuana. At the moment, advocates are working on stronger protection for medical marijuana patients, with their efforts aiming at reclassification of marijuana for medical use and increase of therapeutic researches. What’s necessary is comprehensive medical marijuana legislation that will bring about wider and more lasting change for the millions of American people who rely on medical marijuana.
Mixed messages on legal marijuana
In a press release from Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which has been lobbying in support of the measure, Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the MPP says: “This measure passed because it received more support from Republicans than ever before. It is refreshing to see conservatives in Congress sticking to their conservative principles when it comes to marijuana policy. Republicans increasingly recognize that marijuana prohibition is a failed Big Government program that infringes on states’ rights.” The very thing that needs to be changed first seems to be the present classification of the drug. As we mentioned earlier, despite the prospective law, the DEA still classifieds marijuana in the same category as heroin, LSD, ecstasy and peyote, substances with no “accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” They even consider marijuana more dangerous than cocaine. Nevertheless, the decision of the Congress is of historical significance and a clear sign of a long-waited shift towards more reasonable and practical marijuana policy.
However, things might be far from coming to an end, because this is the very same bill that contains a rider with a purpose of preventing federal funds from being used to “enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance.” Indeed, the war for medical marijuana is over, but the fight for legalization has just begun.