Who could have predicted that the end to the federal ban on medical cannabis would come not with a bang, but with a whisper?
Quietly, and without much fanfare, the U.S. Congress approved a spending bill including a provision which lifts the federal ban on medical marijuana.
The legislation ending the federal prohibition of medical marijuana is nestled deep in the obscure pages of a 2,000-page spending and appropriations bill passed by Congress on December 17, 2015
The war on medical marijuana is now nearly won.
Before the ban was lifted, federal cannabis laws took precedence over states’ medical marijuana laws. This meant that federal agents could legally raid states where medical cannabis was legal.
In California, for example, federal agents regularly raid state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries, seizing property and assets. Just last October, DEA agents raided two dispensary locations of LA-based The Farmacy dispensary, one in West Hollywood and the other in Westwood, taking money, cannabis and computers in the process.
But under the new legislation, which renews a similar provision lifting the medical cannabis ban tucked inside a 2014 spending bill, medical marijuana dispensaries and patients are now safe from raids and investigation conducted by federal agents.
Speaking with Inquisitr, Representative Dana Rohrabacher, who was a co-author on the provision, described the December spending bill as a political victory. “This is a victory for so many. The first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana.”
For many, the move is part of a series of recent events which signal a sea-change in the federal government’s stance on medical marijuana. Just last week, the Obama administration voiced adamant support for states which have legalized and regulated their own cannabis markets.
States that prohibit cannabis yet share borders with weed-legal states have begin suing the latter, and the Obama administration dismissed the lawsuits as legally groundless.
The new provision which lifts the federal ban tolls the death knell for those lawsuits, which now have no leg to stand on.
Of course, lifting the ban on medical marijuana does not mean that cannabis is entirely legal. It still remains prohibited at the federal level for recreational use. But, continuing to life the ban on medical herb means that this is the only hurdle left for the legalization movement in the U.S.
Full legalization of marijuana is still being debated in Congress, but it’s extremely unlikely to gain much traction.
Still, people in favor of its use, medical or otherwise, see this new legislation as a sign that Congress is taking steps in the right direction.