Is Congress officially calling off the war on medical weed? Late Thursday night the U.S. House of Representatives passed an appropriations amendment offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) to restrict the Drug Enforcement Administration from using federal funds to target medical marijuana operations in states where it is legal.
Medical marijuana is legal in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Five other states (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Utah and Wisconsin) have legalized CBD extracts—meaning 60 percent of the U.S. population lives in a battleground where state and federal laws are at war.
“The conflicting nature of state and federal marijuana laws has created an untenable situation,” said amendment cosponsor, Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). “It’s time we take the federal government out of the equation so medical marijuana business owners operating under state law aren’t living in constant fear of having their doors kicked down in the middle of the night.”
Recreational weed is legal in Colorado and Washington. Fifty-eight percent of Americans say it should be legal nationwide and 75 percent predict that it will happen soon. Even President Obama has come out saying he smoked weed and that pot is as dangerous as alcohol. However, this new legislation isn’t about changing opinions—it’s about money. At issue here is a routine spending bill: providing federal funding for a slew of agencies, including the Justice Department, who uses that cash to fight harder now more than ever against medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they’re permitted by law.
Looking ahead, it’s not yet a done deal. The same spending bill has yet to be taken up by the Senate. Plus it’ll also need to be signed by President Obama. However, history has been made. This legislation marks the first time that Congress has voted in favor of ending the federal government’s draconian war on medical weed.
“The significance of it is a symbolic importance,” says Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project. “We are nearing a point now where the United States Congress is essentially ready to end marijuana prohibition.”
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