Marijuana Reform News in the U.S. Today:
The push for marijuana legalization has resulted in 23 states passing medical marijuana laws so far. Four states have taken reform a step further and passed laws to permit the recreational use of marijuana. Even the more conservative states are taking action to decriminalize marijuana. Marijuana reform continues to happen across the U.S. and many advocates believe that the state by state approach may be the best approach which eventually leads to a national end to prohibition. The federal government still lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug categorized alongside other drugs that are considered very dangerous with no medicinally beneficial uses. Despite this listing, the federal government must take notice that reform is happening and momentum continues to build. More states are expected to consider and pass marijuana reform law in 2016. This could be why the federal government recently included language in a recently approved bill that addresses medical marijuana management.
Federal Government Adds Medical Marijuana Language:
The federal government just quietly included language in a recent spending bill that will alter the way the federal government responds to medical marijuana businesses. In the past, the federal government could go into the state and raid medical marijuana distributors, even if they were legally approved by the state in which they were doing business. Since federal law still prohibits marijuana on the national level and takes precedence over state law, agents could raid medical marijuana dispensaries, seize the medical marijuana, fine the business owners and potentially enforce additional criminal penalties including incarceration. The spending bill legislation includes language that will address how the federal government views marijuana. Advocates for legalized marijuana view this action as another step closer to the end of federal marijuana prohibition.
New Bill Relaxes Federal Stance on Marijuana:
The Omnibus Appropriations bill was approved by Congress and this bill is responsible for funding the federal government through the 2016 fiscal year. Included in the bill is a provision that prevents the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending money to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. An additional provision prevents the federal government from interfering with the implementation of state industrial hemp research programs. These provisions were reauthorized and will extend through the 2016 fiscal year.
Support for this bill shows that Congress recognizes marijuana reform is happening across the country. Advocates for marijuana legalization hope to see additional marijuana reform legislation passed in 2016.