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Medical Marijuana Gets Historical Political Support
Republicans and Democrats have been largely divided on the issue of medical marijuana, but Congress showed surprising and historical support in favor of it last weekend, approving a provision that prevents federal authorities from interfering with states that pass pro-pot legislation.
The Future for Legalized Marijuana
The $1.1 trillion spending bill released two weeks ago bars the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration from using this money to halt or tamper with state-legal medical marijuana and industrial hemp research.
Legal medical marijuana programs have been passed in 23 states, while legal industrial hemp research currently takes place in 18 states. Industrial hemp production was legalized last February and is conducted in states that permit it.
“The enactment of this legislation will mark the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana and has instead taken an approach to respect the many states that have permitted the use of medical marijuana to some degree,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif), who introduced the medical marijuana protections amendment with co-sponsor Rep. Sam Farr (D-Caif.)
A Few Anti-Marijuana Specifics Linger
Marijuana will also remain classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it is in the same category as cocaine and heroin.
However, Congress did block federal and local funds from being used in the District of Columbia to enact any law, rule or regulation that would legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use or distribution” of marijuana.
Marijuana will also remain classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it is in the same category as cocaine and heroin. Schedule I drugs are labeled as having “no currently accepted medical use” and a “high potential for abuse.”
Majority Support of the People
The decision to keep federal authorities out of legal marijuana comes at a time when more Americans are showing support for keeping pot-related decisions at the state level.
A new report released this month by think tank Third Way found that 60 percent of Americans want states to decide whether marijuana should be legalized rather than federal authorities. More than 67 percent of those polled also wanted a “safe haven” law that protects legal marijuana users from federal laws.
“A supermajority of Americans believes that federal policymakers have a role to play in this discussion,” reported Third Way.
“They should act to provide a safe haven from federal law for states that have already legalized marijuana and are acting responsibly to strictly regulate it.”
About a dozen bills were also introduced last year to limit interference in legal medical marijuana programs by the federal government.
Additional Reading: Marijuana Retail Stores: Do We Really Need Them?