The government might actually stop attacking legal cannabis? Congress passed the federal spending bill in a special session on Saturday, and cannabis enthusiasts and sympathizers are holding their breath. The proposed spending bill includes a huge blessing for all medical cannabis states, and may be the first explicit step in the federal government reversing a decades-long prohibition of cannabis.
Cannabis May Be Off the Chopping Block
The bill reached the White House today, December 15th, 2015 and Obama is expected to sign it into effect rather quickly. If approved, the United States government will be able to fund itself through at least February of 2015, partly by cutting back on cannabis prohibition. In an effort to reduce unnecessary costs, the new spending bill states that the federal government can no longer use any federal funds to investigate and prosecute legal medical cannabis operations and dispensaries that comply with their state’s laws:
“None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” (Proposed Federal Spending Bill)
Cannabis patients, producers and vendors everywhere are bubbling with excitement as the dream of responsible US drug policy takes one step closer to becoming a reality. Due to a lack of money, the government is finally honoring each state’s right to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use. There are currently over 1 million registered cannabis patients who can truly relax when munching on edibles or consuming cannabis extracts.
Waste of Federal Resources on Legal Cannabis
According to a report released by Americans for Safe Access, by mid-2013 there had already been 270 medical cannabis raids conducted under the Obama administration, and more than $300 million spent on raids in states with existing medical cannabis laws. When he was first elected, many cannabis sympathizers were initially pleased with President Obama’s claims that the federal government would not be going after cannabis in states where it was legal. Contrary to that original promise, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (under the Obama administration) has wasted $100 million more on medical cannabis than President George W. Bush did in his two terms combined. Mounting pressure from states with medical cannabis laws has left lawmakers with little choice but to begin honoring states’ rights. The use of federal funds to undermine state cannabis laws is a misuse of America’s limited budget and an insult to individual state constitutions.
Today marks the first time the executive branch of the government could dramatically reduce federal influence on cannabis. Of course, federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule-1 narcotic with no medicinal value. However, if a state decides otherwise through democratic process, the federal government should respect that decision. Although it may be due to financial woes, it seems that respect for states’ rights has made its way back to our nation’s capitol. The federal spending bill is designed with economics in mind, and it seems that the government has decided that fighting against legal cannabis is no longer worth the cost. It is not going to be easy for the DEA to ignore their war on cannabis, but without money, the cannabis community gets a chance to promote responsible use and legal compliance. If we continue to grow cannabis knowledge and understanding, the federal government will have far less reason to compete against cannabis and states’ rights in the future.