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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Did Congress Really Just End The Federal Ban On Marijuana?

For whatever reason, there hasn't been a lot of talk about this in the mainstream media. We think it's sort of a big deal...

Under a provision in the spending bill that Congress just passed over the weekend, individual states where medical marijuana is already legal, or states where it will become legal in the future, will no longer be victimized by federal drug agents. That means that retailers and dispensaries would no longer need to worry about DEA agents raiding their operations, where as in the past they have selectively targeted some shops, even though they have been in compliance with the laws of their individual states. Now, agents would be prohibited from doing so.
But does this mean that the federal ban on marijuana is effectively over, as some articles and pundits have claimed? The good news is: yes. Sort of.

The bad news is: no. Sort of.
The issue at hand is beyond complex, and far from black and white in terms of the law.
The provision, which was introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) had been tacked on to the omnibus spending bill. It explicitly prohibits the Justice Department from spending money in any way that would result in them “preventing” states or the District of Columbia from “implementing” their own laws that allow the medical use of marijuana.
The Rohrabacher amendment should indeed prohibit federal prosecutors from targeting dispensaries and patients who are in compliance with their individual state laws. But this is not quite as big as truly ending the federal ban on marijuana.
Nevertheless, for all intents and purposes, when it comes to the DEA prosecuting people in states that are marijuana-friendly, the federal ban is “effectively” toothless now.

What to watch for now is the expiration of the rider at the end of next September when it may or may not be renewed. If it is not, then that’s the end of that, and we go right back to the drawing board with DEA agents harassing people who are in absolute compliance with the laws of their states. But if it is renewed, then this could in fact truly be the beginning of the end for the federal ban on marijuana.