Buried in the 1,600 pages of Congress’ new spending plan is a quiet little passage that radically alters the way America treats medical marijuana.
The provision ends the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and bans federal agents from policing its users or raiding dispensaries in any state or district where it is legal.
The spending plan, and the medical pot provision within it, became law on Friday, with President Obama’s signature.
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Thirty-two of the 50 states and the District of Columbia have already legalized some form of marijuana use, or its ingredients, for medication.
Federal law still designates cannabis in any form as an illegal drug and, since federal law takes precedent over the states, federal law enforcement agents have been allowed, until now, to persecute people using or distributing medical marijuana even in states that had legalized it.
This provision shuts down those operations and signals a shift in federal drug policy. For the first time, there was significant Republican support for easing of pot laws
“This is a victory for so many,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican and co-author of the provision, said after it passed. “The first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana.”
Medical marijuana has been used to treat glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, nerve and seizure disorders, and chronic pain. Check out this Special to GNN from last month: Marijuana Fills Dire Medical Needs of Families, States Try to Catch Up.
Photo: O’Dea, CC; Laurie Avocado, CC
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