If a state passes a law deeming marijuana a legal substance, the federal government should have no authority over the prosecution of individuals for crimes associated with the substance. This is the battle cry of a recent piece of legislation, which swept through Capitol Hill this week on bipartisan wings, aimed at blocking Uncle Sam from unleashing the dogs of the drug war against states that have legalized the leaf for medicinal or recreational purposes.
The bill entitled the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015” was introduced to Congress earlier this week by Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California. It seeks to provide immunity against federal prosecution for individuals and businesses abiding state marijuana laws. And while this legislative offering is a short document, the implications between the lines are substantial, as it suggests the passing of this measure could be all that is needed to basically eliminate prohibition on a federal level.
Unlike the CARERS Act, which is a bid to legalize medical marijuana nationwide, Rohrabacher’s latest proposal would extend the same protection the medical sector of the cannabis industry needs to the recreational side, which would allow states the ability to legalize weed for any purpose without concerns over violating federal statutes.
“The American people, through the 35 states that have liberalized laws banning either medical marijuana, marijuana in general, or cannabinoid oils, have made it clear that federal enforcers should stay out of their personal lives,” Rohrabacher said in a statement. “It’s time for restraint of the federal government’s over-aggressive weed warriors.”
Although the Obama Administration has provided the cannabis industry with an illusion of freedom that has bamboozled legal states into thinking that they can operate in the business of marijuana without being thrown in prison, there are no laws on the books that make this a binding promise – therefore, leaving the door open for federal officials to rip the head off what they like to call “the legal marijuana experiment” at any time.
The Justice Department announced last year that it did not intend to interfere with legal weed, as long as states maintained a tight regulatory leash on this up and coming industrial monster. This lack of action was allegedly cosigned at the end of 2014, when a federal spending bill signed by President Obama was supposed to prevent federal funds from being used to target the medical marijuana community.
However, earlier this month, The Los Angeles Times reported that the fine print of the federal spending bill, which was touted by drug policy experts as an end of prohibitionary times, does not actually prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration from lashing out against patients and dispensaries; it only prevents the government from going after legal states.
The latest House bill, however, would ensure discrepancies such as these no longer exist across America by eliminating the conflict between state and federal marijuana statutes. If passed, it would simply amend the Controlled Substances Act to no longer apply to any person acting in compliance with state pot laws.
Public policy experts are excited about the emergence of this legislation, as they believe it could be a major turning point in nationwide pot reform.
“Unlike other bills that address only some aspects of the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws,” says Dan Riffle, with the Marijuana Policy Project, “this bill resolves the issue entirely by letting states determine their own policies. It’s the strongest federal legislation introduced to date, and it’s the bill most likely to pass in a Republican-controlled Congress. Nearly every GOP presidential contender has said marijuana policy should be a state issue, not a federal one, essentially endorsing this bill.” you