It’s that time of year when Congress actually gets things done, so they don’t have to work through the holidays. This is always a powerful incentive, and this year is no different. Paul Ryan actually bargained with Democrats instead of following the hotheads in his party into another government shutdown,Custom Bengals Jersey which bodes well for the future of the House of Representatives (and America at large). But, as with all big omnibus budget bills, this means all kinds of unrelated issues — from health care for 9/11 first responders to whether we export oil or not — are tossed into the giant,Youth Nike Carolina Panthers Custom Made Elite Team Color Black Football Jersey, must-pass bill. And along with the wave of other single-issue items came some good news for marijuana legal reformers.
Two riders to the big budget bill will continue to prevent the Department of Justice (which includes the Drug Enforcement Agency) from spending one thin dime to interfere with the implementation of state marijuana laws — even though all of those laws run counter to federal drug law. This is Congress using its famous “power of the purse” to zero out the federal budget for fighting against medical marijuana state laws and hemp cultivation state laws. The medical marijuana provision is already law, having been passed as part of the previous federal budget. It means the Drug Enforcement Agency cannot spend any money on harassing medical marijuana providers, as long as they’re faithfully following their state’s laws.
Or at least that’s the law’s intent. The Department of Justice has “interpreted” the law a little differently, which is why some U.S. Attorneys are still pursuing court cases against state-legal medical marijuana providers. Sooner or later, though, Personalized NFL Football Jersey the Attorney General is going to have to bow to the reality of the clear intent of this law and stop this legal harassment for good. Congress (and, by extension, The People) are telling the federal government not to spend any money on fighting a losing battle. That money should rightfully be spent on other drug enforcement, period.
Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority advocacy group, reacted to the news in a statement:
While marijuana was once treated like a dangerous third-rail by most elected officials, the inclusion of these provisions demonstrates how it has now become a mainstream issue at the forefront of American politics and policymaking. Polls show that a growing majority of voters support ending prohibition,Men’s Nike Customized New England Patriots Elite Throwback Red Alternate Football Jersey, and lawmakers can’t help but listen. This is the second year in a row that Congress is using the appropriations process to tell federal agents and prosecutors not to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. But so far the Department of Justice has taken the absurd position that these spending provisions don’t actually prevent them from going after patients and providers who operate legally under state policies. The intent of Congress is clear, and so is the will of the American people. Since the Justice Department is being so stubborn, the next step should be for lawmakers to pass permanent standalone legislation that goes beyond these temporary spending riders. Then the D.E.A. will have a much harder time undermining Congress and voters.
While all of this is good news, there were other commonsense reforms which unfortunately did not make it into the final bill. One would have allowed Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans (notably, to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) without retaliation, and would have also prevented the V.A. from denying services to any veteran who is a medical marijuana patient (as long as they follow their state’s laws). Another important reform that failed this year was a provision which would have prevented the federal government from punishing banks that do business with state-legal marijuana operations. This is a big stumbling block to the entire industry, and would have been a welcome change, but it looks like it’ll have to wait for another year.
Angell, however, remains optimistic about the future:
While we’d of course like to have seen Congress include provisions protecting veterans and allowing for banking access, there’s no denying that marijuana reformers have political momentum behind us. The federal government is on notice, more states are passing good laws and our movement is growing. We’re going to see even more spending provisions enacted next year, and perhaps even some standalone bills in the near future.
Next year could be the biggest “Year of the Marijuana Voter” America has yet seen. Outright recreational legalization (for adults) is probably going to be on the ballot in multiple states across the country in 2016. So far, four states and D.C. have pioneered this radical path, but the number of states with fully-legal Men’s Nike Custom Made Cincinnati Bengals Elite Team Color Black NFL Football Jersey marijuana could easily double — or even triple — next year. This will likely set off a stampede, as other states greedily eye all those millions of tax dollars flowing in.
Politicians are starting to realize that there are a lot of pro-marijuana voters out there, and that many of them are “single-issue” voters — meaning it’s really the only reason they go to the polls. When even a Republican-led Congress begins dismantling the War On Weed (one tiny chip at a time),Youth Nike Custom Made Cincinnati Bengals Elite Team Color Black NFL Football Jersey,then fundamental legal reform can’t be too far off.