Why Congress Decided to End Nationwide Medical Marijuana Prohibition


In another momentous move toward universal medical marijuana legalization, Congress tucked a surprise into its $1 trillion spending bill that passed on December 11.

Within the countless pages of the spending bill sits a provision that will no longer allow the Justice Department to spend money on enforcing the nationwide ban on growing and selling the plant within the 23 states where medical marijuana has been made legal.

For Congress, this provision marks a sea change after years of siding with federal prosecutors in the debate over making marijuana laws more liberalized, according to The Atlantic.

“The war on medical marijuana is over,” Bill Piper, a Drug Policy Alliance, told the Los Angeles Times.

Perhaps most astonishing is that this provision made it through a Republican-controlled House — a sign that a growing number of those working on Capitol Hill recognize the medicinal uses of marijuana for cancer patients and others suffering from ailments that marijuana helps relieve.

Or it could be that the provision was written in a way that appeals to most conservatives. According to The Atlantic, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), one of the provision’s authors, called it an issue of state’s rights — that Congress needs to respect state sovereignty regarding their decisions on medical marijuana.

The decision by Congress to allow medical marijuana growers and sellers to carry on with their livelihoods without fear of prosecution is a reflection of public opinion, which continues to grow more supportive of using marijuana for medical purposes. According to The Atlantic, 78% of Americans now say they support allowing marijuana to be used for medical reasons.

As that percentage inches closer to 100%, it likely won’t be long before Congress makes medical marijuana use legal for residents of all 50 states.

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