Although 19 US states allow for medical use of cannabis, and Colorado and Washington State allow for recreational use, marijuana is classified under US Federal law as a Schedule 1 drug along side Morphine and LSD. Due to the current administration in Washington D.C., progressive cannabis legislation has the ability to be put forward on a national level. Colorado and Oregon US Representatives Jared Polis and Earl Blumenauer, both Democrats, are sponsoring H.R. 689, the States Medical Marijuana Protection Act, which would reclassify cannabis for medical use and allow states to regulate marijuana without federal interference. If the bill were to be made law, the floodgates would open, and medical use of cannabis would soon become legal in all US states. Fear by states of federal prosecution would be gone, and states would no longer have to fear federal agents raiding state-legal businesses. As Jared Polis puts it, “Congress should simply allow states to regulate marijuana as they see fit and stop wasting federal dollars on the failed drug war.” Another bill introduced before the US Congress, H. R. 6134, sponsored by Representatives Mike Honda and Sam Farr of California, would allow patients to use a medical defense for the use of cannabis in federal court. As US law stands at present, patients are exposed to federal prosecution in a system of “first strike and your out” laws that hand down decades-long sentences for either medical or recreational cannabis use.
As Rep. Earl Blumenauer puts it,”The government is in a tough spot. Cannabis is still a Schedule 1 substance. Yes, many states have taken action to legalize medical marijuana, but 31 have not. Obama has to obey the law.” H.R. 689 includes provisions that would allow for research into the beneficial medicinal properties of cannabis. At present, the federal government limits research to the addictive properties of cannabis only. Enforcement and authority of federal marijuana law would be taken away from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, meaning that cannabis would be regulated as alcohol is at present. Cannabis growers would be required to purchase a permit as producers of alcohol do at this time, the proceeds of which would offset the cost of federal oversight. The law would also distinguish between those commercial growers who produce cannabis on a larger or massive scale and individuals who grow marijuana for personal use. Personally, I never thought I’d see the day.