The End of Federal Marijuana Prohibition Near?

One of the ongoing threats to California marijuana dispensaries, growers and users is the ongoing federal prohibition on the drug. marijuana2

To this day, despite the increasing research findings proving the medicinal and societal benefits of the drug, it remains under a Schedule I narcotic designation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This is true even as lawmakers in four states plus Washington, D.C. have approved the cultivation, sale and possession of recreational use. This prohibition is what has forced marijuana dispensaries to operate in cash, because banks won’t handle their money. It’s the reason marijuana cultivators and distributors have faced criminal prosecution, even when carefully following state laws.

The good news is that there are many signs this could be on the verge of changing. For one thing, national polls show 89 percent of Americans support medical cannabis – and that includes 81 percent of Republicans. 

It seems discouraging that some in power – including Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senate Judiciary leader and a staunch opponent to legal marijuana – denied a hearing on the pro-medical marijuana Compassionate Access, Research Expansion (CARERS) Act last year.

But there is evidence to suggest the tide is turning – and quickly.

Let’s start with the fact that while Grassley and other powerful lawmakers have worked hard to block even a frank discussion of the issue, other members – including conservative North Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham – are acting as co-sponsors on CARERS. Graham even held a Senate hearing to weigh research on the potential medical benefits and risks of the drug.

There is also the fact that national organizations that advocate for patient rights are calling for a change of federal law. In fact, a letter recently signed by 13 patient organizations was submitted to Senate Judiciary Committee members as well as the DEA, urging action to change the designation from a Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act to something lesser. This would ultimately remove federal barriers and allow for new treatments and research that would allow patients to make informed choices.

On top of that, our California marijuana lawyers have kept our readers well-informed of the changing landscape with regard to medical cannabis laws. The fact that even typically conservative states are making moves on this – most recently Arkansas and Missouri – speaks volumes about the traction of movement.

Further, many states with existing marijuana laws are going back to improve or expand them. Take California, for example. This was the very first state to pass medical marijuana laws. Now, this November, voters will be deciding on a measure that would open the doors to the legalization of recreational marijuana cultivation, distribution and possession. Other states, like Maryland, are expanding the types of providers who are allowed to write prescriptions for the drug.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an updated guideline to pain clinic doctors, urging them not to treat for marijuana usage if it was going to be used as grounds to deny treatment. The center noted that barring patients who use marijuana from receiving pain medication could be considered a form of patient abandonment, which could have adverse consequences to patient health.

This is just the start. Still, the drug remains illegal at the federal level and patients, caregivers and dispensaries would do well to consult with a marijuana attorney on any lingering questions or ongoing issues.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

10 smoke signals heralding the end of marijuana prohibition, July 14, 2016, By Steph Sherer, Americans for Safe Access

More Blog Entries:

New Yorkers Priced Out of Medical Marijuana? July 2, 2016, L.A. Marijuana Lawyer Blog