Cannabis has been under siege by the federal government for a long time, and unduly so. Even when states like California began to legalize medical and then recreational cannabis, the Department of Justice still routinely had legal shops raided and brought charges against them. In a beautiful move of bipartisan harmony, however, legislatures in Congress have decided to protect state and tribal cannabis rights.
Legal cannabis provides medicine, recreation, and jobs to millions of Americans every day. This piece of the legislature would ensure the rights and voices of states that have legalized cannabis would not be silenced. Let’s take a look at why this matters.
Why state legalization doesn’t mean total protection
Currently, 19 states have legalized recreational cannabis and 36 have medical legalization. Regardless of this, the federal government still has cannabis listed as a controlled substance, and it’s still illegal to possess, sell, and use. This means that the ATF and Justice Department can raid and charge perfectly legal businesses if it so chooses.
While these raids aren’t as common as they were years ago, they still happen. This means that you could, in theory, create a thriving cannabis business or begin a medical marijuana therapy and have it all taken away on a federal whim. For this reason, state and tribal legality doesn’t fully protect your rights.
What does this proposal do?
If passed, this proposal would stop all funding of Dept of Justice programs to attack or dismantle cannabis operations in states where it is legal. It would, in essence, fully protect state’s rights which have voted to legalize cannabis in any way. Without funding for raids and prosecution of cannabis users and businesses, and with those state laws being federally protected, we’d finally be able to breathe a bit easier.
Why does this matter?
Federal legalization of cannabis might be closer than we think – President Joe Biden has expressed his support for the idea. This is a step in that direction, but it is also a step in taking the teeth from the war on drugs. It’s been a disastrous and pointless waste of money and lives, and it’s incarcerated thousands of poor people for having some weed on their persons.
The ramifications for this law and what it could symbolize are huge – the beginning of the end of the classist, racist war on drugs. Additionally, it may ease the mind of people who want to buy and sell cannabis, or use it for medicine, but are afraid of it being illegal federally.
What does this proposal mean for you?
Ultimately, if you’re a cannabis user, grower, or business owner, it could mean that you’re able to rest a bit easier. It might mean that you’re free to treat your disease with cannabis, or to open that company you’ve wanted to for years. If nothing else, it’s a boon for state’s rights and for the voice of the people.
Dispensaries, cafés, and independent businesses can provide a benefit to the community without worry about the misguided federal law attacking them. It’s also a cultural win; a step closer to the dismantling of the illegality of this plant that helps so many people. With it will hopefully come progress that benefits millions of people across the country.