(Re)United and It Feels so Good
Last Wednesday the House of Representatives renewed an amendment that blocks federal prosecution of Cannabis operations; provided they are in compliance with state law. This week the Senate has also jumped on the bandwagon, passing the similarly worded Mikulski Medical Cannabis Amendment by a vote of 20-10. This vote marks the first time the Senate has weighed in on medical Cannabis programs at the state level. These amendments, passed within a week of each other, combine to send a very reassuring message to the medical community. Government officials are seeing the positive impact being made by the industry, both financially and medically.
With as many as 275 million people spread across 39 states in which medical Cannabis programs exist, patients all over the country are continuing to rely on the advancement of treatments.
For all intents and purposes, the amendment, proposed by Senator Barbara Miluski (D-MD), contains the same language as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that passed through the House last week.Generally speaking the legislation prevents the Department of Justice, or any other federal agency, from allocating funding to prosecutions, raids or arrests of Cannabis programs if it is legal within the state. The objective behind passing a similar amendment through the Senate was to unify government branches and further strengthen the separation between state and federal government pertaining to Cannabis regulation. As expected, activists supporting medical use were very satisfied by the result of the voting.
“Today the Senate is joining the House of Representatives and recognizing the only responsible course of action is for the federal government to leave state medical cannabis programs alone and let them provide their citizens with this much needed medical option…Along (with) the recent vote to end the gag order on VA doctors recommending medical cannabis we’re seeing undeniable Senate support for the policy changes in the CARERS act.” – Government Affairs Director Mike Liszewski – Americans for Safe Access
‘The Carers Act’ Mike Liszewski is referring to represents the next step in the legislative process and would make the protections afforded by the Mikulski Medical Cannabis Amendment permanent. If successful, this amendment will provide the groundwork for unprecedented cooperation between federal and state officials. Most importantly, given this newly developed cooperation, it will directly lead to more research and development in the medical field, as scientists and investors become less weary of the industry. In the past, some potential researchers have referred to the study of Cannabis science as ‘career suicide’, citing the legal ramifications caused by the rift between state and federal law. The importance of this research cannot be understated and ongoing federal legislation will only open the door for more opportunity and discovery. With as many as 275 million people spread across 39 states in which medical Cannabis programs exist, patients all over the country are continuing to rely on the advancement of treatments. For a long time the irony surrounding medical Cannabis development was that, in order to show medical benefits to government officials, research and testing had to be provided. However, without the governments support of legalization, most researches steered away from the industry to avoid legal woes.
According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, by removing criminal penalties the state has saved anywhere from $12 million to $40 million dollars over the last year.
Through activism, independent trials and state-by-state legislation this testing has been given life and the results are becoming more and more impressive. Not only are government officials witnessing the medical impact of the Cannabis community, but they are also seeing the tax revenue generated through proper regulation. In Colorado alone $76 Million was generated from the Cannabis industry in 2014. But that’s not all. Officials can add millions to that number due to the money saved by removing criminal penalties. According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, by removing criminal penalties the state has saved anywhere from $12 million to $40 million dollars over the last year. Plain and simple, if representatives can show a regulatory model that can generate over a net gain of $100 Million, federal officials will be forced to take it seriously. No, the systems in every state are not perfect. Yes, they can and will be improved upon over time. But the message from government officials is clear, keep showing positive progress and the industry will get more and more slack on the rope until one day the ties are severed.
What are your thoughts about this new federal legislation? What do you think it will take to make the federal government give up control all together?
Photo Credit: Yu-chuan Hsu