Today, a California Congressman introduced legislation that would finally give pot clubs the smoke break they deserve.
Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) rolled out a new bill that would modify the federal Controlled Substances Act so anyone complying with state marijuana laws, (i.e. pot clubs and pot smokers with medical marijuana cards) would be immune from federal prosecution.
The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act (H.R. 1523) would clear not just marijuana consumers, but also medical and non-medical marijuana businesses operating in states where medical marijuana is legal.
And for good reason.
The Pew Research Center released a study last week which found that 60 percent of Americans believe the feds need to back off states where marijuana is legal. As of now, 18 states, including California, allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to people with chronic pain and other conditions. In November, voters in Colorado and Washington State approved measures making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and directing state regulatory bodies to create regulations for businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana to adults.
In California, a bill like this would mean no more federal crack-downs on pot clubs that are legally operating in the state. Since 2011, the Department of Justice has been shutting down permitted medical marijuana clubs across San Francisco (it's for the children!).
"This bipartisan bill represents a common-sense approach that establishes federal government respect for all states' marijuana laws," Rohrabacher said in a statement released today. "It does so by keeping the federal government out of the business of criminalizing marijuana activities in states that don't want it to be criminal."
It's not the first time legislators in D.C. have tried to protect medical marijuana-loving states from the federal government. Some (social) Republicans like Rohrabacher have been motivated by money, specifically the mounting money the feds have spent to enforce federal marijuana laws in states where pot is legal. However, that legislation failed to even make it past congressional committee hearings.
So will this bill die like the rest of them, or do we have reason to believe finally the political will is there?
"Marijuana prohibition is on its last legs because most Americans no longer support it. This legislation presents a perfect opportunity for members to embrace the notion that states should be able to devise systems for regulating marijuana without their citizens having to worry about breaking federal law," said Steve Fox, national political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "If a state chooses to take marijuana sales away from cartels and the criminal market and put them in the hands of legitimate, tax-paying businesses, it should be able to do so without federal interference."