Legalize Marijuana: Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

By: Stephen H. Siegel

In the aftermath of the elections, last November, proponents of legalizing marijuana scored a number of victories. For them, the goal of legalizing marijuana nationwide seems closer than ever. However, the elections have released counter-forces that may seriously upset their vision of the future of marijuana in the United States.

In August 2013, the Department of Justice issued guidance to states indicating that this agency intended to devote fewer resources to investigating and prosecuting individuals who distribute and consume marijuana in a manner that is consistent with state law. Later, the so-called “Hinchey-Rohrabacher Medical Marijuana Amendment” to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, prohibited the expenditure of federal funds to prosecute individuals whose marijuana-related activities are permitted under the relevant state law (an analogous amendment is included in the proposed 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act). There also have been signs that the federal government is considering reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 2 drug.

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