The Fed's Eyes Off Pot
Last week the U.S. Justice Department announced that it "would not prosecute people who use marijuana for medical purposes in states where it is legal," thereby allowing local and state officials to enforce their own laws surrounding medical marijuana. Several states, including New York and New Jersey, are leaning towards passing legislation that would allow for its medicinal use-- adding to the 13 states where such laws already exist.
Due to the current economic crisis, states can't help but see this new legal oversight as an added burden placed upon already stretched budgets. Officials are looking to ease the load, not add to it. This may result in states legalizing medical marijuana so that they can reap the tax revenue and funnel it towards things like health care reform. For states that have already reformed to the use of medical marijuana, like California, the next economically advantageous step would be to legalize it entirely. According to Peter J. Cohen, a doctor and lawyer teaching public health law at Georgetown University, "if federal prosecutors kept their distance, legalized marijuana would become a de facto reality." Reform is in the air--as one system adapts and changes, the others will hopefully follow suit.
"patient grown medical marijuana" by BodhiSativa Photography on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.