Congress decided recently that the Drug Enforcement Administration and federal prosecutors should not go after medical marijuana organizations where they're legal under state law.
The House of Representatives voted May 29 in favor of an amendment that marijuana advocates say will end federal raids on dispensaries in California and other states. Under fear of federal prosecution, Arcata, Eureka and Humboldt County have had moratoriums on new dispensaries in place for several years now.
Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, praised the House's decision in a press release.
"In addition to ending all pending federal medical marijuana-related criminal prosecutions, advocates argue that current DOJ litigation against dispensary operators and their landlords, like that being waged in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, must end promptly. Tonight's vote could also have a positive impact on defendants currently serving mandatory minimum sentences of up to 10 years in prison."
"Could have" is the key phrase there. The amendment is part of a bill that still needs Senate approval and a signature from President Obama, who has already said he will veto the bill based on other flaws that have to do with appropriating federal funding, according to North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman. "The underlying bill it's attached to has to improve," said Huffman, who voted in favor of the amendment.
Still, he called the vote a watershed moment for the nation's marijuana policy. "We're moving rapidly toward something that's much more coherent and more in sync with states' rights," he said. "It just makes no sense to have this dysfunctional federal criminalization overlay."
The bill garnered support from 49 Republicans — a party traditionally averse to lightening of the nation's drug laws. In a story titled "Why Republicans are slowly embracing marijuana," LA Times reporter Evan Halper writes that more than half of the nation's population now lives in states where medical marijuana is legalized and that posing medical marijuana as a states' rights issue is swinging Republican acceptance of marijuana into favor.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who co-sponsored the bill, was quoted in the Huffington Post as saying, "The heart and soul of the Republican party is that pro-freedom, individual philosophy that Reagan talked about."
With increasing bipartisan support nationally, Huffman said California now needs has to clean up its medical marijuana laws. "Right now the medical marijuana policy framework is a mess," he said. "Hopefully now with this movement on the federal level they'll have a little impetus to step it up."
We'll see. A medical marijuana bill sponsored by San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano failed to pass the state Assembly just last week.
In the week's "they-still-exist?" news, a feud has apparently broken out between members of rap-butt-rock band and KSLG once-darlings Linkin Park and whatever-remains-of-So-Cal gutter-reggae band Sublime. Apparently, while Sublime took the stage at an Arizona festival recently, one of Linkin Park's security guards allegedly reported a weed stash to the county sheriff's office, which raided Sublime's dressing room and confiscated the bud. Linkin Park denied being involved on Twitter, leading to an exchange between the bands' members that included the epithet "Linkin Nark" (which, OK, that's pretty good). TMZ and industry rag Metal Injection report that the Linkin Park employee reported the weed to cops because one of the band's members is allergic to smoke. The Linksters reportedly offered to replace the stuff.