This August is special for medical marijuana users in Illinois because Democratic Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation authorizing patients with a qualifying illness to legally possess and use medical marijuana. Illinois brings the total of states with a medical marijuana policy to 19 including the District of Columbia.
According to local government officials,after the Illinois law is fully implemented it will be one of a dozen states that license the production and dispensing of medical marijuana. This is in open defiance of the federal laws that state that marijuana is a prohibited substance. The federal government continues to fly in the face of study after study that shows that marijuana has therapeutic value. Illinois recreational users are hoping that Illinois will now join the efforts of Colorado and Washington who are currently setting into motion the process of licensing the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis for non-medical purposes.
Laws and regulations governing the use of marijuana is also being dealt with in the country’s capital as regulators for the District of Columbia have begun allowing locally licensed dispensaries to engage in retail medical marijuana sales to authorized DC residents. For the newly open medical marijuana industry this has been a trial and error process both in terms of deciding exactly how to proceed and in how they deal with the federal government.
Despite Washington DC moving forward with marijuana dispensaries, most members of Congress are remaining quiet on this issue at large. Many are asking, how much longer the majority of Congress and the Obama administration canremainjust outside the discussion. Currently they appear to have adopted a wait and see attitude although they do continue to attempt to shut down dispensaries on a regular basis.
Currently there is legislation in the US House of Representatives to prohibit federal officials from prosecuting state-compliant medical cannabis patients and their providers. Although this does not protect recreational users in both Washington and Colorado states, many believe that House Bill 689, the State’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act could go a long way in protected medical marijuana users, however it remains stalled in committee and only has 20 sponsors which is less than 4% of the House.
In March 2013 a nationwide scientific poll reported that nine out of ten Americans believe that marijuana should be legal if a physician authorizes it. This is an indicator of a massive change in the thought pattern behind marijuana use. Many are asking why Congressional members aren’t being more supportive if it is the will of the very people they serve. Many believe that members won’t be able to stay out of the fray much longer.
Congress is not the only problem of the medical marijuana community. The Drug Enforcement Administration recently rejected an administrative petition that asked that the agency reconsider the illegal substance label. According to the DEA website, in January, “the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the DEA’s decision to summarily deny any further inquiry into the issue”.
This supported the DEA’s presumption that the only entity qualified to make determinations regarding the plant’s therapeutic qualities was the DEA itself which, considering they are not a scientific community is considered ridiculous by many. This laughs in the faces of tens of thousands of physicians who recommend medical marijuana to patients as a medicine to deal with ongoing pain.