For years, federal and state governments have spent precious dollars and resources to fund the so-called war on drugs. For decades, marijuana was among those drugs widely targeted by the government's anti-drug efforts. In fact, the federal government still includes marijuana on its list of the most dangerous or Schedule I illegal drugs.
While the federal government's stance with regard to the use and legality of marijuana has not waivered, within the last decade, many states have taken steps to pass legislation sanctioning the legal use of the drug for medical purposes. In 2008, Michigan passed Proposal 1 which allows individuals with qualifying medical conditions to possess and use the drug. Additionally, the law affords medical marijuana licensees or their primary caregivers the right to grow up to 12 marijuana plants.
While states across the country continue to pass legislation to legalize both the medical and recreational use of the drug, to date there have been no steps to reform marijuana laws at the federal level. As a result, many states have struggled with how to rectify new more lenient state marijuana laws with outdated strict federal laws, and individual citizens who use the drug continue to fear prosecution at the federal level.
Concerns over seemingly conflicting state and federal marijuana laws may soon be quieted as members of the U.S. Congress are expected to vote on a measure that would effectively "prohibit the U.S. Department of Justice from going after medical-marijuana patients ... who are compliant with their state's laws."
Proponents of medical marijuana support the measure and believe that such action by Congress is long overdue. We'll continue to provide updates on this historic measure when Congress votes on the federal spending bill in which the provision is included.
Source: Mlive.com, "Medical marijuana advocates say lawmakers provide protection against federal prosecution," John Agar, Dec. 15, 2014