In the legislation passed over the weekend that will keep the U.S. government operating for another few months, the House had its cake and ate it with respect to marijuana. Slate's Josh Voorhees explains:
Among the myriad policy riders buried inside the 1,600-plus-page bill is one aimed at blocking the Washington, D.C., City Council from legalizing recreational marijuana, something voters in the district instructed them to do by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 last month.
That ban was inserted at the behest of a small band of anti-pot conservative hardliners led by Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, and ultimately neither the White House nor Democratic leaders were willing to make fighting it a priority.
But despite that symbolic victory, it’s a different pot-themed provision tucked deep inside the bill that offers a more accurate illustration of Washington’s evolving position on legal weed—the Capitol’s posture is quietly becoming much more supportive than the effort to block D.C.’s legalization effort might suggest.
That less-discussed provision stops the Justice Department from spending a dime to prosecute patients or medical marijuana dispensaries that are acting in accordance with state law but running afoul of federal ones. The policy change might not make for splashy headlines, but it promises to have a major impact on the medical marijuana movement around the nation.
In other words, medical marijuana is still illegal, but not really. Scott Adams scoffs at the inefficiency:
While I appreciate that the government is moving in the direction the citizens prefer, how much does it tell you about the effectiveness of our system that lawmakers couldn't change a law that nearly 100% of well-informed and honest (meaning not taking money from private prison lobbyists for example) folks prefer?
My point is not about weed. That fight is essentially over. We're just waiting for the referee to count to ten, although that might play out over several years. Full legalization for adults (in effect) is inevitable because the data will be so clear after a few states do their test runs.
My point is that if your government can't pass a law that has has nearly universal approval, do you really have a functioning government?
This is akin to the criminal adultery statutes that littered the states until 1991, when the state finally repealed it. This, after four half-hearted prosecutions in 1990 embarrassed the state.