According to this heavily criticized, and likely misinformed article from the Santa Monica Observer, an unnamed source in the DEA is claiming that marijuana will be legalized at the federal level, for medical purposes, on August 1st, 2016.
I say misinformed because there is only one unnamed source and as of yet, there is no confirmation from anyone, anywhere. I also find it hard to believe the DEA is just going to lie down and take this. There’s just too much money involved in locking up and pursuing marijuana users and dealers.
However, I wouldn’t say this is completely out of the realm of possibility. The tide is turning in the War on Drugs. Marijuana is now legal in some form in 25 states, and that number is only going up. More and more states are legalizing recreational use as well. From the point of view of the federal government, this is terrible. Even with it still illegal at the federal level, it’s unpopular to go into these states and round up people like they used to. Plus all these new industries centered around growing, cultivating, and selling marijuana are popping up everywhere and they’re largely free from federal regulations.
If I’m in the federal government, and I want to slow down this tidal wave of legal marijuana and this new wave of small, local businesses that service this industry but can’t and won’t spend millions lobbying me, what do I do? I let the people have a little bit of extra freedom, while at the same time I take total control of the industry.
What would legal medical marijuana look like?
First of all, you will need a prescription to get your medical marijuana, just like any other drug. Today in the states where medical marijuana is legal, you apply for a card that allows you to legally buy, hold, and grow a certain amount of marijuana. It’s a fairly easy and affordable process. Very few people are rejected.
Those days will be gone. With the federal government looking over every doctor’s shoulder, expect more raids like this one on a doctor’s office for issuing too many pain relievers. Doctors will become increasingly frightened to issue prescriptions. This means people who now get legal medical marijuana will find it harder to acquire legally in the future with new federal standards.
The great news is that people who truly need marijuana for medical purposes will be able to get it. The bad news is less people will be able to get it overall, and more doctors will be thrown in jail, fined, or have their licenses revoked.
Second of all, only big pharmacies will be able to manufacture and sell marijuana. Just like pain pills, only pharmacies will be allowed to sell medical marijuana, and only big companies with huge lobbying budgets will be able to produce it. This puts the entire local medical marijuana industries out of business. It also means smoking marijuana will probably stay illegal. Big pharmacy companies will stick to edible marijuana and other forms of ingesting it, but not smoking. Smoking is still dangerous and scary. Not to mention big tobacco wouldn’t want more competition in that department. We’re already seeing what they’re doing to the vape industry.
The rumor may not be true, but this is coming eventually. The federal government has lost their war on drugs. At some point they have to change their approach. Part of me would be happy with this since it is the step in the right direction. Part of me doesn’t like this because it would be a step toward government and lobbyist domination of the industry. This may even stop or reverse the trend of states legalizing recreational marijuana use.
The people will win back a tiny bit of freedom, but the federal government is the big winner here. The federal government gets to look compassionate toward sick people, they get to rake in piles of cash from pharmacy lobbies, and they still get to lock up and pursue non-violent, recreational marijuana users. They get to have their cake and eat it too. Worst of all, the pharmacy lobbies will never let recreational use become legal. Our only hope is that the people still continue their fight at the state level to end the drug war one state at a time.
This article was originally published on Mike’s website Leavelheaded Libertarian