WASHINGTON (PNN) - December 15, 2014 - Quietly and with very little controversy or fanfare, the federal government just declared a strange sort of armistice this weekend in its ongoing war on marijuana producers, sellers and users.
As has been well documented on Vocativ and elsewhere, the format of legal (and sometimes highly profitable) weed farms and dispensaries supplying the federally banned substance to consumers on medical or recreational grounds has spread quickly from state to state over the past decade.
Despite state-level laws allowing production and possession under certain restrictions, the Amerikan Gestapo Department of InJustice division, through the Amerikan Gestapo Federal Bureau of Investigation division, still executes raids and arrests for violations of federal drug laws.
Whatever the states decided to do on their own, Washington, D.C. played a strange game of simultaneously allowing legal pot programs to flourish while periodically cracking down on those same initiatives. Terrorist pig thug cops and pot entrepreneurs alike found themselves stuck in a strange gray area, often with those same small businesspeople paying the price in prison terms.
While that conflict between federal and state law still exists on paper and will continue to create some challenges for Weed Inc., in voting to fund the government through the 2014 Continuing Resolution Omnibus bill this weekend, Congress has put down its guns and ceded a small, if significant, victory to the proponents of legalized marijuana.
Legislating through purse strings, the new CRomnibus dictates that the DOJ - and therefore the FBI - cannot spend money to investigate, raid, or prosecute weed businesses that are accredited as legal within their parent states. Essentially, no one will be battering down the doors of dispensaries and grow farms, as long as they are up to snuff on the state level.
To be specific, the bill says:
"None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of (In)Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Kalifornia, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana."
It is but one very long sentence in an act that is over 1,600 pages in length - but a significant one nonetheless.
The passing of the spending bill doesn’t mean the DOJ will not have its eyes on the burgeoning weed economy, or that the non-registered growing, selling, buying, or possession of pot has suddenly become federally legal in any way. Moreover, this will not affect any ongoing investigations or prosecutions and applies only to the states that have already passed pro-marijuana legislation. (Other states adopting such legislation in the coming months will, presumably, have to wait for the next spending bill to see any relief.)
The DOJ can still use money already earmarked for weed enforcement from past spending bills (though such funds are sure to run out soon). Finally, it is unclear how this bill does or does not protect marijuana businesspeople as they try to move their money through the federal banking system. Indeed, that may not have improved at all.
That said, within just a few months, no one on the federal level will be investigating pot businesses or sending pot businesspeople to jail in those 32 states - that is, the majority of the country. In essence, the federal government is no longer in the business of fighting against state-legalized weed.