Since Pennsylvania passed Act 16, the state medicinal cannabis program has been in the news with regularity.
On the one hand, the coverage has been a plus in terms of raising awareness and ‘normalizing’ the idea of marijuana as medicine. It has opened the door to frank discussion.
On the other hand, the victory in getting Act 16 passed seems to have lulled the public into the idea that marijuana is legal– that the work of legalization is done.
This is of course not the case at all.
Marijuana remains on the Federal Schedule 1 list (meaning it has no medical benefits and a high potential for abuse), despite the overwhelming body of evidence showing it does in fact have medicinal efficacy.
The conflicting positions of the Federal government and States where it is legal in some form– either medicinal or recreational– has opened a proverbial legal can of worms.
The are still many questions that have no clear answers.
Questions like, how does having a medical marijuana card impact an individual’s rights? For example, does having a medical marijuana card affect gun ownership? How does it affect the right to privacy regarding medical records? What is the role of the IRS and tax laws regarding profits and/or income from a Schedule 1 substance being deposited in banks?
What about potential criminal penalties when taking medicine into a State that does not have a medicinal cannabis law on the books?
How about DUI laws and medicinal cannabis, or possessing an otherwise legal medication on Federal property?
Will health insurance cover treatment in the future? Will companies continue to drug test employees for marijuana in States where it legal for recreational use?
And the big question, what is the position of the Federal government on all this?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been ambiguous when asked whether or not the Justice Department will work to curtail the legalization process or respect the will of the people.
Of course, actions speak louder than words and so far, the AG is quietly pushing an agenda that appears unfriendly to the legalization movement. His is a process of incrementalism, which includes what could be called, ‘vaguely stated, thinly veiled threats’ to roll back the progress legalization has made.
During the Presidential campaign, Sessions’ boss, President Trump, was quoted as saying he would not interfere with the legalization process, but has since been silent on the subject.
Sessions was in Pittsburgh about a week ago, speaking at the Federal courthouse downtown. Pittsburgh NORML and other groups gathered to protest the AG, but to be candid, the turnout was exceptionally small.
A large turnout would have made a strong statement to the AG, which is why we’re concerned that people may think our work is done.
With an Attorney General in office who is openly hostile to marijuana law reform, it is more important than ever for people to make their voices heard.
Call your representatives. Let them know it’s time for a change at the Federal level. Marijuana should be rescheduled.