Medical marijuana advocates in California are cheering an amendment included in the federal spending bill. But the measure still leaves room for uncertainty.
The amendment prohibits the U.S. Department of Justice from using federal money to interfere with states’ medical marijuana laws. Advocates say that means federal prosecutions and raids of regulated dispensaries should stop.
Alex Kreit is an Associate Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. He says the Department of Justice might not agree with that assessment and it could take a court case to bring a determination. Still, he says the political tide is clearly changing.
"There are enough states with medical marijuana laws and we’ve seen this play out for enough of a period of time, we know they’re not going away anytime soon," he says. "And for the federal government to carry on with the status quo that says there’s no legal use for this, it’s just not workable."
Kreit notes the spending bill is only temporary and so the amendment is not a permanent law. And he says California may also be treated differently because it relies on local laws rather than a strong state law to regulate the industry.