Medical marijuana efforts soldier on without Congress’ help

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  On Thursday, August 1, Illinois Democratic Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation into law authorizing patients with a qualifying illness to legally possess and procure medical marijuana.

Illinois joins 19 other states and the District of Columbia in its acknowledgement that marijuana is safe and efficacious as a therapeutic agent.

Moreover, once the Illinois law is fully implemented it will be among the dozen states that explicitly license (or are in the act of licensing) the production and dispensing of medical marijuana – activity that is in open defiance of federal law that classifies marijuana as a Schedule I prohibited substance lacking any accepted therapeutic value. (Two states, Colorado and Washington, are also in the process of licensing the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis for non-medical purposes.)

Closer to Capitol Hill, regulators for the District of Columbia have begun allowing locally licensed dispensaries to engage in retail medical marijuana sales to authorized DC residents. Yet, inexplicably, most members of Congress continue to remain silent on this issue – even as medical cannabis is openly grown and distributed within blocks of the halls of Congress!

How much longer can the majority of Congress and the Obama administration maintain this ‘See no evil, hear no evil’ approach to the new political and regulatory reality taking place both inside and outside the Beltway? Only time will tell, but if the ongoing federal inaction is any indication, don’t expect sensible political leadership from Washington DC on this issue any time soon.