Medical marijuana

An AP story on Jan. 3 reported that Rhode Island became the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana and the first since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that people who smoke medical marijuana can still be prosecuted under federal drug laws.

Earlier, on Dec. 29, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a review of federal and state policies on the subject as Congress debates whether to continue supporting the executive branch's pursuit, by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), of medical marijuana patients and providers. There are currently two bills in Congress. The States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act (HR 2087, pdf, 36KB, 4p., from GPO) would move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act and allow its medical use in states that have such programs. The Steve McWilliams Truth in Trials Act (HR 4272, pdf, 36KB, 4p., from GPO) provides an affirmative defense that medical use of marijuana is legal under state law. (The CRS report lists 11 states that allow medical marijuana, and this was prior to Rhode Island's legalization, but notes that one of them, Arizona, has no active program because its law provides for marijuana prescriptions and federal law prohibits doctors from prescribing marijuana; other states' laws allow doctors to recommend marijuana.) In 2000 Hawaii became the first state to legalize (H.R.S. [ยง329_121-128]) medical marijuana by legislation (Act 228, SLH 2000) rather than by ballot initiative.

Medical Marijuana: Review and Analysis of Federal and State Policies, CRS report, RL33211
(pdf, 220KB, 44p. from Open CRS)

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