The fact that medical marijuana has been making huge strides cannot be questioned.
In the U.S., 28 states plus Washington, D.C., now allow it, accounting for 190 million people, or about 60% of the population.
The federal government passed a law strictly forbidding federal dollars from being used to infringe upon these state’s right to set their own policy.
And support is only increasing as people see the results medical marijuana can deliver. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 60% of Americans want to see medical marijuana legalized on the national level. A similar CBS poll in April 2017 put it at 61%. Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s approval rating is below 40%
However, that is hardly where the issue ends.
The law on the books needs to be renewed because it was thrown into an appropriations bill.
And then there is the issue of how state governments interpret how far their new laws can apply.
We’re now seeing huge progress in the long process of putting medical marijuana on the same level as all other prescription drugs, and it is just the start.
The push for federal tolerance of state laws on medical marijuana is coming from an unlikely place.
First off, it is coming from the Senate, which upends the normal system where the House introduces a bill and the Senate takes it up if it passes.
Second, it is coming from a diverse group of six Senators — Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Al Franken (D-MN), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — who just reintroduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act a couple weeks ago.
Don Young (R-AK) joined as a co-sponsor back in June as well.
The effect this law would have would be monumental. Virtually all of the business hurdles medical marijuana businesses face would be removed, including:
- Access to national banks and lenders
- Normal corporate income-tax deductions
- A flood of new data from government funding into medical research
- The ability to vet and certify products for safety through government agencies
The bill was introduced in 2015 but was just reintroduced. And this may very well be the year this bill passes.
After all, 28 states provide more than enough senators to pass the bill, and 60% of the population is hard to ignore in Congress.
Even if it doesn’t happen in 2017, all trends point to it happening in the next couple years. Support among citizens keeps rising higher and higher and cannot be ignored for much longer.
Then there are the issues that need to be worked out in front of a court.
Just yesterday we saw a major victory for patients who need medical marijuana to safely and adequately manage their conditions.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that companies cannot fire employees who have a prescription for medical marijuana simply because they use the drug, effectively ending the carte blanche ban in virtually all employment contracts.
The ruling overturned a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought in 2015 by a person with Crohn’s disease against an employer that fired her after one day on the job.
She said the local hiring manager told her it would not be a problem, but the company’s headquarters in California — another state that allows medical marijuana, it should be noted — thought differently.
Obviously, this will not affect provisions for driving, operating heavy machinery, and other important bans, but for an employee at a marketing firm with a chronic and painful condition, this is just common sense.
In the decision, Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants rejected the claim the company made regarding medical marijuana use exceeding the “reasonable accommodation” required by anti-discrimination laws.
Medical marijuana is in the midst of an unprecedented, unstoppable, and steady march to becoming integrated and accommodated in every branch of every level of the federal government system.
And as legislative branches and the courts move to put it on par with all other types of medication, we’re finally seeing patients who depend on medical marijuana receive the same guarantees and protections given to everyone else.
Make no mistake about it: 2017 and the following couple years will see many more stories like this. The medical marijuana industry is just getting started and it is going to make early investors a boatload of money.