The U.S. Senate today passed historic legislation to end the decade-long ban on implementing a medical marijuana law in Washington, D.C. This marks the first time in history Congress has changed a marijuana law for the better. Only Obama’s signature is needed for the change to become law.
This is not only a huge victory for medical marijuana patients in the nation’s capital, it marks a historic shift on the medical marijuana issue nationwide. This is the first time Congress has given its assent to a state or local law that permits medical use of marijuana. Coming on top of the announcement that the Justice Department will no longer interfere with state medical marijuana laws, this shows that the ground has fundamentally shifted.
Before the D.C. law can go into effect, the city council will need to transmit the original 1998 initiative to Congress for a 30-day review period, which is not expected to present an obstacle. The law will take effect at the conclusion of this review, and the D.C. government will then be charged with creating regulations to govern the implementation of the initiative’s language.
It seems that Congress is finally listening to voters, who have supported protection for medical marijuana patients for well over a decade, as well as to the medical community’s growing recognition of marijuana’s medical value. Lifting the ban on D.C.’s law falls far short of sweeping, national reform, but it is surely a sign of good things to come.