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Last Word: When It Comes to the Feds, a First Step Is Just a Small Step Towards Legalization

File this under the category of Taking Your Victories Where You Find Them No Matter How Small They May Be.

As we reported here on CBE, Congress has passed a bill that allows for medical marijuana access for veterans. Although it’s not law just yet, many see it as the first step by the Feds towards a more sensible federal marijuana policy.

My take: Maybe that’s true, but color me skeptical.

The Motley Fool captured a little bit of the way I feel when they pointed out that, “This may not be the overwhelming victory that a majority of Americans would like to see — 84 percent want medical marijuana legalized nationally per a CBS News poll in April 2015 — but it’s an undeniable step in the right direction on Capitol Hill for the marijuana industry.”

Well, I agree that this isn’t exactly an overwhelming win if you are a cannabis supporter, and yes, it IS an undeniable step in the right direction, but really, when will the Feds actually step up and do something really significant on the cannabis front?

Your guess is as good as mine.

There’s no denying that the momentum for legal marijuana is heading the right way. After all, who would have ever predicted that Louisiana would join the ranks of the medical marijuana states? Having them join the parade is pretty shocking, to say the least.

But as The Motley Fool also points out, a small victory with the feds over medical marijuana doesn’t mean very much for anyone really trying to make a living off legal cannabis. They put it plainly:

While marking a step in the right direction for the marijuana movement, it’s not necessarily a victory for those hoping to profit off of marijuana’s expansion. As of now, most marijuana businesses remain very small in scale, with big businesses finding numerous obstacles to profitability standing in the way. …

Just because the Federal Government is changing its stance toward veteran access to medical marijuana, it doesn’t necessarily imply that Congress or President Obama plans to entertain the idea of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

As long as marijuana remains illicit federally, those same inherent disadvantages mentioned above — higher taxes and minimal banking service access — are going to remain firmly in place. Lawmakers have been pretty specific about wanting to see additional safety data on marijuana before passing judgment, and that’s simply a proposition that could take years to resolve.”

Well, that’s pretty clear isn’t it? Yes, having Congress authorize medical marijuana for vets is a first step, but like most first steps, it is just that — one step. And even though “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” as Chinese philosophy says, that still means there is a long road ahead after we take that first step.

So, take this action by the Feds in its proper context. Yes, it’s a nice thing to do, but don’t get too excited or take it for any more than it is — the first, tentative step on a Long and Winding Road that may eventually get us to a more sensible and pragmatic federal policy towards legal marijuana.


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