What’s the future of cannabis in America? If you had posed this question prior to the 2016 election, you might have come up with a different answer. Prior to the election, many states had legislation pending to legalize marijuana. Citizens and lawmakers alike see the legalization of marijuana as a win. Sections of the medical community see cannabis as a cure-all for dozens of ailments. The Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports breakthrough research in appetite stimulation and “significant analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anxiolytic activity.” However, cannabis is still an illegal substance. States that have passed laws making marijuana legal have done so despite the fact that federal regulations still classify it as a Schedule I drug. That means the federal government looks at marijuana the same way it looks at heroin or ecstasy.
Colorado and Washington reported $200 million and $256 million respectively in tax revenues from 2016 according to a report by the LA Times. Money often changes how things are evaluated. There are 17 other states looking to make marijuana legal for recreational use. However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that marijuana is dangerous. He implied that federal agencies could come after marijuana users even in states where it’s legal to smoke. No one is sure where the Trump administration stands on marijuana. But even in states where CBD, one of the compounds of cannabis, is legal, it may be lumped with recreational marijuana.
Despite research that shows that CBD, and even marijuana, can be effective in treating chronic pain, nausea, and discomfort from chemotherapy, cannabis is still a federal illegal substance. Fortunately, the Justice Department is prohibited from going after state medical cannabis dispensaries. That law was passed in 2014 and remains in place to date. It is unclear where President Trump stands on the issue. The Obama administration essentially did nothing against medical marijuana. The former president preferred to leave marijuana legislation to the states. President Trump has commented that he believes it should be left to the states as well. However, this is in contrast to statements made by Attorney General Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. It remains to be seen what impact a Trump administration will have on state dispensaries.
States with legalized recreational and medical marijuana are asking the federal government to make it easier for dispensaries to do business. Since marijuana is an illegal substance, banks are prohibited from taking deposits. So while your local dispensary is helping patients alleviate certain symptoms, the employees work in fear. An all cash business is not the ideal way to promote health and well-being. While CBD is legal in most U.S. states and Canada, the legal issues associated with dispensaries could have a backlash that impacts that compound as well. As more states join the fray, it is likely that the federal government will pass legislation making it easier to do business. It is uncertain if cannabis will be removed from the federal schedule of illegal drugs.
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