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23 December, 2015

Did the US Congress just lift the ban on medical marijuana?

Last Friday, the U.S. congress approved a measure that prevents the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending money to interfere with state laws on medical marijuana. The move has been heralded as tantamount to essentially lifting the federal ban on medical marijuana and a major blow to the war on drugs.

The measure lets states implement their own medical marijuana policy without the fear of federal interference. And this is big news, considering that the majority of U.S. citizens now live in states where medical marijuana is legal.

I think it is a step in the right direction and it shows the willingness to respect the will of the people,” Amanda Reiman, manager of Marijuana Law and Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance, told teleSUR English.

The provision was approved as part of the massive 1,603-page US$1.1 trillion spending bill for 2016—the amendment had been passed temporarily in 2015, but its approval in the 2016 spending bill locked it into law—and it comes as national views on cannabis and mass incarceration have shifted in recent years. More lawmakers are now open to rolling back strict federal drug policy, which still holds that marijuana is more dangerous than cocaine.

Still, drug reform activists worry that federal opposition to medical marijuana will nonetheless continue and say several battles have yet to be won.

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