RENO, Nev. – Last week, the Reno city council voted to lift a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, effectively nullifying the blanket federal prohibition on cannabis.

Nevada recognized medical marijuana as a legal means of treatment in November 2000. Last year, a bill was signed into law to authorize up to 66 more medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. This bill required local cities and municipalities to regulate these dispensaries by zoning, appearance, and land use. The city of Reno opted to prohibit dispensaries all together.

The council approved an ordinance lifting the moratorium on June 11 by a 4-1 vote.

The federal government prohibits marijuana for any use, but lacks any constitutional authority for the ban. Doubt this? As yourself why it required a constitutional amendment to institute a similar national ban on alcohol. But states and localities like Reno have pushed back against the ban, legalizing marijuana for medical use – or in the case of Washington and Colorado, recreational purposes as well. Authorizing locally what the feds attempt to prohibit nationally creates an effective nullification of unconstitutional federal prohibition on marijuana businesses. The federal law has essentially become unenforceable.

While the actions of leaders in one relatively small city in a single state may seem insignificant, each one adds to the wave of momentum, ultimately flowing over unwarranted federal power. What started has a movement in a single state (California) in the mid-90s has grown into a tidal wave that the feds can no longer effectively resist. Last week, Reno took its place within a much bigger picture. Each effort matters and each effort adds to the effect.


Mike Maharrey

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