CONCORD, N.H. (Aug. 4, 2016) – On Tuesday, an expansion of the state’s medical marijuana law went into effect, further nullifying federal prohibition in practice.
Rep. David Luneau (I) introduced House Bill 1453 (HB1453) earlier this year. The legislation adds ulcerative colitis to the list of debilitating medical conditions that qualify a patient to access medicinal cannabis under the state’s medical marijuana law.
The New Hampshire House and Senate both passed HB1453 on a voice vote.
This is the second time the New Hampshire legislature has expanded the conditions eligible for treatment with medicinal cannabis.The state legalized marijuana for medical use in 2013. The first dispensaries opened in the state earlier this year. Allowing patients suffering from ulcerative colitis to access medical marijuana will further expand the medicinal cannabis program in New Hampshire.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program removes one layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition remains in place.
Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
While New Hampshire law does not alter federal law, it takes a step toward nullifying in effect the federal ban. FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By easing state prohibition, New Hampshire essentially sweeps away part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
New Hampshire is among a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition. Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and Alaska have all legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, and more than two-dozen states now allow cannabis for medical use. With nearly half the country legalizing marijuana, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more. The feds need state cooperation to fight the “drug war,” and that has rapidly evaporated in the last few years with state legalization, practically nullifying the ban.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
This proposal to expand the state’s medical marijuana law also demonstrates another important reality. Once a state puts laws in place legalizing marijuana, it tends to eventually expand. Once the state tears down some barriers, markets develop and demand expands. That creates pressure to further relax state law. HB1453 represents another step forward for patients seeking alternative treatments and a further erosion of unconstitutional federal marijuana prohibition.
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