Congress Did Not Legalize Medical Marijuana

Contrary to what you may have heard, the federal ban has not been lifted.


"Federal Ban Lifted on Medical Marijuana," says the headline over an Inquisitr article that I came across last week. At first I dismissed it as one overenthusiastic reaction to a spending rider that Congress enacted this month, but it turns out this misconception is fairly common. In my latest column, I explain how it was born and why it's wrong:

Contrary to what you may have read or heard, Congress did not quietly lift the federal ban on medical marijuana. Nor did it lift the ban loudly. It did not lift the ban at all. Here is what actually happened.

A year ago, Congress approved an omnibus spending bill that included a rider prohibiting the Justice Department (which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration) from using funds appropriated by that bill to "prevent" states from "implementing" their medical marijuana laws. The same rider, sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), was included in the omnibus spending bill approved by Congress this month. That means it will remain in force for another fiscal year.

On both occasions, various news outlets exaggerated the impact of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, leading many medical marijuana supporters to mistakenly believe Congress had legalized it. Los Angeles Times reporter Evan Halper led the way last year with a story headlined "Congress Quietly Ends Federal Government's Ban on Medical Marijuana." Halper reported that the rider "effectively ends the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana" and "brings almost to a close two decades of tension between the states and Washington over medical use of marijuana." He said states that allow medical use of marijuana "no longer need to worry about federal drug agents raiding retail operations," because "agents would be prohibited from doing so." As I pointed out at the time, that was, at best, an overoptimistic take.

Read the whole thing.

NEXT: Friday Funnies: Happy New Year

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  1. I declare this Links 2016!

    1. *crickets*

    2. I have some links at the ready, but I’m still holding out in case an official AM Links appears.

  2. Well, okay then…

    Fight breaks out at New Jersey anti-violence demonstration

    NEWARK, N.J. (AP) ? An anti-violence demonstration in Newark, New Jersey, devolved into a physical altercation between two activists. reports ( ) the small crowd began arguing on the steps of Newark City Hall on Wednesday about the city’s attempts to curb violence.

    The demonstration was organized by two anti-violence groups.

    They say they wanted to urge Mayor Ras Baraka to put his “quality of life plan” into action to help address violence in the city. A group of Baraka supporters appeared and an argument ensued.

    At one point, one man put his hands around another’s neck and pushed him to the ground.

    1. “””Gentlemen, You can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!””” Oops I mean anti-violence demonstration

    2. Someone forgot not to schedule that on Opposite Day.

      1. Read between the lines more closely:

        The demonstration was organized by two anti-violence groups. They say they wanted to urge Mayor Ras Baraka to put his “quality of life plan” into action to help address violence in the city

        An anti-violence group stages a rally against the policies of a mayor.

        A group of Baraka supporters appeared

        A group of the mayor’s “supporters” (i.e. goons) were unleashed upon the crowd.

        an argument ensued

        When the passive voice appears, it’s not too hard to deduct what happened.

        So there you have it: “Man Bites Dog”! Ha, ha, ha! No need to think any further, citizen!

        1. What passive voice?

          1. Well, it’s more accurate to say mediopassive, but most grammarians of English subsume the mediopassive within the passive voice.

            1. Let’s put it this way, does the clause “A group of Baraka supporters ensued the argument” sound natural to you?

              1. I am MUCH more opposed to violence than YOU are, and I will fight you to the death to prove it!

                Holy Shiites, that sounds a Shiite-load like Islamofascist goat-fuckers, who will rape, murder, plunder, and destroy, to PROVE to everyone, that Islam is a religion of peace!

                REAL Peace be upon y’all, in 2016!

  3. Outrage as police fake terrorist attack for bizarre wedding proposal to man’s girlfriend

    This is quite possible the worst marriage proposal ever – and could cost the idiotic policeman and his pals their jobs.

    In this ridiculous footage a gang of riot police pull over a car at gun point.

    They drag a terrified woman out of the car and order her to stand with her hands behind her head and lean over the car bonnet.

    But instead of being a real terrorist attack, this was staged by a team of Russian riot police who clearly should have known better.

    As the bewildered woman is standing there by the side of the road, one of the cops races to the boot to grab a handful of helium balloons, while another bends down on one knee to pop the question.[…]

    Russian TV Channel REN TV confirmed the men were riot policemen and could be fired as their bosses did not approve their methods, despite the fact that they apparently used fake guns in the video.

    1. Subtle subtext: “Don’t you want a husband who an do…*this*?”

      1. Do you want to spurn a man who would do this?

  4. Man ‘dies’ after downing vodka with pals then wakes up in morgue and returns to party

    A man who ‘died’ after downing shots of vodka with friends was taken to the morgue before waking up in a freezer, reports claim.

    He had his “miraculous awakening” after partying too hard with pals, who then called an ambulance to the property in Khasanky, in Russia’s far east.

    When medics arrived, they declared the man dead and took him to the morgue.[…]

    He woke up in the freezer, before stumbling his way out of it towards shocked staff.[…]

    He then returned to the party, seeing his pals were still drinking – but this time in his memory,

    However, after letting the shocked friends know what happened, their commemoration drinks were transformed into a “re-birthday party”.

    1. And the friends were like “wait, you were gone?”

    2. Born Again, Russian style.

      1. Russia, also known as Florida East.

    3. Russian? Sounds more like Finnegan/Irish.

    4. In Russia, wake wakes you.

  5. Idaho man makes calendar showcasing back hair art

    NAMPA, Idaho, Dec. 31 (UPI) — An Idaho man decided to turn his excessive body hair into a form of artistic expression by shaving designs into his back hair and compiling them in a calendar.

    Tired of being ashamed of his back hair, Mike Wolfe, 35, decided to team up with his friend and former graphic designer Tyler Harding to turn his body hair into art by creating a “Calendhair”. The calendar features 12 photos of Wolfe sporting different back hair designs, each themed to match their respective month.

    1. Unless one of those months was designed in the shape of that Farrah poster I’m not interested.

  6. NFL, join NBA to fight gun violence

    (CNN)Americans have a thing for guns. The ubiquitous presence of guns is a big reason we use them so often. That’s why I applaud the NBA, a cultural juggernaut, for deciding to take a stance against gun violence.

    Now it’s time for the nation’s top sporting organization, the NFL, to stand alongside the NBA.[…]

    The NBA has teamed up with the gun safety advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety, founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The NBA has gotten some pushback, as expected, but it’s persevering.

    Professional basketball players are also frustrated with the gun violence epidemic. That’s why several players participated in the PSA, the brainchild of Spike Lee. He’s directing the series of messages and used his strong connections to make this happen. The first one is quite powerful.

    The ad isn’t offering a specific solution. Policy choices crowd the table, but we’ve got to sit down at that table together.

    1. ‘We don’t need to offer specific solutions. We’re celebrities. Our words are mightier than solutions’.

      1. “We must do something!

        “Now that we’re articulated our grand vision, I’ll leave the details to the experts.”

        1. Should be “I’ll leave details to the management and PR people who thought up this idea”

          1. Who says thinks, ‘hey, wow! Spike Lee is saying so it must be important’?

            I’d like to meet the sort of mind that does.

            1. It’s more of the sort of mind that thinks “What’s stuff that Black people like? Basketball, Football, umm…Spike Lee? Yeah, they like him, don’t they? Now we just need a ‘rap’ about ‘My name is Spike and I’m here to say/Shooting guns makes you gay!’ Wait, that’s homophobic isn’t it?”

              1. Yeah but can he pick up a babe at the bar?

            2. Relative to the actual quality of merit and his films, Spike Lee punches so far above his weight when it comes to cultural inportance and adulatiom that with a little less melanin we’d call him Michael Bay.

              1. Now that we are at the table, my first suggestion is to implement shall issue concealed carry in all 50 states. How bout it Spike?

    2. “The ad isn’t offering a specific solution. Policy choices crowd the table, but we’ve got to sit down at that table together.”

      Kevlar clothing for all.

    3. Professional basketball players are also frustrated with the gun violence epidemic.

      What does their armed security detail have to say about the issue?

    4. “Americans have a thing for guns. The ubiquitous presence of guns is a big reason we use them so often.”

      If your premises are wrong you won’t be able to solve real world problems.

      1. “That’s why ads like the NBA’s are so vital: We must reach across the broad demographics of all Americans.

        Having a gun around your home comes with risks: You use it against someone else, someone else uses it against you, or you use it against yourself. I can think of no home-based shooting I’ve treated where my patient or their family hadn’t purchased the gun for hunting or self-defense. While that’s the idea most of us have in mind when we purchase a gun, that plan probably didn’t work out if rehabilitation doctors like me are treating you.

        It’s more likely you’ll die by your own gun, or someone else’s gun in your household, than successfully defend yourself using that gun. States with higher gun ownership see more gun-enabled suicides and homicides.”

        Jesus Christ.

        1. This isn’t going to do shit but piss off gun owning NBA fans.

          Man, I miss the generation of celebrities who took their cues from Michael “Hey, Republicans buy sneakers too” Jordan.

        2. “I can think of no home-based shooting I’ve treated where my patient or their family hadn’t purchased the gun for hunting or self-defense.”

          Really? I would have thought that most of those people explicitly bought the gun to get shot by it, that’s why I usually buy guns.

          Also isn’t his, “I’m basing my opinion on people I’m treating for injuries, and my conclusion is guns always cause injuries” logic basically another way of saying “None of the people I’ve interviewed have died playing Russian Roulette, so it’s totally safe!”?

    5. CNN headline in the next couple of weeks:

      “Millions upon millions of criminals relinquish their firearms after hearing anti-gun-violence message from NBA”

      I’m pretty sure that will happen. Just like the massive decline in drug use after Nancy Reagan’s appearance on A Very Special Diff’rent Strokes.

    6. Carmelo Anthony issues plea for criminals’ safety after teammate was shot. “Please make sure their victims are completely defenseless. I don’t want criminals to face any risk for their illegal assaults.”

      Fuck the NBA for joining with the gun grabbers. They just revealed themselves, just like Colt did twenty years ago.

      1. Colt? Don’t you mean Smith & Wesson?

          1. Hmm…looks like that guy wasn’t CEO for long, which is probably why I hadn’t heard about it.

  7. This Day in History

    1863 – Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

    1908 – The ball signifying the New Year was dropped for the first time at Times Square in New York City.

    1914 – The world’s first airline, St. Petersburg Tampa Airboat Line, starts operation in St. Petersburg, Florida.

    1959 – Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries took over Cuba and toppled Fulgencio Batista’s regime.

    1975 – John Mitchell, H. R. Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman were convicted of obstruction of justice in the Watergate affair.

    1993 – Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

    1994 – The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect.

    2002 – Euro coins and notes went into circulation in twelve European nations.

  8. We wants the money , DraftKings

    “New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman filed an amended lawsuit against the two companies, this time asking for them to give back all the money they made in New York State, to give it back to those who lost money and to pay a fine of up to $5,000 per case.

    Restitution of funds had never been a part of Schneiderman’s previous case and could be a huge blow to both companies, who took in more than $200 million in entry fees in 2015 from at least 600,000 customers in the state.”

    1. Would the companies get a tax refund from all the taxes they paid on those profits?

    2. Will the state give back its lottery profits?

    3. Look, states are facing a budget crises just as tech has allowed a start up culture full of companies that… well, let’s just say they haven’t paid their fair share yet and need to understand the importance of working with local stakeholders.

      I mean, what else are they supposed to do to patch the hole? Cut spending?

  9. Forbes tells me I have to turn off AdBlock to read their article.

    Can’t Forbes just subsist on bags of gold handed them by its namesake?

    (I wonder the same thing about Reason and the Kochs)

    1. I don’t use AdBlock, i just don’t go back to a website where their ads are too annoying. There is plenty of stuff to see on the internet and I don’t need to look at any website that throws multiple ads at you to the point where its not worth seeing their website.

      I suspect that some of these companies have a backdoor to their sites which the company uses since if they went in the front door they would see how bad their ads screw up the web pages and fix it.

    2. I can read it and I’m using AdBlock on Chrome?

    3. I don’t have AdBlock. I clicked it and the notice came up again. I clicked it again and it went to the article. Maybe they can’t tell if you have AdBlock.

  10. When will the House of Representatives impeach the prosecutors and judges who violated this rider?

    For that matter, when will they impeach the DEA official who basically (through a slap on the wrist) allowed agents to hold a suspect several days without charge or trial, while he feared starvation?

    1. *continues to hold breath*

    2. The average person won’t starve in several days, unless several means up to about fifty or sixty.

  11. Hi ho! Your first controversy of 2016!

    It wasn’t quite the New Year some Cargill employees were looking for.

    But after being fired from their jobs at the Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Fort Morgan, about 200 Muslim employees who left work to protest the plant’s religious accommodations are still hoping to return.

    In December, many of the employees, most of whom are Somali, said managers had stopped allowing them to take the five-minute breaks for prayer that their religion requires.

    Cargill representatives denied this claim, but the employees said they would not return to work until the company agreed to allow them prayer time. The plant’s management and union representatives met with Somali leaders on Dec. 22, but they were not able to resolve the disagreement. A few employees returned to work the next day, but about 190 stayed away and were terminated based on the company’s three-day “no-call, no-show” policy.

    Mike Martin, director of communications for Cargill, said company policy is to let employees go to prayer one or two at a time throughout the day, to avoid slowing down operations.

    “While reasonable efforts are made to accommodate employees, accommodation is not guaranteed every day and is dependent on a number of factors that can, and do, change from day to day,” he said. “This has been clearly communicated to all employees.”

    1. I know about this shit.

      Their prayer time is never the same and always takes place at the worst possible time, shutting everything down. The times I have seen this it was very obvious that they do it on purpose.

      Fuck ’em. Let them go pray for a living.

      1. Their prayer time is never the same

        Well, yes. It’s based on the position of the sun, which if you’re not smack dab on the Equator…

        That doesn’t mean a business need to accommodate them anymore than they would have to accommodate the rigorous prayer scheduled of a Christian monastic. Piety requires sacrifice upon the part of the pious.

        1. “God made Arrakis Cargill to test the faithful”

    2. Cargill Meat Solutions

      Probably beef processing in Colorado, not pork.

      1. I assumed “meat solutions” meant the various brines they inject into meat to puff up the weight.

  12. “Congress did not legalize medical marijuana”

    Oh well, in that case, “Bogart that joint, Buddy.”

    1. “Interception!”


  13. Miss Virginia has an ancestor who fought in the Civil War and died in the siege of Petersburg.

    Which side he fought for may surprise you.

    1. Nice article and not surprising. Many northerners migrated south after the CW so lots of today’s southerners have ancestors on both sides. Nit pick: Major is not an ancestor of hers; no blood relationship apparently. I’d say “distant kin.”

    2. Let me guess: coming from you, he fought for the Catholics. :-p

      1. Well there were Irish Battalions

    3. The Reds? The Whites? I’m guessing they meant the Russian Civil War.

  14. In Florida’s “case of the ex-cop who shot a citizen and expected to get away with it like cops usually do, but let’s use it to argue against Stand Your Ground,” the killer’s wife belatedly decides not to snitch. She says she turned away (or closed her eyes, or something) so that she wouldn’t have to witness these traumatic events.


    “A witness who testified at Reeves’ bond hearing last year said that after the shooting, he heard Vivian Reeves, say aloud: “There was no cause to shoot anyone.”

    “Reeves cursed and told her to shut her mouth, according to the witness, Alan Hamilton, an off-duty Sumter County sheriff’s deputy who was in the audience that day. “Don’t say another word,” Reeves told her.

    “But in her deposition, Vivian Reeves offered a different and gentler version of their exchange.

    “”I either said, ‘You can’t shoot into a theater full of people,’ or I think I said, ‘You just shot into a theater full of people,’ ” she testified. “And Curtis said, ‘Not now.’ Like, we’re not going to discuss it now.””

    Oh, and the article says the day of the shooting was “the worst day of [the killer’s wife’s] life.”

    1. Meanwhile, ministers and community activists call for calm.

      “It would dishonor the victim’s memory to have any violence now,” said Episcopalian minister Eustace Tilley. “Let us channel our indignation into a candlelight vigil where the only violence will be from the totally unexpected actions of a few misguided youths.

      “I’m sure the defendant will be convicted without anyone committing violence in the streets, hint hint,” said Tilley. “Of course, if he’s acquitted I’ll do my best to restrain my people, but I can’t promise anything.”

      Wait, the victim was white? Screw him, then.


  15. Know what’s been making the news? People getting heart attacks after shoveling and snow blowing snow. We are now being warned about doing it too quickly.


    1. I blame Canada. Too much snow!

      Plus, Cytotoxic.

  16. In honor of the Feast of the Circumcision, let’s watch as a secular journalist tries to puzzle out the implications of Jesus being circumcised (and formally getting the name Jesus).

    “…According to Matthew Thiessen, an assistant professor of New Testament at Saint Louis University and the author of two books on circumcision in early Judaism and the New Testament, the purpose of the story is to demonstrate the enormous piety of Jesus’s family….

    “…Thiessen told me that the question of whether or not non-Jewish followers of Jesus should undergo circumcision “was the hot-button topic” among Jesus’s apostles….The position outlined in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, that gentile converts should not be circumcised, eventually won the day….

    “Ultimately, the point of the Gospel circumcision story is to emphasize the Jewish identity of Jesus, something that is lost in our celebrations….Putting the Christ back in Christmas should involved recognizing that Jesus was?from birth to death?a pious Jew.”


      2. I usually put together a meal of pork rinds, fry up some chicken and duck skin, and lightly smoke some salmon skins.

        It’s the Feast of the Four Skins.

    1. Ultimately, the point of the Gospel circumcision story is to emphasize the Jewish identity of Jesus, something that is lost in our celebrations….Putting the Christ back in Christmas should involved recognizing that Jesus was?from birth to death?a pious Jew.”

      No. The reason for the holy-day is to coopt another celebration under the auspices of the Catholic church.

    1. “Hello, I’m not a nice person.”

    2. “Prop comedian Carrot Top looks solemn while wearing a woman’s top.”

    3. My Mom used to be my Dad.

  17. Happy New Year!

    This year’s daily publication of the federal government’s rules, proposed rules and notices amounted to 81,611 pages as of Wednesday, higher than last year’s 77,687 pages and higher than the all-time high of 81,405 pages in 2010.

    When you figure how many bureaucrats there are in DC, 80-some thousand pages of new rules and regulations can’t be more than a few words per day per bureaucrat – I’m sure those lazy bastards could easily produce ten times more if they put their minds to it.

    1. Don’t let them take control of your orphans!

  18. Congress has no power to legalize medical marijuana, because they have no power to ban it in the first place. It took a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol, and that amendment was repealed. There is no remaining constitutional authority for the federal government to promulgate any kind of war on drugs.

    The mealy-mouthed sophistry of the government shysters on the supreme court in claiming that the commerce clause somehow allows the government to claim jurisdiction at will over anything that is bought and sold in this country (or not even sold, as in the cases of Wickard and Reich) are lying through their fucking teeth. If the commerce clause granted such powers, the rest of the constitution would be moot.


      1. Yeah, autocorrect struck again, and I can’t edit a post.


  19. An excellent piece here detailing what I’ve suspected for a while: the nation that the Silicon Valley tech world is a hotbed of libertarianism is a myth. The short version: they’re overwhelmingly left-liberals.

    I’ve seen this most clearly in the incredible disappointing reign of Jeff Bezos at the Washington Post. Not only is the the same kind of unrelenting left-wing shitrag it was before, it has arguably gotten even worse since he took it over.

  20. California effectively banned hover boards from most public places today. I can already see the Hit and Run post…

    Ed Kayewaki May 23, 2016 8:07 AM

    Police in El Segundo yesterday shot and killed 17 year old Bryce Johnson after he failed to dismount from his hoverboard in the downtown area. Johnson was hit twice in the barage of twenty rounds and died on Martin Luther King Jr Avenue forty five minutes later as police set up a perimeter to secure the scene. Police spokesperson Kenneth Stockman called the shooting justified under the circumstances. “Johnson was repeatedly told to dismount and failed to comply. Officers feared for their safety and took the appropriate response. Those things are not like Segways, the officers toes were clearly in danger of being crushed.”

    Also injured in the incident was Camila Vasquez, 36, who was passing by when hit in the shoulder by one of the rounds intended for Johnson….

    1. Heh, your post is like more proof of mine just before.

      You would think California of all places would love hoverboards. Not so much, apparently!

  21. It’s ok, emperor Obama is going to do it, cause he’s like the coolest emperor ever. He’s been meaning to do it all along, but mean old Republicans wouldn’t let him. He’s going to do it, any day now, just wait…

  22. Nevertheless, this amendment had far more impact than the one that says nothing in this act shall be interpreted to prevent kids from walking to school, or whatever it was.

    1. Portsmouth PD Useless

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