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19 May, 2009 10:01

Economic hope in dope?

The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to California’s medical marijuana laws, signaling that federal law will not intervene or make void state laws on its growth, distribution, and use.

The state that pioneered the legalization of marijuana in medicine in 1996 has been fighting a legal battle with the federal authorities ever since.

Under federal law, marijuana is an illegal drug. A lot of people thought that when the states were passing the new laws for medical marijuana use they could be made void.

The decision by the Supreme Court is huge, as they say they are not going to get involved in the way the states are making these laws. Already there are 13 states with medical marijuana laws, and other states will probably now pursue them, knowing that the Federal Government is not going to get in their way.

And also with the new Obama administration, they’ve promised they’re going to stop the raids on marijuana sellers, growers, and users, so this looks like a big day for marijuana advocates.

A pro-pot advocate in Washington, Aaron Houston, who is the Director of Government Relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, said marijuana is America’s largest cash crop. It is bigger than corn and wheat combined with a value of about $36 billion per year; and if marijuana wholesale is legalized, not just for medical purposes, the US would make between $14 and $40 billion from the drug.

“There are 13 US states that have legalized medical marijuana but there are about 100 million Americans using marijuana, and those people want to admit to government’s survey takers that they have used it,” Houston said.

“Clearly, when we have 100 million people saying they used it to government survey takers, it probably would stand to reason. But that number is actually higher because certain people just do not want to tell someone from the government that they have used marijuana, a kind of illegal substance,” he said.