By Gretchen Schuldt
The federal government's drug battle goes on.
From pushing new technology that differentiates legal hemp from increasingly legal marijuana to funding opioid treatment, the government is spending billions in an effort to control the use and supply of illegal drugs in the country. If the War on Drugs has been lost, the federal government hasn't surrendered.
There is a piece of good news. The bill prohibits the Justice Department from using its resources to prevent Wisconsin and other states "from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana."
In a move just a step or six behind the times, the new appropriation bill directs the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to make available to state and local law enforcement kits that can distinguish between hemp and marijuana so marijuana busts are easier for police agencies.
Marijuana is legal in 35 states.
Hemp, in general, is cannabis without the high. In Wisconsin, legal hemp must contain less than 0.3% of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Marijuana and hemp smell the same and look similar, leading to confusion and errors in arrests and prosecutions.
The appropriations measure, better known as the "Coronavirus Relief Bill," tells the DEA to work to "ensure state and local law enforcement have access to this field test technology so they can more efficiently conduct their drug interdiction efforts at the local level," according to a congressional summary.
The bill also directs the agency to make periodic reports to congressional committees on DEA's success in sharing the technology.
An earlier post on justice-related programs funded through the bill is here.
The bill also includes:
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