Federal Budget Forbids Spending to Oppose Medical Marijuana, but Congress Considers Overruling D.C. Vote to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
For advocates of decriminalizing marijuana use, Congress has both giveth and taketh away.
Contained in the same mammoth budget bill are provisions that would help the medical marijuana movement and halt one jurisdiction’s popular effort to legalize recreational use of the drug.
On page 213 (pdf) of the spending plan, there is language barring the U.S. Department of Justice from taking actions against states that have approved marijuana for medicinal use. This prohibition would apply to operations by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“[N]one of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used... to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana,” the provision states.
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) introduced the language in the House’s version of the budget bill. Among its backers is the Credit Union National Association, which could see new customers if pot dealers were able to use the banking system instead of dealing in cash.
Michael Collins, a lobbyist for the Drug Policy Alliance, told Vice that if the provision is adopted into law, it would represent “an absolute game changer” for the medical marijuana movement.
But the news is not all good from the halls of Congress. One House member, Republican Andy Harris of Maryland, wants to prohibit the District of Columbia from implementing its new law legalizing recreational medical marijuana. D.C. voters just approved the plan last month with 70% supporting it.
Harris says the law is a bad idea because it will lead to more drug use by teens.
But Attn.com says Harris’ motivation may have less to do helping kids and more with making his biggest contributors happy. The GOP lawmaker has raked in more than $300,000 in support from pharmaceutical companies—an industry that doesn’t like competition from marijuana and its ability to help those suffering from pain or side effects associated with chemotherapy.
To Learn More:
Congress Is About to Block the Feds from Cracking Down on Medical Marijuana (by Timothy Burger, Vice)
Amendment to HR 83 (Government Printing Office) (pdf)
House of Representatives Votes to Stop Obama Administration from Raiding State-Approved Medical Marijuana Facilities (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)
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