House of Representatives Votes to Stop Obama Administration from Raiding State-Approved Medical Marijuana Facilities
The House of Representatives on Friday took a small step toward accepting medical use of marijuana when a bipartisan vote approved an amendment that would stop federal enforcement of laws forbidding the drug’s therapeutic use in states where it’s currently legal.
The amendment, championed by California congressmen Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, and Democrat Sam Farr, passed by a 219-189 margin. Those voting yes included 170 Democrats and 49 Republicans. To become law, it would have to survive the Senate and then get President Barack Obama’s signature.
Despite the bipartisan nature of the amendment, there were those strongly opposed to its passage, in particular Republicans John Fleming of Louisiana and Andy Harris of Maryland, who is a doctor. “This would be like me as a physician saying, ‘I think you need penicillin. Go chew on some mold,’” Harris said, according to Buzzfeed. In response to a proposed amendment from Fleming, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee) said, “We saw ‘reefer madness’ in the ’30s, and it has come back to Congress here 80-some-odd years later. Marijuana does not make people commit crime. It makes them overeat.”
The vote is seen as a defeat for Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) chief Michele Leonhart. “DEA Administrator Leonhart is virtually the only person left who still zealously supports the failed war on drugs,” Drug Policy Alliance Director of National Affairs Bill Piper said in a press release. “These votes are her wake up call. It is time for her to go.”
Farr said the vote shows Congress is ready to get in step with the majority of states that have approved some uses for marijuana. “But while momentum is on our side, there is still work to be done to get this bill out of the Senate. In the meantime, the federal government can continue to prosecute medical marijuana patients. This is more than just a waste of taxpayer dollars; it needlessly destroys lives and tears families apart. The majority of states and now the House of Representatives have clearly stated this absurd policy needs to stop. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to pass this amendment and remove the burden weighing down on so many patients in our country.”
As the amendment is written, it would apply only to 32 states and the District of Columbia, which are listed in the bill, that currently allow use of medical marijuana or are about to approve its use. So if another state were to legalize medical pot, it wouldn’t be included.
To Learn More:
Inside the U.S. House’s Historic Vote on Medical Marijuana (by April M. Short, AlterNet)
The House Just Voted To Protect Medical Marijuana Patients From Federal Interference (by German Lopez, Vox)
The House Just Voted To Rein In Crackdowns On Medical Marijuana (by Nicole Flatow, Think Progress)
House Votes To End DEA Raids On Legal Medical Marijuana Operations (by Jacob Fischler, Buzzfeed)
Obama Intensifies War against Marijuana . . . The Matthew Davies Case (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Ken Broder, AllGov)
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