Congress Votes to End War on Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers
49 Republicans and 170 Democrats approve historic amendment intended to prevent the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration from raiding state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries
* Statement below from Dan Riffle of MPP, which has been lobbying in support of the measure since 2003 *
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress approved a measure Thursday (219-189) that will prevent the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. The legislation marks the first time in history that Congress has voted in favor of ending the federal government’s war on medical marijuana patients and providers. A record-high 49 Republicans voted in favor of the measure.
The amendment to H.R. 4660, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), prohibits the Department of Justice, including the DEA, from spending funds to prevent states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws. The amendment has been offered seven times since 2003. It received a then-record high 165 votes in 2007, which included 15 Republicans.
Statement from Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which has been lobbying in support of the measure since it was first introduced in 2003:
“Congress is officially pulling out of the war on medical marijuana patients and providers. Federal tax dollars will no longer be wasted arresting seriously ill medical marijuana patients and those who provide to them. This is a historic vote, and it’s yet another sign that our federal government is shifting toward a more sensible marijuana policy.
“This measure passed because it received more support from Republicans than ever before. It is refreshing to see conservatives in Congress sticking to their conservative principles when it comes to marijuana policy. Republicans increasingly recognize that marijuana prohibition is a failed Big Government program that infringes on states’ rights.
“It’s becoming clearer and clearer that marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered. Polls are consistently finding that a strong majority of Americans think marijuana should be legal, and an overwhelming majority support legal access to medical marijuana. It’s nice to see more members of Congress standing up for their constituents instead of standing in the way of reform.”