The U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment Wednesday that prevents the federal government from interfering in state medical marijuana laws. The amendment, authored by two California Congressmen, was authored following a letter that two elected officials (Republican Dana Rohrabacher and Democrat Sam Farr) wrote to the Justice Department last month. (Here’s the National Pain Report story on that letter).
For chronic pain patients, many of whom use medical marijuana, the passage of this amendment may be seen as good news.
“People with chronic pain whose doctors recommend medical marijuana should be able to obtain it legally and safely, and their providers shouldn’t have to live in fear of being arrested by federal agents,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project told the National Pain Report. “They won’t have to if this amendment is codified into law again, which I expect it will be based on the overwhelming support in this vote.”
The amendment prohibits the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to interfere in the implementation of laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.
“Votes in support of rolling back the federal government’s war on medical marijuana are beginning to become routine. Last year, passing this amendment was unprecedented. This year, it was predictable. Medical marijuana has gone from ‘controversial’ to ‘conventional’ on Capitol Hill,” Riffle said in a statement his office released.
23 states and the District of Columbia have approved marijuana for medical use.
In a related vote last month (May 24), the U.S. Senate approved an amendment that allows Veteran Administration (VA) doctors to be able to discuss and recommend medical marijuana to a VA patient in states where medical marijuana is legal. It is currently prohibited by the VA, although it is ok for other federal health care patients, including Medicare patients. (Here’s our story)
In another vote, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly defeated a measure 206-222 on Wednesday that was intended to prevent the federal government from interfering with state laws regulating marijuana for all purposes, including adult use.
The amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) to the House version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, would have prohibited the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana.
Riffle released a comment following that vote:
“Most Americans think marijuana should be legal for adults. With more and more states adopting their own marijuana policies, the tension between state and federal laws needs to be addressed. Just about every candidate for president has said states should be free to determine their own marijuana policies. It is time for Congress to get serious about addressing this problem and repeal federal prohibition so that states can regulate marijuana as they see fit.”