At 12:22 a.m. Friday morning, the United States House of Representatives approved an amendment intended to stop federal agencies from interfering with states whose laws “authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
The amendment would still need to pass the Senate to go into effect, but if passed, it would prohibit the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending taxpayer money on activities designed to stop the use of medical marijuana in states in which such use is legal.
Prior to the vote, Grover Norquist and Ethan Nadelmann published an editorial at The Daily Caller urging Republicans — who have stopped similar amendments from passing six times since 2003 — to support the amendment. “Whatever one thinks of marijuana generally, or medical marijuana specifically, it is the will of the people in 27 states, and plain common sense, to let states make their own decisions on this matter,” they wrote.
The 219-189 vote included a record-high 49 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.
Dan Riffle, the director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), said in a statement that “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.”
As to the new-found support among Republicans, Riffle added that “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.”
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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