House votes to stop DEA from going after medical marijuana

An amendment to a spending bill funding the Commerce & Justice departments for FY 2016 passed in the House Wednesday, 242-186, which would prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration from using public money to investigate states which have legalized medical marijuana. Under federal law, “cannabis” is still considered a “Schedule I” drug by the Controlled Substances Act (1970), which means that it “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment”, and “has a high potential for abuse.”

While the amendment vote was fairly partisan (only 67 Republicans voted for the measure), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) introduced the provision on the House floor, and made the following comments in debate with Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), who opposed it’s adoption.

“Our founding fathers didn’t want criminal justice to be handled by the federal government…This is a states’ rights issue. Our founding fathers didn’t want a police force that can bust down people’s doors.”

Another amendment to protect states from federal prosecution which have legalized marijuana for recreational use (currently Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska) failed to pass in a 206-222 vote.

Despite the attachment of a medical marijuana provision to the same bill last year, this year’s version of appropriations funding by the House of Representatives ($51 billion) may not survive a presidential veto, as the White House has stated that it “under-funds critical investments in research and development” for science programs conducted largely by NASA. Once a compromise can be reached on appropriate funding levels in those areas however, the marijuana amendment is expected to pass again despite resistance from social conservatives in the House and Senate, who worry that the U.S. is on a path to across-the-board legalization of the drug for recreational use.

Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. It can be prescribed for chronic pain related to nerve damage and muscle spasms, nausea and loss of appetite for chemotherapy patients, and seizures due to epilepsy.

 

[IB Times] [Huffington Post] [CNN]

 

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