U.S. House Votes To Drop Enforcement of Federal Laws in Medical Marijuana Cases

May 31, 2014 9:00 am

by Jon Richards · 7 comments

The U.S. House voted 219-189 early Friday morning to deny the Justice Department funds that would be used to enforce federal marijuana laws if they prevented a state from implementing its own law permitting the use of medical marijuana. The vote was on an amendment to the bill funding the operation of the Justice Department for fiscal 2015, and was sponsored by GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California and cosponsored by Dr. Paul Broun of Georgia.

According to the Huffington Post, the bill was promoted as a states rights issue by its sponsors:

Rohrabacher said on the House floor that the amendment “should be a no-brainer” for conservatives who support states’ rights and argued passionately against allowing the federal government to interfere with a doctor-patient relationship.

Broun said there were “very valid medical reasons” to use marijuana extracts or products. “It’s less dangerous than some narcotics that doctors prescribe all over this country,” Broun said. He said medical marijuana was a states’ rights issue and Congress needed to “reserve the states’ powers under the Constitution.”

The Georgia delegation cast a split vote on the measure, with seven voting in favor, six against and one not voting. Voting in favor were Democrats Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson and David Scott, and Republicans Paul Broun, Tom Graves, Lynn Westmoreland and Rob Woodall. Democrat John Barrow opposed the measure, along with Republicans Doug Collins, Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston, Tom Price and Austin Scott. Democrat John Lewis did not vote. Overall, 49 Republicans and 170 Democrats voted for the amendment.

In the 2014 Georgia legislative session, the House passed a bill sponsored by GOP Rep. Allen Peake of Macon providing for the use of non-psychoactive cannabidiol oil in the treatment of seizures in children. The bill failed to win passage in the Senate, and later, Governor Deal announced pilot projects to allow experimental trials of cannabis oil in treating seizures.

The Rohrabacher amendment would sanction the use of medical marijuana beyond the use of CBD oil for the treatment of seizures. Indeed, it appears some consider the measure as a gateway to eventual legalization of recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is legal in 22 states and the District of Columbia, while the use of CBD oil is permitted in five others. The amendment specifically names those states as exempt from Justice Department enforcement of current law.

The Senate is expected to pass its own appropriations bill funding the Justice and other related departments. The medical marijuana amendment would have to pass in that body as well before becoming law.

xdog May 31, 2014 at 9:19 am

A very odd result. An amendment sponsored by far right gopers like Broun and Rohrabacher (as well as Stockman, Amash, and left-leaning donk Barbara Lee) passes with overwhelming donk support, while most gopers say no. That’s an alliance that won’t be repeated soon. gopers no doubt worried about legalizing recreational weed usage down the road but I wonder if there are other political reasons that would explain the vote break-down.

Will Durant May 31, 2014 at 1:06 pm

I would think at least one other political reason would be that its passage has the potential to force the DEA to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I narcotics. This should have been done long ago.

seenbetrdayz May 31, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Actually, they work together more than media gives them credit for on civil liberty issues. Its just any time you turn on mainstream news, or peach pundit, apparently, all you ever hear is people quoting Broun’s “lies from the pit of hell.” Too much attention on gaffes and not enough on substance. So we’ll probably get people to replace them who never say anything for fear of being ridiculed and certainly won’t ever vote for anything to reduce the scope of the federal government.

You might be surprised to know that TP’ers will readily work together with D’s on things like the NSA spying, and indefinite detention. —That is, when the D’s remember they’re supposed to be against those things. Obama clearly has forgotten, but it is nice to know that democrats in congress remember their campaign promises from time to time.

And if you think this bill was a shocker, take a look at Dr. Broun (R) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D, no like, really D, I’m talking brain-baked-in-the-California-sun, Democrat) co-authoring a bill to curtail the president’s ability to make war unilaterally. Of course, the MIC will never let this one see the light of day:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-barbara-lee/end-the-blank-check-for-w_b_5353038.html

Doug Deal May 31, 2014 at 10:28 am

This is a microcosm of what is wrong with the Republican party on the national level. The party gives lip service to less intrusive, smaller government except when they want to expand it. Is Jack Kingston a small government conservative, or just another one of those guys who go to Washington and work to solve all of your personal problems and actually causes you harm because he thinks you will use something in a way he opposes?

The fact is that if Jack Kingston had a family member or wealthy financial backer who needed this, he would jump to the front of the line in support of it. I thank Paul Broun, Tom Graves, Lynn Westmoreland and Rob Woodall for actually voting like small government conservatives and letting states set their own policies in this matter.

Rick Day May 31, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Thanks for posting this. I wanted to take this moment to thank those of the GA delegation, especially Dr Broun, for their support on this issue.

We in the reform camp see this as a major push of the Federal bounder downhill as momentum gains in our effort to end the war on american consumers of cannabis, and hemp.

Three Jack May 31, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Baby step, but a good one. Too bad some in the GA delegation continue to portray themselves as small govt conservatives while voting as big nanny protectionists.

xdog May 31, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Of the 12 gopers who voted against Boehner for Speaker, 8 supported the amendment and 4 opposed. 222 supported Boehner and only 45 of those voted yea.

3 of the 6 goper sponsors opposed Boehner.

So this looks like payback by leadership, at least to a certain extent.

On the donk side, I don’t know how many of the supporters were true believers and how many mischief makers.

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