WASHINGTON — Reflecting growing national acceptance of cannabis, a bipartisan coalition of House members voted early Friday to restrict the Drug Enforcement Administration from using funds to go after medical marijuana operations that are legal under state laws.
An appropriations amendment offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) prohibiting the DEA from spending funds to arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers passed 219-189. The Senate will likely consider its own appropriations bill for the DEA, and the House amendment would have to survive a joint conference before it could go into effect.
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.
“Some people are suffering, and if a doctor feels that he needs to prescribe something to alleviate that suffering, it is immoral for this government to get in the way,” Rohrabacher said, his voice rising. “And that’s what’s happening.”
The debate pitted three House Republicans who also are doctors against one another. Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) opposed the amendment, while Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) supported it.
Harris insisted that there were no medical benefits to marijuana and that medical marijuana laws were a step toward legalizing recreational pot.
“It’s the camel’s nose under the tent,” said Harris. He cited piece of anti-marijuana propaganda published by the DEA this month that claimed medical marijuana was just “a means to an end” — the eventual legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. The taxpayer-funded report uses scare quotes around the word “medical.”
By Ryan J. Reilly
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