Federal lawmakers on the move to change the way the Department of Justice handles states that have legalized cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes are gearing up for what media sources are calling a “marijuana vote-a-rama” later this week.
A report from The Hill indicates that on Wednesday, bipartisan lawmakers will submit several proposals aimed at severing the authority of the Justice Department in an effort to prevent the agency from waging war against states where voters have harmoniously decided to legalize the leaf. Ultimately, these amendments would be attached to a new federal spending bill, which pot activists would cripple the beast of the Drug Enforcement Agency next fiscal year.
Among the six or so amendments to appear on Capitol Hill is one being sponsored by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher and Sam Farr of California, which would prevent federal funds from being used to go after states that have legalized medical marijuana. A similar measure was approved in 2014 and signed into law by President Obama, but that version expires in September 2015.
Yet, as we learned earlier this year in an article published by the Los Angeles Times, the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is overseen by the Justice Department, never really stopped prosecuting individuals and businesses associated with the medical marijuana.
Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, told the Times that the amendment attached to the federal spending bill only hinders Uncle Sam from “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws,” but it does nothing to ensure the protection of the medical marijuana industry or the patients they serve.
Let’s hope the latest version of this particular amendment contains a provision that actually defends law-biding members of medicinal cannabis community from federal prosecution.
If not, Representatives Tom McClintock of California and Jared Polis of Colorado supposedly have a proposal that will. The lawmakers plan to introduce an amendment that will take the concept of last year’s “protect medical marijuana states” budget attachment and expand it to the recreational sector – reportedly with language that will prevent the sort of shakedown shenanigans we witnessed by the DEA over the course of the past year.
“This amendment will not only protect critically ill medical marijuana patients from federal prosecution but, unlike previous versions, will also apply to adult [recreational] use of marijuana in states where it is legal, like Colorado and Washington,” Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.
Other amendments that are reportedly being discussed, includes one that would strip the funding the DEA uses to enforce marijuana laws and apply it towards solving rape cases. Another would stop the Justice Department from interfering in state hemp laws.