Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to prevent an impending government shutdown. This urgency gave many lawmakers the opportunity to amend the spending bill and passed an amendment that stops the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from using federal funds to “prevent [medical marijuana states] from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” Essentially, Congress ends medical marijuana enforcement by taking away any money to enforce federal law. Essentially, this means the states that currently have medical marijuana can continue their programs without fear of the federal intervention. In other words, medical marijuana is here to stay and patients and doctors no longer need to fear DEA raids and prosecution.
The debate on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment is amazing, from Congress’ website:
It is no surprise then that public opinion is shifting, too. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 61 percent of Republicans and a whooping 76 percent of Independents favor making medical marijuana legal and available to their patients who need it. As I have said, 29 States have already enacted laws that will permit patients access to medical marijuana and their derivatives. By the way, 80 percent of Democrats feel the same way. Despite this overwhelming shift in public opinion, the Federal Government continues its hard-line oppression against medical marijuana. For those of us who routinely talk about the 10th Amendment, which we do in conservative ranks, and respect for State laws, this amendment should be a no-brainer. In addition, this also gives us the opportunity to prove that we really do believe in respecting the doctor-patient relationship.”
You can’t bust these people:
Mr. Chair, I rise in support of this amendment as a coauthor of it and to point out this is six Democrats and six Republicans that are authoring this. There are 33 States, three of which have just passed laws and the Governors have indicated they will sign them. This is essentially saying, look, if you are following State law, you are a legal resident doing your business under State law, the Feds just can’t come in and bust you and bust the doctors and bust the patient. It is more than half the States. So you don’t have to have any opinion about the value of marijuana. This doesn’t change any laws. This doesn’t affect one law, just lists the States that have already legalized it only for medical purposes, only medical purposes, and says, Federal Government, in those States, in those places, you can’t bust people. It seems to me a practical, reasonable amendment in this time and age.”
Congress ends medical marijuana enforcement by taking funds from DEA
You can read the full text of the amendment and the legislative debate on the issue here: