While we’re not advocating any kind of intoxication as a way of life, this measure to prevent the DEA from going after medical marijuana dispensers and users signals a major shift toward a saner way to deal with the drug.
The states of Washington and Colorado have taken steps to regulate the sale and use of recreational pot, perhaps leading to some positive impact on those states. For one, that might help reduce street crime and violence by reducing the criminal underground drug trade. That’s certainly got to be something of a boon to the police along with freeing them from spending inordinate amounts of time chasing low-level dealers and pot heads. And, there’s the tax benefits.
Not to be cynical, but given history and headlines, legalized pot can’t be any more dangerous than legalized alcohol, which certainly has taken its toll on society.
Of course, all drug use can lead to social problems, including breakdowns in families and lost of productivity at work. Seems some education would be in order for young folks, just as alcohol education would be a good thing.
Meanwhile, it’s good to see the House of Representatives lighten up on some issues. Maybe now they can get back to dealing with some more serious national problems.
A budtender pours marijuana from a jar at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Photo by David McNew/Getty
House blocks feds from going after medical marijuana
By Amanda Sakuma
For the first time ever, Congress is taking action to protect – not condemn – medical marijuana use.Shortly after midnight Friday, the GOP-led House passed a measure that would prohibit the Drug Enforcement Agency from raiding medical marijuana activities in states where it is legal. It gained broad bipartisan support with 170 Democrats and 49 Republicans voting in favor of the bill, with a final 219-189 tally.
Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California attached the measure to a routine spending bill. It would block the Justice Department from using federal dollars to interfere with medical marijuana operations that are legal in almost half of states in the country.
“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, raising his voice on the House floor Thursday night. “And that’s what’s happening.”
The measure still faces several procedural hurdles. The Senate is expected to pass its own funding bill, meaning the amendment would have to survive the reconciliation process in a joint conference. And that’s even before it makes it to the president’s desk for his signature.
The groundbreaking vote mirrors a growing swell of support for marijuana across state legislatures and among the public. For the first time ever, a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana. Minnesota just became the latest state to green-light medical use of pot, adding to the 21 other states and the District of Columbia that have similar laws on the books. Meanwhile Washington and Colorado are becoming a testing ground in shaping a market and regulation for recreational pot use while the drug remains illegal under federal law.