House Blocks DEA From Targeting Medical Marijuana
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House Blocks DEA From Targeting Medical Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on May 30, 2014 at 04:28:07 PT
By Ryan J. Reilly and Matt Ferner
Source: Huffington Post
Washington, D.C. -- 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.""I don't think we should accept at all that this is history in the making," said Fleming, who lamented earlier this month that it wasn't realistic to make alcohol illegal.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."Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) co-sponsored the amendment with Reps. Rohrabacher, Don Young (R-Alaska), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Steve Stockman (R-Texas), and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)."The conflicting nature of state and federal marijuana laws has created an untenable situation," Blumenauer said prior to the House debate. "It's time we take the federal government out of the equation so medical marijuana business owners operating under state law aren't living in constant fear of having their doors kicked down in the middle of the night."Under the Obama administration, the DEA and several U.S. attorneys have raided marijuana dispensaries that complied with state laws. The DEA still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance with "no currently accepted medical use," and the agency has engaged in an aggressive public relations campaign to diminish medical benefits.Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. Five other states -- Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Utah, and Wisconsin -- have legalized CBD oils, a non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that may treat epilepsy.A number of studies in recent years have shown the medical potential of cannabis. Purified forms may attack some forms of aggressive cancer. Marijuana use also has been tied to better blood sugar control and may help slow the spread of HIV. Legalization of the plant for medical purposes may lead to lower suicide rates, according to one study.Thursday’s vote follows changing public sentiment toward the government's failed war on drugs. A recent Pew survey found that 67 percent of Americans support drug policies that focus on providing treatment, rather than an arrest and prosecution. An overwhelming majority of Americans also support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes -- a recent CBS News poll found 86 percent think doctors should be able to prescribe marijuana to seriously ill patients."Those who suffer under current policies are not faceless," Blumenauer said. "They are not statistics. They are our neighbors and live in our communities. They are the owners of small businesses that are so important to our economy, and patients with conditions -- often desperate and painful -- who have turned to medical marijuana to help them get through each day. They're not the enemy, and it's time we stopped treating them like it."UPDATE: 12:38 a.m. -- Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, issued this statement:"This historic vote shows just how quickly marijuana reform has become a mainstream issue. The last time a similar amendment came up it didn't come very close to passing but, since then, more states have passed medical marijuana laws and a couple have even legalized marijuana for all adults. More states are on this way later this year and in 2016, and it's clear that more politicians are beginning to realize that the American people want the federal government to stop standing in the way. If any political observers weren't aware that the end of the war on marijuana is nearing, they just found out."CORRECTION: An earlier version misidentified Rep. Earl Blumenauer's state. It is Oregon, not Washington.Source: Huffington Post (NY)Author: Ryan J. Reilly and Matt FernerPublished: May 30, 2014Copyright: 2014, LLC Contact: scoop huffingtonpost.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on May 31, 2014 at 04:24:10 PT
It is huge!
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Comment #6 posted by rchandar on May 30, 2014 at 20:41:36 PT:
This is Huge
It's about time. They are given way too much power and ridiculous amounts of legal support that is disproportionate to their role in the government. I think that no USG organization--not even the FBI or Homeland Security--are given the amount of immunity from scrutiny and accountability as the DEA. It is very important that this bill passes and is signed into law. Their webpage is shocking: 'don't mess with the men in blue'. Anything that absurd should never be on a government website.Probably some of them have committed crimes by now that had nothing to do with their job. They have enjoyed a kind of supra-legal power that state and city--and in many cases federal--law enforcement officers simply don't have. The government must serve the people, not themselves. 
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Comment #5 posted by afterburner on May 30, 2014 at 15:50:41 PT
"WOW! They Finally Did It!" I Said Outloud.
Since the House of Representatives controls Government spending, the Senate would be wise to approve this amendment.
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on May 30, 2014 at 11:51:34 PT
Some of these guys have been hammering away
at this relentlessly, for years and years and years.Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) co-sponsored the amendment with Reps. Rohrabacher, Don Young (R-Alaska), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Steve Stockman (R-Texas), and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).Rohrabacher and Babara Lee for sure. And then these pugilistic young 'power for the people' guys like Polis and Cohen hit the scene for just the back up and strength they needed. This is good. It's wonderful.Thank you to you all that sponsored, promoted, and voted for the bill. I'm so grateful.I'm thinking the Senate is ready for this, too. I hope so.
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on May 30, 2014 at 10:32:36 PT
this is huge
will the Senate confirm this?  This is a big change if it actually gets implemented. Fantastic. Many peole's lives have been ruined with 5 and 10 years sentences by the feds.
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Comment #2 posted by schmeff on May 30, 2014 at 08:34:33 PT
Blumenauer - Man of the Hour
Way to go Earl! The folks back home are proud of you. Another common-sense populist from the great state of Oregon.Keep your eye on Earl Blumenauer, or our equally stellar Senator Jeff Merkley...either could be the next Bernie Sanders.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 30, 2014 at 04:32:36 PT
Another Small Step
It's been a long time coming to get this far.
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