Congress Shows Historic Support for Medical Marijuana

By Victoria Kim 12/11/14

While Congress has struggled to pass a simple spending bill, they did manage to insert language stopping the feds from interfering.

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Amendments that prohibit the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration from using funds to interfere in state-legal medical marijuana and industrial hemp research were included in the $1.1 trillion spending bill released Tuesday.

If passed, the spending bill would protect medical marijuana programs in the 23 states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

“None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used…to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana,” the bill reads.

Congress included hemp protections as well, blocking the Justice Department and the DEA from obstructing industrial hemp production, which is legal in 18 states. The farm bill enacted in February legalized industrial hemp production in states that permit it.

“The enactment of this legislation will mark the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana and has instead taken an approach to respect the many states that have permitted the use of medical marijuana to some degree,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif), who introduced the medical marijuana protections amendment with co-sponsor Rep. Sam Farr (D-Caif.) in May.

The DEA has continued to raid medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized medical marijuana under the Obama administration. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug alongside LSD, heroin, and ecstasy, which the DEA defines as having “no currently accepted medical use” and a “high potential for abuse.”

Despite the support for state-legal medical marijuana and hemp, Congress blocked federal and local funds to be used “to enact any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use or distribution” of marijuana in the District of Columbia.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr