Senate Committee Votes to Block DEA from Interfering in Medical Marijuana States

By Victoria Kim 06/18/15

The Senate Appropriations Committee fired a shot across the Drug Enforcement Administration's bow.

barbara mikulski senat committee.jpg
Former Committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski. Wiki Commons

Both the House and Senate sent a message to the Justice Department, particularly the Drug Enforcement Administration, to stop interfering in medical marijuana states.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of renewing a provision on Thursday that would block the Justice Department from using federal money to interfere in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

An identical amendment was passed in the House a week prior to the Senate Committee vote. The same provision was passed last year through both houses of Congress, and was in the federal spending bill signed into law in December by President Barack Obama.

The appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016 to which the amendment was offered by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) has yet to be approved by the Senate. But Phillip Smith of AlterNet says the fact that the identical amendments once again passed in both houses is a “good indicator that they will be included in the spending bill when it gets to President Obama’s desk.”

So far 23 states and the District of Columbia have approved medical marijuana; and four states and D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. According to a 2013 report released by Americans for Safe Access, the Obama administration has spent nearly $80 million each year cracking down on medical marijuana.

“Our founding fathers didn’t want criminal justice to be handled by the federal government. This is absolutely absurd that the federal government is going to mandate all these things even though the people of the states and many doctors would like to have the right to prescribe to their patients what they think will alleviate their suffering,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who introduced the amendment to the appropriations bill in the House. ”This is a states’ rights issue.”

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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