GOP Congressman Admits To Using MMJ While In Office

By McCarton Ackerman 05/27/16
Prior to his admission, US Rep Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) has been the GOP's primary voice in the charge for Congress to revamp marijuana laws.
GOP Congressman Admits To Using MMJ While In Office
U.S. Rep Dana Rohrabacher Photo via YouTube/Real Time

A GOP congressman surprised a group of marijuana activists by admitting that he used medical marijuana while in office to treat his chronic arthritis.

The Washington Post reported that U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California first tried a topical wax-based medical marijuana treatment two weeks ago. He told the group it was “the first time in a year and a half that I had a decent night’s sleep because the arthritis pain was gone."

Rohrabacher “is definitely the first legislator in Congress in at least 30-some-odd years who has acknowledged to using marijuana illegally,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Rohrabacher has been a primary GOP voice in Congress in favor of reforming marijuana laws. In previous years, the Republican, with the help of Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) successfully ensured that the federal government could not use any funds to go after medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal.

It remains to be seen if there will be any ramifications for the congressman's personal use. Medical marijuana is legal in California, but not under federal law. It’s still listed as a Schedule I drug, defined as having a high potential for abuse with no accepted medical benefits.

Last July, House Republicans declined to approve allowing federal studies on medical marijuana. They let a bipartisan marijuana proposal die in the House that would have granted national laboratories permission to begin credible research on marijuana's safety and efficacy as a medical treatment. The proposal would have facilitated a research collaboration between the Drug Enforcement Administration and National Institutes of Health to examine marijuana’s effects on treating cancer, epilepsy and PTSD, among other conditions.

“We let doctors use heroin derivatives, barbiturates and all kinds of nasty stuff that I wouldn’t want people to use recreationally. Why not study marijuana?” said fellow House Republican, Rep. H. Morgan Griffith of Virginia, who supported the proposal. “This amendment would have answered the question one way or the other. I think it would have shown it is a valuable medical substance, but now we don’t have the evidence.”

Twenty-four states and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana, while three states currently have pending legislation.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.