U.S. House votes to defund DEA medical marijuana raids in Colorado, other MMJ states
Over the years, marijuana activists have frequently talked about the tipping point -- the moment at which so many states have legalized pot that the federal government is forced to change its policies in regard to a substance still considered a Schedule 1 narcotic by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
A photo from a previous DEA marijuana raid in Denver.
In years to come, historians may look at what happened last night as an important step in that direction. The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted to defund DEA medical marijuana raids in states, including Colorado, where MMJ is legal.
The vote came in conjunction with H.R. 4660, a massive appropriations bill for "the Departments of Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 15, 2015," according to the version of the bill on view below.
AMENDMENT TO H.R. 4660, AS REPORTED (CJS APPROPRIATIONS) OFFERED BY MR. ROHRABACHER OF CALIFORNIAOther measures like this one have been introduced in the past, but none have ever gotten close to passage. According to the Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell, the previous high-water mark was 165 votes in favor way back in 2007.
At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:
SEC. ll. None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.
This time around, however, the House passed the amendment 219 to 189 -- a margin that leaves Angell happily startled, as is clear in an e-mail statement to Westword shared late last night.
"This historic vote shows just how quickly marijuana reform has become a mainstream issue," Angell writes. "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 the 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."
One factor for increasing support cited by Angell: the attention garnered by parents of children using low THC/high CBD forms of marijuana to treat children suffering from severe seizure disorders. Last year, as we've reported, Charlotte Figi, a Colorado child diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, an uncommon, and serious, form of epilepsy, became a poster child for this movement when CNN's Sanjay Gupta featured her story in reports about how he changed his mind about the medical efficacy of cannabis. Since then, an increasing number of families whose children are afflicted with similar conditions have moved to Colorado in order to gain access to this treatment.
Charlotte Figi as seen in CNN coverage.
"This year's huge vote increase can largely be attributed to the fact that lawmakers only recently began hearing the moving stories of the many children whose severe seizures are only relieved by marijuana," Angell notes. "Being able to list these CBD states in the amendment text meant that more members of Congress that represent these states voted yes than otherwise would have. Counting these states, 60 percent of the U.S. population lives in a place where state law disagrees with federal law."
Other advocates are similarly jazzed by last night's vote.
Continue for more about last night's historic vote, including an original document and a video.