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Marijuana: Rand Paul-Cory Booker MMJ amendment hits a snag

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Rand Paul in a photo from his U.S. Senate website.
Late last month, the U.S. House voted to defund DEA medical marijuana raids in Colorado and other states that have legalized MMJ -- an unprecedented development that was greeted with cheers by many cannabis reformers.

But the next step in the legislative process -- passage by the U.S. Senate -- hit a snag despite support by two extraordinarily odd political bedfellows: Kentucky's Rand "Son of Ron" Paul, a firebrand touted in many quarters as a 2016 Republican presidential hopeful, and New Jersey's Cory Booker, a liberal Democrat and unapologetic pal of President Barack Obama.

Last Thursday, Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, announced that the Paul-Booker amendment to the the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act might see action that day or the next.

In expectation of this exciting event, Riffle released the following statement: "Poll after poll shows 70-80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana. Even among conservatives, most oppose enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal for some purpose. Having two rising stars like Rand Paul and Cory Booker team up to introduce this amendment just shows how popular the issue has become, and that our outdated federal marijuana laws are inevitably going to change."

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A screen capture of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.
Shortly thereafter, however, the wheels of bureaucracy ground to a halt, with Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, delaying the main bill because, Politico reports, she felt "caught between White House veto threats and Republican amendments."

"It had nothing to do with our amendment," Riffle stresses. "And hopefully, some kind of agreement will be brokered and the amendment will get a vote."

If peace isn't reached, the amendment may still have life: Some technical machinations could bring it back in another form. Still, Riffle believes "this is something we think should be enshrined in law, and not just as an appropriations amendment." So should the amendment process falter, "we'd like to see it as a standalone piece of legislation."

How might a bill on this topic fare? Even Riffle isn't sure, since this would mark its maiden voyage in the Senate.

"Everybody in the Senate assumed it would never get passed in the House," he acknowledges, because "everyone incorrectly believed it's a liberal issue. But there's a strong argument that it's actually a conservative issue -- and it's certainly a bipartisan issue."

The fact that ideological opposites such as Paul and Booker agree on the concept is evidence of this last claim. Moreover, columnist Michelle Malkin and other far-right notables have become increasingly outspoken about their support of legal medical marijuana.

In Riffle's view, "marijuana laws should be left up to the states -- and it's very clear that more and more states are going to follow Colorado's lead. We need to let states be laboratories for democracy -- see what policies work and don't work. And will only be able to do that if the federal government gets out of the way."

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa May 30: "U.S. House votes to defund DEA medical marijuana raids in Colorado, other MMJ states."


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16 comments
cvampiri
cvampiri

Don Quick: A Prosecutor, not a politician

Solitarypillar
Solitarypillar

Anyone who thinks Rand Paul is coming from some diametrically opposed standpoint knows nothing about his libertarian background.  Libertarians are for limited government and increased freedom.  Why would anyone assume a libertarian would support more government to enforce laws that just limit the freedom of the people to do what they want?  Legalization of marijuana has always been on the platform of the libertarian party long before any noticeable share of the Democratic Party was for it.

HughStoner
HughStoner

During the last 32 years, stockbroker Irvin Rosenfeld has smoked 130,000 marijuana cigarettes - with the federal government's blessing.

As jaws dropped in a Harrisburg legislative chamber filled with state senators, Rosenfeld made the remark Tuesday and then held up a silver canister containing 300 pre-rolled joints, a month's supply.

He continues to receive the canisters from a government-authorized farm in Mississippi to help treat a rare bone-tumor disorder. This despite the drug's classification by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a top-tier hazardous substance with no medicinal value.

"I'm living proof of the hypocrisy of the federal government," 

....

While experimenting with cannabis during his college years, he discovered he was able to sit for longer periods without pain and his tumors were decreasing in number.

"It's amazing how well it works," Rosenfeld said. He said that he has undergone various tests and his lungs and brain have not shown any signs of being compromised by the drug.

The program started in 1976 when Robert Randall, a glaucoma patient, sued the government, saying cannabis was preventing him from losing his sight. A federal judge agreed. Rosenfeld became the second patient after spending a decade appealing to the federal Food and Drug Administration to be part of a cannabis research program.

http://articles.philly.com/2014-06-12/news/50511479_1_compassionate-investigative-new-drug-irvin-rosenfeld-marijuana-bill


Downthelaw
Downthelaw

The fight for med marijuana is going good and that's great and all, but we need full legalization. It's more for the end of the worst thing about marijuana and that is the costly, wasteful, FAILED prohibition against it. A prohibition that has done nothing but empower street gangs and cartels, waste billions of tax dollars, tax dollars that throw good tax paying people in jail and take them out of the work force and help destroy the economy. Legalization will help create jobs, make tax revenue, regulate marijuana that is being sold anyways where in the black market kids can get it just as easy as anyone. And when kids get it off the streets, they are shown all the other drugs that is the gateway people talk about. We must end prohibition once and for all plain and simple. 

PhilDeBowl
PhilDeBowl

I'll be sure to refrain from MerryWanna untill the Senate votes,,,,,right!

PhilDeBowl
PhilDeBowl

I'll be sure not to enjoy any MerryWanna untill the Senate votes,,,,,,cough,cough.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Thanks so much, Collaborationist Senator-for-Life Mikulski!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

As predicted, it will NEVER pass.



Duncan20903
Duncan20903

@Downthelaw More than a century of hysterical rhetoric and demonization of people who choose to enjoy cannabis is just not going to go away overnight. I often see my fellow cannabis law reform advocates make the mistake of thinking that the smartest public policies proposed are possible. IMO that's letting perfection be the enemy of progress.


But by now that issue is moot. The madness of crowds that the people on the other side of the table have been suffering for so long is in the process of collapsing and that process has taken on a life of its own. When manias collapse it happens very, very quickly. Get yourself a bag of popcorn, your favorite soft drink and a lawn chair. Sit back and enjoy the show.

thcmc420
thcmc420

Donkeys butt, why are you such a Douche bag?

thcmc420
thcmc420

Go watch Game of DOUCHBAGS barbarian cuz u r 1

barbarian.bob1
barbarian.bob1

@thcmc420  hows business ripping off Akaskans ? i would have been your dad but the dog beat me upstairs LOLOOL

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