House Votes to Tell DEA to Leave Medical Pot Alone

In a rather astonishing turn of events, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to an omnibus spending bill that would order the DEA not to interfere with medical marijuana use and sale in states where it is legal. The vote was even relatively easy, 219-189.

The US House of Representatives late Thursday passed a measure that would prohibit the federal government from interfering with states’ medical marijuana laws.

The bill is the first time in history that any chamber of Congress has acted to protect medical marijuana businesses and users. It also got bipartisan support: 170 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted in favor of the bill.

The measure was attached to a funding bill for several federal agencies, and it blocks the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration from using funds to prevent states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws.

The measure, however, will require approval from the Senate and President Barack Obama. The Senate is expected to pass its own funding bill, so the medical marijuana amendment will need to survive through both chambers’ reconciliation process — and then obtain Obama’s signature — to become law.

Of the 219 yes votes, 170 of them were Democrats and 49 were Republicans, including some of the most conservative members of Congress (Paul Broun, Steve Stockman). The question of whether it survives a conference committee is really the interesting one. If it does, Obama will almost certainly sign it (he isn’t going to hold up funding for multiple federal agencies to veto the bill over that provision). That could be a big step in the right direction.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Mr Ed

    I just don’t feel safe knowing somewhere a terminal cancer patient might be smoking a marijuana.

  • John Pieret

    including some of the most conservative members of Congress (Paul Broun, Steve Stockman)

    Probably just an accident … they forgot which button was for a “yes” vote and which was for a “no.”

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Let me Fix That For Fox:

    … 170 Democrats America-hating perverted liberals and 49 Republicans RINOs voted in favor …

  • Alverant

    “including some of the most conservative members of Congress”

    As in “actually believes in ‘small government’ even if it helps people” conservatives?

  • eric

    The question of whether it survives a conference committee is really the interesting one.

    Yup. As one staffer put it to me a few years back: “you can’t call yourself a veteran until you’ve successfully gotten a bill passed in the House, passed in the Senate, and then watched it die in committee.”

  • … and in other news, a man bit a dog today.

  • bjarndoolaeghe

    And I’m still spitting out the hairs. Damn that was a mistake..

  • freehand

    Hmmm. Sounds like somebody realized the campaign contribution potential in medical marijuana lobbyists. Why should Mexican drug cartels reap the benefits from hard working ‘Muricans?

  • dhall

    Is it possible that some of the Republican votes came from those who consider themselves libertarians? If so, their votes in favor of telling the DEA to back off make sense.

  • Matrim

    And the thing is, this is just the sort of bill that Republicans ostensibly stand for. It prioritized states’ rights, limits the power of the federal government…I’m surprised it didn’t get more support.