House GOP Blocks State Medical Cannabis Protections For Now

capitol hill congress marijuana cannabis
(image via EDCapitolHill.org)

The decision certainly isn’t final, but it is distressing that the Republican House leadership is poised to block the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment that prevents the U.S. Justice Department from utilizing funds to investigate, arrest and prosecute medical cannabis providers complying with their state’s law. Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is pressing his GOP colleagues to continue the federal policy of respecting states’ rights, but, unfortunately, at this time, the Republican leadership isn’t planning on following the will of the voters, or their own principles.

The Hill reports:

Several lawmakers said Wednesday that GOP leaders won’t allow the full House to vote on an amendment that bars the Justice Department from pursuing states that have legalized medical marijuana.

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At a Wednesday morning closed-door briefing of House Republicans, California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) implored his GOP colleagues to press House leaders to allow a vote on his amendment.

Fellow Californian Rep. Duncan Hunter told The Hill that after Rohrabacher “talked about it this morning in conference,” GOP leaders said “it splits the conference too much so we’re not going to have a vote on it.”

While the current position of Republican House leadership is disheartening, and as the majority party, they alone control the legislative agenda, the cannabis community has faced worse odds, so we have just begun fighting. Not only do we have a supermajority of the American people on our side, but we have more political allies than ever before, on both sides of the aisle, starting with Representative Rohrabacher, who just published an opinion piece in The Washington Post and took to the House floor, where he vowed to fight for state medical marijuana protections.

From Rohrabacher’s Washington Post oped, “My fellow conservatives should protect medical marijuana from the government”:

Unfortunately, my longtime friend Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, has urged Congress to drop the amendment, now co-sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). This, despite President Trump’s belief, made clear in his campaign and as president, that states alone should decide medical marijuana policies.

I should not need to remind our chief law enforcement officer nor my fellow Republicans that our system of federalism, also known as states’ rights, was designed to resolve just such a fractious issue. Our party still bears a blemish for wielding the “states’ rights” cudgel against civil rights. If we bury state autonomy in order to deny patients an alternative to opioids, and ominously federalize our police, our hypocrisy will deserve the American people’s contempt.

More than half the states have liberalized medical marijuana laws, some even decriminalizing recreational use. Some eighty percent of Americans favor legalization of medical marijuana. Only a benighted or mean-spirited mind-set would want to block such progress.

The cannabis community has come too far to allow Jeff Sessions and other Drug War dinosaurs turn back the clock. Too many patients depend upon medical cannabis and too many hard-working people have poured their blood, sweat, tears and life savings into their cannabis businesses. Contact your House representative member, especially if they are a Republican, and simply remind them that they need to respect the will of the voters and pass the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment that respects states’ rights.

UPDATE: Marijuana Majority just issued a press release after the Republican House just blocked the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, along with several other positive cannabis reform proposals.

Congressional Leadership Blocks Medical Marijuana Vote

Amendment Is Current Law And Passed With Strong Bipartisan Votes In 2014 and 2015

Additional Cannabis Riders Diverted From Floor

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. House Rules Committee moved on Wednesday evening to block floor consideration of an amendment to continue an existing rider preventing the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.

The committee has repeatedly blocked cannabis amendments on recent spending bills, most recently in July when it ruled that a measure to allow military veterans to receive medical marijuana recommendations from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doctors was not in order.

The issues aren’t dead yet, as the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee added both the state medical cannabis protections and the veterans rider to its versions of spending bills this year. The matters will likely be resolved by a House-Senate conference committee that later merges the two chambers’ bills together.

Tom Angell, founder and chairman of Marijuana Majority, released the following statement:

“Opposing seriously ill patients’ access to medical cannabis is sick enough, but blocking the people’s representatives from even being able to vote on the matter is just obscene. Forty-six states now allow some form of medical marijuana and polls consistently show that more than 90% of voters support the issue, but a small handful of Congressional ‘leaders’ decided behind closed doors to kill this amendment without due consideration. Marijuana reform opponents know that the only way they can impede our progress is by using dirty legislative tricks. But they won’t be able to do this without people noticing.”

The medical cannabis amendment was sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and a bipartisan group of 12 other members.

Background information on the rider, including past vote tallies, is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/…/Hinchey-Rohrabacher_medical…

The Rules Committee on Wednesday also blocked floor consideration of a number of other cannabis amendments, including ones dealing with scientific research, protecting state full legalization laws, hemp and Washington, D.C.’s ability to spend its own money on regulating marijuana sales: https://rules.house.gov/bill/115/hr-3354

Current federal funding levels, along with policy provisions including the state medical cannabis protections, are set to expire on September 30. It is likely that Congress will enact a short-term extension through December 15 while it works on finalizing full Fiscal Year 2018 funding legislation.

Marijuana Majority is dedicated to making sure the media, politicians and government officials treat marijuana as a serious issue that is important to a growing majority of Americans.

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Anthony Johnson
About Anthony Johnson 128 Articles

Anthony Johnson, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, is the director of New Approach Oregon, working to effectively implement the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature, before regulatory bodies,and at city councils and county commissions across the state.

He was proud to work as Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon’s cannabis legalization effort and director of the Vote Yes on 91 PAC, the political action committees responsible for the state’s legalization campaign. He also advises cannabis entrepreneurs on how to comply with Oregon’s laws and helps organize the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference. Anthony’s blogs on are personal in nature and don’t speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization. You can see his work here at WeedNews.co as well as MarijuanaPolitics.com.