The 'Cannabis Caucus' on Capital Hill is lashing out against the House of Representatives for stripping medical marijuana patients of their only protection from the DEA. The caucus — a bipartisan group of lawmakers advocating marijuana reform — was quick to condemn the House committee that recently nixed an amendment in the federal budget that prevented the DEA from spending a single penny on raiding states that have legalized medicinal cannabis use.
Without that protection, there's nothing stopping Attorney General Jeff "good people don't smoke marijuana" Sessions from sicking federal agents on budtenders, dispensary owners and even medical marijuana patients across the country. And Sessions will probably do just that since he wrote a letter to Congress last May, asking lawmakers to remove the budget amendment so that he had the power to enforce federal marijuana prohibition from coast to coast in a crackdown that would jeopardize the lives of millions.
“By blocking our amendment, Committee leadership is putting at risk the millions of patients who rely on medical marijuana for treatment, as well as the clinics and businesses that support them," Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D- OR) and Dana Rohrabacher (R - CA) said in a statement. "This decision goes against the will of the American people, who overwhelmingly oppose federal interference with state marijuana laws."
And that's no exaggeration. A recent Quinnipiac poll says 94 percent of Americans support medical marijuana. So by nixing the marijuana amendment, the House Rules Committee is playing politics with the lives of patients as well as the well being of people committed to helping them. But Blumenauer and Rohrabacher won't let the amendment — which has been passed in every budget since 2014 — die without a fight.
“Our fight to protect medical marijuana patients is far from over. The marijuana reform movement is large and growing. This bad decision by the House Rules Committee is an affront to the 46 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized use and distribution of some form of medical marijuana. These programs serve millions of Americans. This setback, however, is not the final word. As House and Senate leadership negotiate a long-term funding bill, we will fight to maintain current protections.”
But fighting for the status quo is a shortsighted approach to a long-term problem. Since the medical marijuana amendment has to be approved with every budget, it only offers temporary relief for those millions of patients who could face criminal prosecution for taking their medicine. Those patients won't get real, sustainable protection until lawmakers finally get onboard with 94 percent of their constituents and legalize medical marijuana.
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