In a rare act of lucidity, 49 House Republicans crossed the aisle Friday and voted to prohibit the DEA from going after medical marijuana providers protected by state laws.
The amendment to appropriations bill H.R. 4660 was spearheaded by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who once worked in the Reagan “Just Say No” Whitehouse. The amendment passed 219-189.
On the House floor, Rohrabacher called upon conservatives who strongly support states’ rights to consider the amendment a “no-brainer” and stated emphatically that the federal government must not be allowed to interfere with a doctor-patient relationship.
Some people are suffering, and if a doctor feels that he needs to prescribe something to alleviate that suffering, it is immoral for this government to get in the way. The state governments have recognized that a doctor has a right to treat his patient any way he sees fit, and so did our Founding Fathers.”
Of course, not all Republicans saw the ethical reasoning behind his argument, not even the majority. Three representative-doctors jumped in with opinions. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) said Yea; Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said No way.
In addition to the need for Congress to “reserve the states’ powers under the Constitution,” Broun argued, there are “very valid medical reasons” to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
It’s less dangerous than some narcotics that doctors prescribe all over this country”
Harris had an opposing point of view.
This is not medicine. This would be like me as a physician saying, ‘you know, I think you need some penicillin. Go chew on some mold.’ Of course I wouldn’t do that. I write for 250 mg of penicillin, [every] 6 hours, times 10 days. I don’t write, ‘chew on a mold a couple of times a day.'”
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo), whose state even legalized non-medicinal marijuana without disasterous aftereffects on health, crime or the economy, said fixating on what happens next in the congressional process misses the larger point.
The will of the House is important on this issue. Congress is far from leading the country in this regard. Rather, we’re catching up with where the country already is.”
Perhaps this amendment with help undo some of the damage to Congress’ reputation with the passing of the “ENFORCE the Law Act of 2014,” the sole purpose of which was to strongarm President Obama and the Attorney General into enforcing Federal laws which prohibit states from selling marijuana for any reason.
The Senate will probably come up with its own DEA appropriations bill, and the House amendment would have to survive a joint conference before it could go into effect.