Senate Shuts Down DEA Efforts to Interfere in Marijuana Reforms
Marijuana reform; how much can be said about the leaps and bounds this country has seen in regards to legalization or decriminalization of this substance. Voices ring out from both sides of the argument about various issues coming to light, bipartisan movements continue to march forward with revolutionary ideas for regulation and the federal government has begun to step in with surprising results.
Tuesday June 2nd lawmakers voted to strip $23 million from the budget of a besieged Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in favor of committing those funds toward a new agenda focused on awareness and intervention rather than aggressive pursuit and prosecution. Part of this new plan consisted of a proposal to halt outside authorities from the DEA interfering with state-legal medical marijuana and industrial hemp operations.
Both the House and Senate stood to make a statement to the Justice Department, particularly the DEA. That message was firm and direct- stop interfering in medical marijuana states.
Refereeing the Refer Madness
As it stands today there:
- 23 states and the District of Columbia which have already approved medical marijuana
- 4 states and D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted this past Thursday in favor of renewing a provision designed to block-out the Justice Department from using federal money to interfere in the implementation and execution of state medical marijuana laws.
This is an action that has been a long time in the making.
A week prior to the Senate Committee vote an identical amendment had been passed in the House, and the same provision was passed last year through both houses of Congress before ending up in the federal spending bill signed into law by President Barack Obama way back in December.
Americans for Safe Access released a report back in 2013 stating the Obama administration has spent nearly $80 million each year cracking down on medical marijuana, and it has gotten to the point the federal government is beginning to sense this is a misappropriation of funding and resources that could be better spent somewhere else.
The amendment cultivated to protect states rights for marijuana laws was originally offered by Maryland’s Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski added to the appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016 has yet to be approved by the Senate, but sources say the fact the identical amendments once again passed in both houses is a decent indication they will be included in the spending bill by the time President Obama gets his hands on it to proofread before approval.
California Republican House Representative Dana Rohrabacher is the one who had introduced the amendment before it ever reached Senate to the House of Representatives earlier this month and as far as advocates go she is one of the front runners, consistent in insisting this is a states’ rights issue. Rohrabacher made a powerful declaration concerning this who discussion when she state:
“Our founding fathers didn’t want criminal justice to be handled by the federal government. This is absolutely absurd that the federal government is going to mandate all these things even though the people of the states and many doctors would like to have the right to prescribe to their patients what they think will alleviate their suffering,”
Now as the initial shock wears off, all eyes are turning toward these pot politics to see if it will actually get pushed through. Will this year be the year the federal government shuts the DEA and Department of Justice (DOJ) down from dealing out raids and arrests related to marijuana in states where the industry has been supported and approved by the citizens and the elected officials?
Is the federal government about to officially announce a hands off philosophy for marijuana in areas of America with legalized use?
Time will only tell what kind of difference can be made by these most recent attempts at changing the game of drug law. Regardless of how this whole thing pans out though, it is important for those struggling with drugs to understand that addiction is still a risk and marijuana is still a drug. Recovery isn’t about doing what is legal; it’s about doing what is right. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588