An unlikely marijuana hero has stepped forward this week. Republican lawmaker Rep. Dana Rohrabacher introduced a bill called the Respect State Marijuana Rights Act which would stop the federal government from interfering with state marijuana laws. This is the 3rd time Rohrabacher is introducing a bill of the same nature. Now he does it as part of a new marijuana advocacy group, Cannabis Caucus in Congress, which is made up of several representatives who are all working towards marijuana policy reform. This may be the added support Rohrabacher needs to enforce protection for state marijuana laws.
Preaching What He Practices
“I happen to believe that the Federal Government shouldn’t be locking up anyone for making a decision of what he or she should privately consume, whether that person is rich or poor, and we should never be giving people the excuse, especially Federal authorities, that they have a right to stop people or intrude into their lives in order to prevent them and prevent others from smoking a weed, consuming something they personally want to consume,” says Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher has been so open about his support of marijuana that he recently told a group of marijuana supporters that he used a topical marijuana extract to treat his arthritis and had the first good night sleep in a year, as his arthritis pain went away.
The “Failed Policy” of Marijuana Prohibition
The sentiment coming from Rohrabacher, a loud Trump supporter who was even being considered for secretary of state, holds some weight to it with other republicans. He has been vocal and consistent about his advocacy of marijuana for many years. He stated that marijuana prohibition has been a “failed policy” that has cost the government billions of dollars in order to stop grown adults from consuming a plant. Marijuana has been proven by several studies around the world to be less harmful than cigarettes and alcohol but it remains a Schedule I drug. This means that not only is it federally illegal and deemed as having no medicinal value but it is also considered to be as dangerous as heroin.
Protecting State Marijuana Laws
Currently, 28 states and D.C. have legalized medical marijuana, well over half of the country. 8 states and D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, approximately a fifth of the country. This is a large percentage of the country who are counting on the protection of the state marijuana laws for health, work and recreation. Jeff Sessions, an outspoken prohibitionist who once stated that good people don’t use marijuana was just appointed Attorney General. In one sweeping movement he has the ability to undo years of marijuana reform. Rohrabacher’s bill would protect this from happening. Trump stated during his campaign that he had no intention of affecting marijuana law and that states should be left to create their own laws.
If Trump’s intention regarding state marijuana laws is honest and his administration supports his ideas and policies, Rohrabacher’s bill has a good chance of passing this year since it is in total compliance with Trump’s policy ideas. For now, marijuana advocates must wait and see if insurance and protection from the whims of Sessions will occur.