A series of medical marijuana proposals was blocked by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. For several years now, states have held the right to create their own laws when it comes to marijuana. 29 states voted to legalize marijuana for medical use, allowing it to help children with epilepsy, cancer patients and others suffering from debilitating conditions. In this time, marijuana has been a kind of miracle cure for millions across the country, helping patients with chronic pain and brain trauma to function normally again without side effects or the use of dangerous and highly addictive opioids.
The Necessity for Laws Protecting Medical Cannabis
8 states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21. Cannabis has also been found to be safer and healthier than alcohol and cigarettes and states have found legalizing and regulating the plant like alcohol and cigarettes has been a powerful way to deal with the black market that would still exist without its legalization. These states have been able to profit from its sale and revenue has gone to support schools and other community needs. It is for this reason that several lawmakers have worked to create bills that would reschedule or deschedule the plant from its current status as a Schedule I drug. This is the highest risk drug category for drugs like heroin and LSD that serve no medicinal benefit and can’t even be tested on humans. Alternatively there are bills that would protect state’s rights to create their own laws.
Undermining the Rights of the People
One such bill is sponsored by GOP California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R). On Wednesday morning at a closed meeting of House Republicans, he passionately requested the House leaders allow there to be a vote on his amendment, protecting state rights. Unfortunately, GOP leaders have blocked all movement forward on the bill. “The status quo for 4 years has been the federal government will not interfere because the Department of Justice is not permitted to use its resources to supersede a state that has legalized the medical use of marijuana,” Rohrabacher said. He further elaborated that now, without his amendment, “we’re changing the status quo in a way that undermines the rights of the states and the people … to make their policy.”
Blocking Protections for States Rights
Rohrabacher was not the only lawmaker blocked from forward movement on a marijuana related bill. The GOP leaders blocked multiple amendments that would protect current and future state marijuana laws. The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in particular prevents the Department of Justice from spending federal money on pursuing the medical marijuana industry in states where it has been legalized. This is essentially targeting children with epilepsy, cancer patients, veterans with PTSD, athletes with brain trauma and the elderly suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other degenerative conditions for which medical marijuana is prescribed. On top of this, according to the most recent polls, approximately 84 percent of the country is in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, 60 percent is in favor of legalizing it for recreational use and 2/3 of the country believe states should be able to create their own marijuana laws.
Much of the action from the GOP leaders is being spurred on by long time prohibitionist and current attorney general Jeff Sessions. The amendment still has the potential of making its way into the legislation that lays out how federal funds will be used. In an official statement that amendment sponsors Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, released on Wednesday night, they said the fight is far from over. With so many invested in the legal medical marijuana industry, they are sure to have support in the battles ahead.