It comes as no surprise that the Trump administration and a majority of Republican politicians are working tirelessly to prevent the continued legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana. To learn more, read our previous post about how Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been fighting Congress on medical marijuana laws. Most recently, they’ve gone so far as to target the medical marijuana laws already established in 29 states and the District of Colombia.
Late Wednesday evening, while reviewing a spending bill that will be presented to Congress next month, the House Rules Committee blocked the House of Representatives from voting on nine separate amendments that were related to the marijuana industry. According to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California), this was because “GOP leaders viewed the amendments as potentially divisive." But isn’t that exactly why we vote on anything in this country? Is that not the entire basis of a democracy? I may not have a background in government, but it seems like these representatives are the ones who need a lesson in politics.
One of the most prominent among the aforementioned proposals was introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California), along with co-sponsors Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado). The policy has been dubbed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. This measure would prevent the Justice Department from using federal funding to interfere in states that have legally approved the use of medical marijuana, and would also protect patients and providers from being prosecuted.
Although Rep. Duncan Hunter claims this amendment would be schismatic, it was approved by the House in 2014 and again in 2015. Unfortunately, the legislation it's currently apart of is set to expire on Sept. 30, which is why it is important that the amendment continues to be authorized. Without these protections, the entire cannabis industry and the millions of Americans who rely on marijuana for medicinal purposes will be at risk so long as it remains a federal illegality.
All of this comes just days after Rohrabacher wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post calling on his fellow Republicans to help protect medical marijuana laws. In his piece, Rohrabacher points out that these actions completely go against what President Donald Trump has made clear in both his campaign and presidency, which is that he believes states should have the authority to implement their own medical marijuana policies. But it is Sessions, the leader of our Department of Justice, who has put a bullseye on the back of the cannabis industry even though his job is to uphold the laws that are already in place, not to change them so they reflect his own beliefs.
"I should not need to remind our chief law enforcement officer nor my fellow Republicans that our system of federalism, also known as states’ rights, was designed to resolve just such a fractious issue,” Rohrabacher (pictured above, on the left) wrote in his op-ed. “If we bury state autonomy in order to deny patients an alternative to opioids, and ominously federalize our police, our hypocrisy will deserve the American people’s contempt.”
After the House Rules Committee made its decision regarding the amendments, Rohrabacher and Blumenauer released a joint statement that expressed their condemnation of it. “Our fight to protect medical marijuana patients is far from over,” the representatives said in their statement. “This setback is not the final word. As House and Senate leadership negotiate a long-term funding bill, we will fight to maintain current protections.”
So, the good news is, that this particular amendment is still alive and has the potential to be included in another piece of legislation regarding the federal government’s annual funding. Although the House didn't include the amendment in their budget, the Sentate did, and it now falls on a conference committee to decide its fate.
But in my opinion, it’s hard to remain calm when the American government is trying to strip citizens of their medication and livelihood because they refuse to admit that the War on Drugs has been a complete failure. Remind me why these representatives are so determined to complete the mission of Richard Nixon, a crooked politician who was so cowardly that he jumped ship to dodge his impending impeachment? Is that really a legacy that we, as Americans, want to validate? I think not.