Last week the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, by a vote of 21 to 8, approved an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill that prevents the Drug Enforcement Administration from using resources to interfere with state laws on medical cannabis.
A similar amendment has passed the previous two years as well; the measure must be renewed every year as part of the appropriations process. The amendment will now be considered by the full Senate; if it passes it will move on to the House.
Keeping this restriction on the DEA is important as it will prevent them from raiding medical marijuana businesses that are legal under state law; if they don’t have the funding, there is nothing they can do. And until federal marijuana prohibition laws are changed, these are the kinds of stop-gap half measures that will be needed to keep the feds from interfering in what some states are trying to accomplish.
“We should respect the rights of the states who are going through this process,” Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the amendment’s sponsor, said before the vote. “The DEA has enough to do keeping illegal drugs out of our country at the border, rather than interfering where a state has determined through an open process that it wants to do these sales.”
Opponents of the measure argue that not enforcing federal law sends the wrong message, but I think it sends the right one. It says we are going to stop wasting money on battling what voters in certain states want. It says we have more important uses for taxpayer money than raiding businesses that some of those same taxpayers voted into existence.