Though it is still too early to tell, the days of DEA raids on medical marijuana facilities may be coming to a close. Approximately two dozen states have legalized doctor-prescribed marijuana, allowing physicians to prescribe the drug for any number of a wide variety of ailments.
But, marijuana continues to be illegal under federal law, and scheduled as a substance that has no medical value. For years, Congress has largely ignored the will of the states that have decided to allow doctors to make the call. Now, in a surprise vote, the House of Representatives has voted to block the DEA from raiding medical marijuana facilities in states where the drug has been permitted.
The House of Representatives recently voted 219 to 189 to end DEA funding for operations against medical marijuana facilities in states where the drug has been legalized for medical purposes.
The bipartisan support for the amendment, which was tacked onto an appropriations bill, surprised many analysts by attracting significant Republican support. However, the amendment does comport with the Republican supported principle of allowing states to decide such vital law enforcement issues for themselves.
The appropriations bill will now head to the Senate for consideration. It is not certain that the Senate will allow the amendment to stand as is, and the upper house may decide to change the wording of the amendment or scrap it altogether. But, regardless of the eventual outcome, this vote appears to signal a shift in authorities’ attitudes toward marijuana.
The DEA still has leadership that continues to equate the dangers posed by marijuana with those posed by cocaine and heroin. Whether or not such comparisons are factually correct, they are out of touch with the attitudes shared by the majority of Americans.
The passage of this amendment signals that lawmakers, too, believe that it may be time to reduce the nation’s opposition to the plant.