In a historic move, the U.S. government has acted to protect medical marijuana businesses and users. On Thursday night, the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill to end the federal raids of state-legal dispensaries. The vote won with 219 yays against 49 nays, reflecting America’s increasing acceptance of marijuana for medical uses.
The conflicting state and federal laws on marijuana sales have led to frequent DEA raids on medical marijuana dispensaries. These raids often result in the seizure of plants and products. Yesterday, the federal government took the first step toward the discontinuation of these raids, The Daily Beast reported. “Marijuana does not make people commit crime. It makes them overeat,” said Tennessee Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen, explaining his supporting vote, Buzzfeed reported.
The amendment was led by California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and California Democrat Sam Farr. “Some people are suffering, if a doctor feels he needs to prescribe, it is immoral for this govt to get in the way," said Rohrabacher, as reported by The Daily Beast. Similar measures have been voted down by Congress six times. This bill’s passage will be the first time Congress has approved medical marijuana law reform and suggests that the country may be headed toward universal acceptance of the drug. This is a huge development,” Mason Tvert, director of communications, Marijuana Policy Project, told The Daily Beast. “This is a major sign that things are moving full-speed in the right direction at the federal level, as well as the state level.”
The main reasoning behind the voting to pass the bill was an effort to curb the government spending that occasionally funded these raids. Throughout the country, individuals are celebrating this sign of a significant shift toward marijuana policy. Congress is officially pulling out of the war on medical marijuana patients and providers. “Federal tax dollars will no longer be wasted arresting seriously ill medical marijuana patients and those who provide to them,” Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Project said, MSNBC reported.
Not everyone is as happy about the bill’s passage. “This is an extremely dangerous drug for our children and for future generations,” said Rep. John Flemming, whose vote made up one of the 49 nays. “Marijuana is not safe or legal. There is more evidence every day that it is not safe,” Rep. Andy Harris added. The common reasoning for these raids was public protect. “Of particular concern to the U.S. Attorney’s Office are cases involving marijuana trafficking directly or indirectly to children and young people; trafficking that involves violence or other federal criminal activity; trafficking conducted or financed by street gangs and drug cartels; cultivation of marijuana on Colorado’s extensive state and federal public lands; and trafficking across state and international lines,” U.S. Attorney for Colorado John Walsh explained a statement last year.
Although the House of Representative has voted to pass the bill, it still needs approval from the Senate and an official sign of from President Obama before becoming a law.