As early as tomorrow the Congress could be voting on a bipartisan amendment that stop federal law enforcement from wasting resources on going after state approved medical marijuana programs.
The measure is being put forward by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) as an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bills. It would merely prohibit federal law enforcement from going after medical marijuana activity that is legal under state law.
While there is no recent polling on this specific amendment we can confidently conclude this is something the electorate supports.
In general the country overwhelmingly supports medical marijuana and wants Congress to embrace it. All major pollsters found a super majority of Americans across all age groups and partisan affiliations support medical marijuana. CBS New poll found 86 percent support allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana and according to Pew Research 77 percent of Americans think marijuana has legitimate medical use.
It is theoretically possible that the American public could support medical marijuana and also consider federal constancy on marijuana law enforcement even more important, but that is not what the polling says. A 2012 Mason-Dixon poll found 74 percent want the Obama administration to respect local medical marijuana laws while only 15 percent want to see federal prosecutions.
In fact Americans overwhelmingly want to go even further than this Rohrabacher amendment. They don’t want the federal resources wasted on enforcement of anti-marijuana laws against state approved medical marijuana or state approved recreational marijuana. 70 percent oppose the federal government arresting recreational marijuana sellers and users in Colorado according to a CNN poll.
The public doesn’t want the federal law enforcement agencies wasting taxpayer money arresting medical marijuana providers. Marijuana is an issue they want left up to the states. Now we wait to see if our representatives will finally listen to their constituents on this issue. When the amendment was last brought to the floor in 2012 it failed 163-262.
Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy
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