Last month the House voted to prevent the Department of Justice from using funds to interfere with state medical marijuana programs and now the Senate will likely get its turn. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) will offer a similar amendment to the appropriations bill in the Senate, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.
The amendment will prohibit the Department of Justice from using any funds “prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
Since marijuana is still Schedule I under federal laws the federal government doesn’t technically recognize the medical use of marijuana. As a result, medical marijuana business have been raid by the DEA in places where they are legal under state law.
In the House the amendment was approved in a bipartisan vote of 219-189, but its prospects in the Senate remain uncertain. In recent statements, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have indicated he supports the basic idea of medical marijuana.
What is clear is that the American people want Congress to adopt the amendment. Polls show an overwhelmingly majorities support medical marijuana and think marijuana policy should be left up to the states.
Now we just wait to see if the Senate will listen to their constituents. The vote is expect in the very near future.
Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy
Photo by Mike Licht under Creative Commons license