House rejects amendment defunding MMJ prosecutions

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Dealin Doug Lamborn.

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives considered an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations budget bill that, through a lack of funding, would basically end the ability of federal law-enforcement agencies to use the Controlled Substances Act against folks who are acting in compliance with state law. It was introduced by representatives from California and New York.

“Both Democrats and Republicans are telling the Obama administration: enough is enough, stop wasting taxpayer money to undermine state medical marijuana laws,” says Bill Piper, director of national affairs of the Drug Policy Alliance, in a prepared statement. “President Obama needs to realize his assault on patient access is not just immoral – but a serious political miscalculation. For more than a decade, polling has consistently shown that 70 to 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana.”

The amendment was rejected handily, 163 to 262, but some advocates don't see that as anything but a victory. With 28 Republicans and 134 Democrats — 72 percent of the party — supporting the repudiation of Obama's actions against medical marijuana, Marijuana Policy Project communications manager Morgan Fox calls the vote a win for his side.

"It is important to note overall that support is rising among both Democrats and Republicans," he writes in response to an e-mail from the Indy. "Even though this got roughly the same number of Yes and No votes as it did in 2007, there are far more Republicans in office now, so this vote can definitely be looked at as an improvement in that respect. Republican members of Congress are still largely opposed to medical marijuana, despite it quickly becoming a prominent states' rights issue."

Votes among the Colorado delegation broke down about how you would expect: Reps. Jared Polis, Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter were in support of defunding MMJ prosecutions; and Reps. Scott Tipton, Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman and — gasp! — Doug Lamborn voted against.

"It was strange to see so many Republicans pass up a chance to publicly rebuke widely unpopular administration actions," writes Fox, "particularly when this amendment would not have directly affected many of their states in the near future."

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