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House Votes To Protect Medical Marijuana Users And Businesses

In a move that has surprised some Capitol Hill observers, the Republican-controlled House voted early Friday to block the Justice Department from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.

The amendment passed by a vote of 219 to 189. It was attached to fiscal 2015 funding measures for a wide spectrum of federal agencies, and now heads to the Senate.

The measure was proposed by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, who on his website called the vote a historic victory “for states’ rights, for the doctor-patient relationship, for compassion, for fiscal responsibility. This vote shows that House members really can listen to the American people, form coalitions, and get things done.”

Related: A Closer Look At Marijuana Stocks With Alan Brochstein

Twenty-two states plus the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Four other states have bills pending on the legalization of medical marijuana. And on January 1 of this year, Washington state and Colorado legalized the adult use of recreational cannabis.

"This train has already left the station," Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), told The Hill. "The problem is that the federal government's getting in the way."

Not all lawmakers are pleased, however. Associated Press says Rep. Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican, pointed to a recent Drug Enforcement Administration study that criticized medical marijuana proponents as seeing the issue as merely a “means to an end, which is the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes."

But Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, praised what he described as Congress' withdrawal from the war on medical marijuana patients and their providers.

“Federal tax dollars will no longer be wasted arresting seriously ill medical marijuana patients and those who provide to them,” he said in a press statement. "This is a historic vote, and it’s yet another sign that our federal government is shifting toward a more sensible marijuana policy."

Posted-In: Andy Harris cannabis Dan Riffle Dana RohrabacherNews Politics Events General Best of Benzinga

 

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